Moscow announces ceasefire around Mariupol

Mariupol would be the biggest city to be seized by Russia since it invaded Ukraine

Mariupol would be the biggest city to be seized by Russia since it invaded Ukraine [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters] (Reuters)

Russia’s defence ministry on Monday announced a ceasefire around the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to allow a civilian evacuation from the industrial area that has been sheltering the remaining Ukrainian resistance in the port city.

Russian troops “from 14:00 Moscow time (11:00 GMT) on April 25, 2022, will unilaterally stop any hostilities, withdraw units to a safe distance and ensure the withdrawal of” civilians, the defence ministry said in a statement.

It said the civilians will be taken “in any direction they have chosen”.

It added that the Ukrainian side should show “readiness” to start the humanitarian evacuations “by raising white flags” at Azovstal.

According to the ministry, this information will be communicated to those inside Azovstal “via radio channels” every 30 minutes.

Ukraine’s deputy minister said Moscow had not yet agreed to its request for a humanitarian corridor to let wounded soldiers and civilians leave the plant.

“Unfortunately, there are no agreements on humanitarian corridors from Azovstal today,” deputy PM Iryna Vershchuk said on Telegram.

Russia last week said it had gained full control of the strategic eastern Ukrainian city, except for its huge Azovstal industrial area.

President Vladimir Putin ordered a blockade of the steelworks, where hundreds of civilians are reportedly sheltering with Ukrainian troops.

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