Sunday, December 10, 2023
29 C
Brunei Town

Russia sets cease-fire for evacuations

LVIV, UKRAINE (AP) – Russia announced yet another cease-fire and a handful of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee Ukraine starting yesterday, although the evacuation routes were mostly leading to Russia and its ally Belarus, drawing withering criticism from Ukraine and others.

It was not immediately clear if any evacuations were taking place. Russian forces continued to pummel some Ukrainian cities with rockets even after the new announcement of corridors and fierce fighting continued in some areas, indicating there would be no wider cessation of hostilities.

Efforts to set up safe passages for civilians to leave besieged areas over the weekend fell apart. But the Russian Defence Ministry announced a new push yesterday, saying civilians would be allowed to leave the capital of Kyiv, the southern port city of Mariupol, and the cities of Kharkiv and Sumy.

The two sides also planned to meet for talks again, even though hopes were dim that they would yield any breakthroughs. Well into the second week of war, Russia’s plan to quickly overrun the country has been stymied by fierce resistance. Its troops have made significant advances in southern Ukraine and along the coast, but many of its efforts have become stalled, including an immense military convoy that has been almost motionless for days north of Kyiv.

People, who have fled from Ukraine, wait to board a train travelling to Budapest at a train station in Zahony, Hungary. PHOTO: AP

The fighting has sent energy prices surging worldwide, stocks plummeting, and is threatening the food supply and livelihoods of people around the globe who rely on farmland in the Black Sea region.

The death toll, meanwhile, remains unclear. The United Nations (UN) has confirmed a few hundred civilian deaths but also warned the number is a vast undercount. Police for the Kharkiv region said yesterday that 209 people have died there alone, 133 of them civilians.

The Russian invasion has also sent 1.7 million people fleeing Ukraine, creating what the head of the UN refugee agency called “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II”. Many others are trapped in cities under fire. Food, water, medicine and almost all other supplies were in desperately short supply in Mariupol, which an estimated 200,000 people were trying to flee. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the failure of a cease-fire there over the weekend.

In the latest cease-fire proposal, most of the evacuation routes were toward Russia or its ally Belarus, a move Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk called “unacceptable”. Belarus served as a launching ground for the invasion.

“Providing evacuation routes into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense,” said United Kingdom Europe Minister James Cleverly.

The Ukrainian government instead proposed eight routes that would allow civilians to travel to western regions of Ukraine where there is no Russian shelling.

The Russian task force said the new pledge for humanitarian corridors was announced at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.


Latest article