Sputnik reported that Russia declared a ceasefire starting at 07:00 GMT (12:30 AM IST) on Saturday, opening humanitarian corridors for civilians. The ceasefire comes amid heavy bombing of Ukrainian cities including Kiev, Kharkov, Sumy, Chernigov, and Mariupol. Over one million people have fled from Ukraine to neighboring nations – Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and Moldova.
Russia announces ceasefire in Mariupol and Volnovakha
“Today, on 5 March at 10 AM-4 PM Moscow time, the Russian side declares a ceasefire and opens humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha”, the Russian Defence Ministry told reporters in ”Russia”. The ministry added that the humanitarian corridors and exit routes have been agreed upon with the Ukrainian side. The Mariupol-Nikolskoe-Rozovka-Pologi-Orekhov-Zaporizhzhia route has been chosen as a humanitarian corridor, said the authorities of Mariupol, quoted Sputnik.
The ceasefire is declared for 9 am- 4 pm today (local time). The evacuation of civilians is set to start at 11 am. Mariupol, of 440,000 people, and Volnovakha, of 21,000 people, have been largely cut off water, heat, and electricity: Ukraine’s The Kyiv Independent
— ANI (@ANI) March 5, 2022
Mikhail Podolyak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, announced that 200,000 people wanted to evacuate Mariupol, while 20,000 wanted to leave Volnovakha (a city in the Donetsk region), according to Sputnik. Volnovakha and Mariupol, two of Ukraine’s largest ports, are currently under blockade by Russian-backed forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Donetsk and Lugansk have been declared ‘independent regions’ by Putin.
Russia steps up the offense
During a heavy gun battle and firing on Friday, Russia intensified its attack on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya NPP, causing a fire to break out in a training building outside. The fire was caused by heavy shelling by the Russian Army and was contained within 2,000 square meters by 6:20 am (Ukrainian time). Later, Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, but its State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRIU) still runs it. Its massive 40 km convoy of tanks is inching closer to Kyiv, bombing suburbs, civilian buildings, and military posts alike.
Russia invades Ukraine
For weeks, Moscow massed over 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, threatening an invasion in an effort to pressure Western nations not to allow Ukraine to join NATO. Earlier this week, Putin ordered a special military operation in Ukraine’s Donbas region, which quickly evolved into precision airstrikes on Kiev, Kharkiv, and Ivano-Frankivsk, and deployed tanks towards Lviv from the Belarus-Ukraine border. There are heavy air attacks and missiles from the sea, air, and land between the Russian and Ukrainian armies in Sumy, Poltava, Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Kherson. Over one million Ukrainians have fled, and many are staying in bomb shelters.
As Ukraine continues to hold Kharkiv and Kyiv, both nations agreed to hold talks at the Ukraine-Belarus border (Gomel) on Sunday. During the first round of talks, Ukraine demanded a ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. The two sides decided to continue discussions. Ukraine has applied to be a member of the European Union. NATO has rejected Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. During the war against Russia, Ukraine has lost 352 civilians, including 14 children.