New humanitarian corridor set up in Donbass
The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that a safe passage from the surrounded Azov Sea port city of Mariupol and the nearby Volnovakha was opened on Sunday morning.
The DPR, which broke off from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev, claims Mariupol as its territory. However, for the last eight years, the city has been controlled by Ukraine. It is now surrounded by DPR fighters backed by Russian troops.
The temporary ceasefire will only cover the stated areas and will not be applied elsewhere, DPR military spokesman Eduard Basurin warned. Basurin later claimed that the Ukrainian side refused to “guarantee” the observation of a ceasefire in Mariupol and Volnovakha.
Mariupol officials confirmed that the evacuation of civilians was scheduled to start at noon. The ceasefire will last from 10am to 9pm local time, they said.
The statement came after a failed attempt to organize a similar evacuation from the besieged cities on Saturday. At the time, Russia and Ukraine agreed on a local ceasefire and several safe routes. However, Mariupol officials later called off the plan after accusing Russia of shelling of the city.
The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, claimed that Ukrainian “nationalists” were preventing civilians from leaving. RT was unable to independently verify the situation on the ground.
Russia invaded its neighbor last week, arguing that it was defending the DPR and the neighboring Lugansk People’s Republic, another entity that seceded from Ukraine in 2014. Moscow said it sought “demilitarization and denazification” of the country, without elaborating, but made it clear that it wants Ukraine to officially become a neutral country, renouncing its bid to join NATO. Kiev said the attack was entirely unprovoked and appealed to the international community for help.
Russians and Ukrainians held two rounds of peace talks in Belarus, without tangible results. A third meeting is planned for Monday, according to Davyd Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian negotiation team.