Residents are expected to flee the port of Mariupol during a local ceasefire from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Ukrainian military officials said earlier in the day. Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerastshenko said the planned evacuations had stopped due to an ongoing attack by Russian troops.
“There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start firing and to whom,” Gerastshenko told the Telegram.
The news shattered hopes for progress in relaxation, all the more so for the end of the war in Ukraine, which is now in its 11th day and has caused 1.5 million people to flee the country. The head of the UN refugee agency on Sunday described the exit as “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
The presidents of Turkey and France, as well as Pope Francis, have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate an end to the conflict.
MAP: Locations of known Russian military attacks and ground attacks
Separately, Ukraine’s national security service reports that Russian forces fired rockets at a physics institute in the city of Kharkov containing nuclear material and a reactor. Russian troops have already taken control of the Zaporizhia plant in Ukraine, as well as Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in the world.
The security service said a blow to the Kharkiv nuclear facility could lead to a “large-scale ecological disaster”. The service reported on Facebook on Sunday that the Russians were shooting at Grad launchers. These missiles are not precisely targeted, raising concerns that someone would be misled.
Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyy has reiterated a call for foreign patrons to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which NATO has so far ruled out over concerns that such an move would drag the West into war.
“The world is strong enough to close our skies,” Zelensky said in a video clip Sunday.
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Putin warned on Saturday that Moscow would consider hostile action a statement by third parties on the closure of Ukrainian airspace.
Disappointment for women, children and the elderly waiting to leave Mariupol and the nearby town of Volnovakha, while able-bodied Ukrainian men were left behind to fight, came after a similar ceasefire agreement on Saturday and foreign leaders collapsed. tried to impose diplomacy to end the war.
Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could stop “only if Kyiv stops hostilities and meets Russia’s known demands,” the Kremlin said in a telephone interview with the two leaders on Sunday. .
Putin had earlier listed Ukraine’s “demilitarization” and “demilitarization”, the recognition of Crimea as part of Russia and the separatist territories in eastern Ukraine as independent states as key demands of the Kremlin.
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“It was hoped that during the scheduled next round of negotiations, the representatives of Ukraine will show a more constructive approach, taking full account of emerging realities.” The third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators is scheduled for Monday.
In a highly unusual move, Pope Francis said Sunday that he had sent two cardinals to Ukraine, saying the Vatican was willing to do everything it could to bring peace to an end to a conflict that began on February 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine,” the pope said in his traditional Sunday blessing. “It is not just a military operation, but a war that sows death, destruction and misery.”
As Russian forces surrounded several Ukrainian cities and held out an escort outside the capital, Kyiv, Zelensky appeared on television Saturday night wearing an ordinary military green T-shirt and urged his people to remain provocative.
“The Ukrainians in all our cities where the enemy has entered – go on the attack!” said Zelensky. “You have to take to the streets! You have to fight! … It is necessary to go out and drive this evil out of our cities, from our land.”
After the failure of the ceasefire in Mariupol on Saturday, Russian forces intensified the bombing of the city and dropped mass bombs on residential areas of Chernihiv, a city north of Kiev, Ukrainian officials said.
In Mariupol, unfortunate mothers mourned the children killed, wounded soldiers were put on tourniquets, and doctors worked in the light of their cell phones as darkness and despair pervaded.
“The city is in a very, very difficult state of siege,” Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boichenko told Ukrainian television. “The relentless bombardment of residential areas continues, planes are dropping bombs on residential areas. Russian residents are using heavy artillery, including multiple Grad rocket launchers.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to deny responsibility for the war to the Ukrainian leadership, blaming their resistance on Russian forces.
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“If they continue to do what they are doing, they are calling into question the future of the Ukrainian state,” Putin said on Saturday. “And if that happens, it will be solely in their consciousness.”
It has also hit Western sanctions that have crippled Russia’s economy and pushed its currency down. Meanwhile, several companies are suspending operations in Russia, including Mastercard and Visa.
“These sanctions are similar to a declaration of war,” he told Russian airline Aeroflot, which suspended all international flights except Belarus on Saturday. “But thank God we haven’t got there yet.”
The World Health Organization on Sunday condemned the attacks on health workers in Ukraine, saying it had verified at least six such attacks that had killed six people and injured 11 others.
The attacks on health workers are a violation of international humanitarian law, WHO Director-General of the Tantros Antanom Gebregesus said on Twitter.
British military officials on Sunday compared Russia’s tactics in Ukraine with those used in Chechnya and Syria, where besieged cities have been hit by airstrikes and artillery fire after Russian forces met with unexpected resistance.
The Ukrainian resistance continues to surprise Russian forces and has responded by targeting residential areas, including the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, the UK Department of Defense said in a daily briefing.
“This is likely to represent an attempt to break Ukraine’s morale,” the ministry said. “Russia has used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and in Syria in 2016, using both air and ground ammunition.”
The death toll from the conflict is difficult to count. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says at least 351 civilians have been confirmed dead, but the number is likely to be much higher. Russian and Ukrainian defense officials have not provided information on their military casualties.
The Ukrainian army is far superior to the Russian army, but its professional and volunteer forces have retaliated with fierce persistence. In Kyiv, volunteers lined up on Saturday to join the army.
Even in fallen cities, there were signs of resistance demanded by Zelensky.
Viewers in Chernihiv cheered as they watched a Russian military plane fall from the sky and crash, according to a video released by the Ukrainian government. In Kherson, hundreds of protesters waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and shouted, “Go home.”
But the fight for temporary ceasefires in Mariupol and Volnovac on Saturday showed the fragility of efforts to stop fighting across Ukraine.
Russia has made significant progress in southern Ukraine as it seeks to block access to the Avrov Sea. The occupation of Mariupol could allow Moscow to create a land corridor to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, in a move that most other countries considered illegal.
Meanwhile, the head of the Chernihiv region said that Russia has dropped powerful bombs on residential areas of the city of the same name, which has a population of 290,000. Vyacheslav Chaus posted a photo on the Internet of what he said was a non-explosive FAB-500 bomb, a 1,100-pound (500-pound) bomb.
“Usually this weapon is used against military-industrial installations and fortifications,” Chaus said.
The West has widely supported Ukraine, offering aid and arms shipments, and slapping Russia with huge sanctions. However, no NATO army has been sent to Ukraine, leaving the Ukrainians to fight Russian troops.
“Ukraine is bleeding, but Ukraine has not fallen,” Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said in a video released on Saturday.
US President Joe Biden called Zelensky early Sunday in Kiev to discuss Russian sanctions and the acceleration of US aid to Ukraine. The White House said the talks also covered talks between Russia and Ukraine, but gave no details.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spent the weekend visiting NATO member states in Eastern Europe that have received refugees from Ukraine. In Moldova on Sunday, he pledged support for the former Western Soviet republic, which is watching Russia’s moves in Ukraine.
The UN has said it will increase its humanitarian operations both inside and outside Ukraine, and the Security Council has scheduled a meeting for Monday to discuss the deteriorating situation.
The UN World Food Program has warned of an impending famine crisis in Ukraine, a major global wheat supplier, saying millions would need food aid “immediately”.
Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.
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