Russia-Ukraine news live: Evacuations from 2 Ukrainian cities postponed as officials say Russia not observing ceasefire

KIEV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian president’s office says evacuations from an area where Russia has declared a ceasefire have stopped.

This is an emergency update. Previous story below:

Russian defense officials have announced a temporary ceasefire in two Ukrainian cities to allow the evacuation of civilians, but a local official said bombings continued in the area on Saturday despite the agreement, signaling a stalemate in all efforts. the country.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had agreed to evacuate routes with Ukrainian forces to the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern city of Volnovakha, which would be the first major breakthrough to allow people to escape the war. The vague statement did not specify how long the services will remain open.

Mariupol had become the scene of growing misery amid days of bombings that knocked out most telephone services and caused food and water shortages for hundreds of thousands of people in icy weather. Pharmacies are out of medicine, Médecins Sans Frontières said.

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A senior official there said the ceasefire would last until 4 p.m. (2 pm GMT) and evacuation began at 11 a.m. (9 a.m. GMT). said the humanitarian corridor would run from the city to Zaporizhia, about 226 kilometers (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. That is why people are very scared, but they are going to three specific places from which we will go anyway.” to evacuate them with municipal buses “.

The head of Ukraine’s Security Council, Oleksiy Danilov, had urged Russia to set up humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the elderly to leave the fighting, calling them “Question No. 1”.

Diplomatic efforts continued as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Poland to meet with the Prime Minister and Secretary of State, a day after attending a NATO meeting in Brussels in which the alliance pledged to increase support for members. of the east side. Blinken would visit a border outpost to meet refugees later in the day.

MAP: Locations of known Russian military attacks and ground attacks

As Russian forces strike strategic locations elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has attacked NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over its country, warning that “all people who die from now on will die and die because of you.” ».

NATO has said a no-fly zone could spark a widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia. But as the United States and other NATO members send weapons to Kyiv and more than 1 million refugees are scattered across the continent, the conflict has already reached countries far beyond Ukraine.

Russia continues to crack down on independent media reporting on the war, also blocking Facebook and Twitter, and more media reports say they are shutting down inside the country.

And in a warning of a famine that has not yet come, the UN World Food Program says millions of people inside Ukraine, a major global supplier of wheat, will need food aid “immediately”.

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Ukraine’s president was due to brief US senators by telephone on Saturday as Congress considered a request for $ 10 billion in emergency funding for humanitarian and security assistance.

In a bitter and emotional speech late Friday, Zelensky criticized NATO for lacking a no-fly zone, warning that “Europe’s history will remember it forever.”

A no-fly zone would prevent all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had ruled out the possibility. “The only way to enforce a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter jets into Ukrainian airspace and then enforce that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” he said.

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In a separate video message to anti-war protesters in several European cities, Zelensky called for help. “If we fall, you will fall,” he said.

The UN Security Council has scheduled an open meeting for Monday on the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The United Nations estimates that 12 million people in Ukraine and 4 million in neighboring countries in the coming months will need humanitarian assistance.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhia on Friday prompted a global alert, but Russian forces made little progress in their offensive to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and Azov Sea. brought a serious blow to the country’s economy.

A huge Russian armored column threatening the Ukrainian capital remained stationary outside Kyiv, but the Russian military has launched hundreds of rockets and artillery attacks on cities and other locations across the country.

As homes in the northern city of Chernihiv were burned by what locals described as a Russian bombing, a resident accused Europe of just looking. “We wanted to join NATO and the EU and that is the price we are paying and NATO can not protect us,” he said.

At least 331 civilians have been confirmed dead since the fighting began, but the actual number is likely to be much higher, the UN human rights office said.

Kiev’s main railway station remained crowded with people desperate to join the more than 1.4 million who have fled Ukraine. “People just want to live,” said one woman, Ksenia.

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Russia-Ukraine news live: Evacuations from 2 Ukrainian cities postponed as officials say Russia not observing ceasefire Source link Russia-Ukraine news live: Evacuations from 2 Ukrainian cities postponed as officials say Russia not observing ceasefire

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