Russia Agreed to Ceasefire. Ukraine Officials Say It's Breached That

Zelensky's office says evacuations halted after Mariupol continues to remain under fire
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 5, 2022 5:30 AM CST
Russia Agreed to Ceasefire. Ukraine Officials Say It's Breached That
A woman holds her daughter as she sits inside the Lviv railway station waiting for a train to flee Ukraine on Friday.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The Ukrainian president's office says civilian evacuations have halted in an area of the country where Russian defense officials had announced a ceasefire. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, said the evacuation effort was stopped because the city of Mariupol remained under fire on Saturday, reports the AP. "The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area," he said. "Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing regarding setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor." The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier in a statement it had agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces for Mariupol, a strategic port in the southeast, and for the eastern city of Volnovakha.

But a city official reported that shelling continued in his area Saturday despite the deal, a sign of the fragility of efforts to stop fighting across the country. Mariupol had become the scene of growing misery amid days of shelling that knocked out power and most phone service and raised the prospect of food and water shortages for hundreds of thousands of people in freezing weather. Pharmacies are out of medicine, Doctors Without Borders said. Pavlo Kirilenko, head of the Donetsk military-civil administration that includes Mariupol, said the humanitarian corridor would extend from the city to Zaporizhzhia, about 140 miles away. But Mariupol deputy mayor Serhiy Orlov later told the BBC that the Russians "continue to use hard artillery and rockets to bomb Mariupol."

The head of Ukraine's security council, Oleksiy Danilov, had urged Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women, and older adults to flee the fighting, calling them "question No. 1." Ukraine's president was set to brief US senators Saturday by video conference as Congress considers a request for $10 billion in emergency funding for humanitarian aid and security needs. At least 331 civilians have been confirmed killed since the fighting began, but the true number is probably much higher, the UN human rights office said. Kyiv's central train station remained crowded with people desperate to join the more than 1.4 million who've fled Ukraine. "People just want to live," one woman said.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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