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Humanitarian Corridors | Zelensky accuses Russian forces of having failed the evacuation of civilians

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(Kyiv) Russia announced on Monday evening the establishment of local ceasefires in several Ukrainian cities from 7 a.m. GMT on Tuesday to allow the evacuation of civilians via humanitarian corridors, after further negotiations with the Ukrainians .

“The Russian Federation announces a ceasefire from 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT) on March 8” for the evacuation of civilians from Kyiv, as well as the cities of Sumy, Kharkiv, Cherniguiv and Mariupol, said in a press release the cell of the Russian Ministry of Defense, in charge of humanitarian operations in Ukraine.

According to Moscow, the new evacuation routes will be communicated to the Ukrainian authorities, who must give their agreement before 00:00 GMT on the night of Monday to Tuesday.

On Monday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russian army of having repeatedly failed to evacuate civilians through humanitarian corridors.

The Russian army continued its offensive and its bombardments on Monday, causing in particular, according to Ukrainian relief, thirteen deaths in a strike on an industrial bakery, in Makariv, a locality located on one of the main axes leading from the west of Ukraine to Kyiv.

On the twelfth day of the invasion launched by Vladimir Putin, the Russian army continued its advance towards the capital, which expects an attack “in the days to come”, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior.

“Every house, every street, every checkpoint will resist until death if necessary,” promised the mayor of Kyiv, former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.

For his part, President Putin announced that he would not send conscripts or reservists to fight in Ukraine, assuring that the offensive was carried out there by “professionals” fulfilling “set objectives”.

UN appeal

The humanitarian situation is also worsening day by day, with several towns under siege where food is running out.

The UN “needs safe corridors to provide humanitarian aid in areas of hostilities” in Ukraine, in this context hammered Monday at the UN Security Council the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Foreign Affairs humanitarians, Martin Griffiths.

Following Monday’s talks with the Russian side, the Ukrainians spoke of “some positive results” on the humanitarian corridors. “We will provide more effective help to people who suffer from the aggression of the Russian Federation,” said Mykhailo Podoliak, a member of the Ukrainian delegation.


PHOTO MAXIM GUCHEK, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A third round of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations ended Monday evening in Belarus.

On key issues, such as those relating to a ceasefire, “intensive dialogues will continue”, he added.

Moscow announced on Monday morning the establishment of local ceasefires and the opening of corridors to allow the departure of civilians from several cities in Ukraine – including Kyiv and Kharkiv, the second largest city in the north – is – under heavy fire for several days.

But Ukraine refused to evacuate civilians to Russia – four of the six corridors proposed by the Russians went to that country or its neighbor and ally Belarus.

In an exchange with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, Vladimir Putin accused the “Ukrainian nationalist battalions of hindering (the evacuations) by resorting to violence and various provocations”.

French President Emmanuel Macron for his part denounced “the moral and political cynicism” expressed in this Russian proposal to offer humanitarian corridors to Ukrainians to “bring them to Russia”.


PHOTO SERGE SUPINSKY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A man stacks sandbags to protect the entrance to a Kyiv metro station.

” Short of money ”

In Irpin, the last city-lock before Kyiv arriving from the west, 10,000 people have marched in recent days on an improbable plank of wood, half sunk in water, to escape the bombardments.

The concrete bridge, gaping over the river, was destroyed by Ukrainian forces to prevent the passage of Russian armor.

Children, the elderly – some carried on carpets serving as stretchers – and families abandon pushchairs, too heavy suitcases to rush into buses and vans.


PHOTO DIMITAR DILKOFF, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A soldier helps a woman cross a bridge in Irpin.

“I’m so happy I made it through, it’s going to be fine now,” says Olga, 48, who took this route with her two dogs.

Odessa, on the shores of the Black Sea, is also increasingly threatened. Distraught families have entrusted sick old parents, too weak to flee the port city, to the Archangelo Mikhailovsky monastery, with golden and gray domes, AFP noted.

“But we won’t be able to take everyone, alas! It is becoming too difficult to manage and we are running out of money,” says the head of the monastery, Mother Serafim.

New fighting also took place near Sumy, in the northeast, “there are deaths”, said the head of the military administration of the region, Dmitry Jivitsky.

Ukrainians also continue to take the road to exile en masse. The war has already pushed more than 1.7 million people to seek refuge in neighboring countries, according to the UN.


PHOTO ANDREEA ALEXANDRU, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A firefighter holds the baby of a refugee who arrived at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania.

Europe can expect to receive five million exiles if the bombing of cities continues, estimated the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, described as a “special military operation” by Moscow, at least 406 civilians have been killed and 801 injured, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The UNHCR stresses, however, that its assessments are probably much lower than the reality.

“Catastrophic consequences”

Diplomacy is also trying to regain its rights, with an announced meeting of Russian Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Dmytro Kouleba and their Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu Thursday in Turkey.

However, hopes of success are slim, Vladimir Putin continuing to set as a precondition for any dialogue Kyiv’s acceptance of all Moscow’s demands, in particular the demilitarization of Ukraine and a neutral status for this country.

US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they were “determined to continue to increase the cost” inflicted on Russia, according to a statement released Monday. by the White House after a videoconference.


PHOTO ADAM SCHULTZ, THE WHITE HOUSE VIA AP

Joe Biden spoke by videoconference with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A possible embargo on Russian gas and oil was mentioned on this occasion, but Joe Biden “has not made a decision at this stage,” said Washington.

Russia has warned of the “catastrophic consequences” such a move would have for the global market.

The European Union also launched on Monday the long and complex procedure for examining the membership applications of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, submitted last week, which could further exacerbate the tensions with Moscow.

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