THIS IS AN UPDATE OF NEWS. The previous history of the AP is given below.
What looked like a breakthrough ceasefire to evacuate residents of two Ukrainian cities quickly failed on Saturday when Ukrainian officials said work to remove civilians had stopped amid shelling hours after Russia announced the deal.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has previously said it has coordinated evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, a strategic port in the southeast, and the city of Volnovakha in the east. The vague statement did not specify how long the routes will remain open.
“The Russian side does not adhere to the ceasefire and continues to shell Mariupol and its environs,” said Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Vladimir Zelensky Kirill Tymoshenko. “Negotiations are underway with the Russian Federation on a ceasefire and a secure humanitarian corridor.”
Russia has violated the agreement in Volnovakha as well, Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verashchuk told journalists. “We appeal to the Russian side to stop firing,” she said. Meanwhile, the Russian edition of RIA Novosti reported the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense that the shooting was from within both communities on Russian positions.
The struggle for a ceasefire has shown volatility in ceasefire efforts across Ukraine as thousands continue to flee the country.
“We are doing our best to make the agreement work,” Zelensky said. “This is one of the main tasks for today. Let’s see if we can go further in the negotiation process.”
Mariupol has become an arena of growing misery amid days of shelling that have cut off electricity and most telephone services and increased the prospect of food and water shortages for hundreds of thousands of people in the cold. Medicines have run out in pharmacies, Doctors Without Borders reports.
A senior official in Mariupol said the evacuation should begin at 11 a.m. (9 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time) and the ceasefire would last until 4 p.m. (14 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time). Pavlo Kirilenko, head of the Donetsk military-civil administration, which includes the city, said the humanitarian corridor would continue to Zaporozhye, which is 226 kilometers (140 miles) away.
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The head of the Security Council of Ukraine Alexei Danilov called on Russia to create humanitarian corridors so that children, women and the elderly could flee the fighting, calling them “issue №1.”
Diplomatic efforts continued when US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Poland to meet with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, a day after attending a NATO meeting in Brussels, where the alliance pledged to strengthen support for the eastern flank. Blinken visited the border post to meet with the refugees later that day.
While Russian forces are smashing strategic locations elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day will also die because of you.”
NATO has said the no-fly zone could provoke a major war in Europe with nuclear Russia. But as the United States and other NATO members send weapons to Kyiv and more than 1 million refugees wake up across the continent, the conflict is already involving countries far beyond Ukraine.
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Russia continues to put pressure on independent media outlets reporting on the war, also blocking Facebook and Twitter, and other publications say they are suspending their work inside the country.
And in warning of the impending famine crisis, the UN World Food Program says that millions of people in Ukraine, the world’s largest wheat supplier, will need food aid “immediately”.
The President of Ukraine was to inform US senators on Saturday by video conference when Congress is considering a request for emergency funding of $ 10 billion for humanitarian aid and security needs.
In a bitter and emotional speech Friday night, Zelensky criticized NATO for the lack of a no-fly zone, warning that “Europe’s history will remember this forever.”
The no-fly zone prohibits all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ruled out such a possibility. “The only way to introduce a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighters into Ukrainian airspace and then introduce that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” he said.
In a separate video message to anti-war protesters in several European cities, Zelensky asked for help. “If we fall, so will you,” he said.
The UN Security Council has scheduled an open meeting on Monday to worsen the humanitarian situation. The United Nations estimates that 12 million Ukrainians and 4 million fleeing to neighboring countries will need humanitarian assistance in the coming months.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia on Friday has sparked global alarm, but Russian forces have not made significant progress in their offensive to sever Ukraine’s access to the Black and Azov Seas, which will deal a severe blow to the country’s economy.
A huge Russian armored column threatening Ukraine’s capital remained deadlocked near Kiev, but the Russian military inflicted hundreds of missiles and artillery strikes on cities and other facilities across the country.
When houses in the northern city of Chernihiv were on fire from what locals called Russian shelling, one resident accused Europe of just watching. “We wanted to join NATO and the EU, and that’s the price we pay, and NATO can’t protect us,” she said.
At least 331 civilians have been killed since the fighting began, but the figure is likely to be much higher, the UN Human Rights Office said.
Kyiv’s central train station is still crowded with people desperate to join the more than 1.4 million people who have fled Ukraine. “People just want to live,” said one woman, Xenia.
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