Russia again promises to let Ukrainians flee ‘apocalyptic’ sieges

Russia again promises to let Ukrainians flee ‘apocalyptic’ sieges

LVIV, Ukraine, March 9 (Reuters) – Russia announced a new ceasefire in Ukraine on Wednesday to let civilians flee besieged cities, after days of mostly failed promises that have left hundreds of thousands trapped without access to medicine or fresh water.

Wednesday’s announcement of “silence” was similar to one on Tuesday that promised safe passage from the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol. So far, only one corridor has been opened, out of Sumy on Tuesday.


Ukraine said it too had agreed to halt fire between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. (0700-1900 GMT) to let civilians escape besieged cities through six corridors. In a televised statement, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called on Moscow to observe local ceasefires.

The greatest alarm has been sounded over Mariupol, a southern port totally surrounded by Russian troops for more than a week, where the Red Cross has described the situation faced by civilians as “apocalyptic”.

Residents there have been sheltering underground from relentless bombardment, unable to evacuate their wounded, and with no access to food, water, power or heat.

A series of local ceasefires to let them leave have failed since Saturday. Kyiv said 30 buses and eight trucks of supplies failed to reach it on Tuesday after they came under Russian shelling in violation of the ceasefire. Moscow has blamed Kyiv for failing to halt fire.

In Ukraine’s two biggest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, Russia’s safe passage offer would force civilians to go to Russia itself or its ally Belarus, proposals rejected by Kyiv.

More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion nearly two weeks ago. Moscow calls its action a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbour and dislodge leaders it calls “neo-Nazis.” Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss that as a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war against a democratic country of 44 million people.


The war has swiftly cast Russia into economic isolation never before visited on such a large economy. The United States said on Wednesday it was banning imports of Russian oil, a major change in policy after energy was previously exempted from sanctions.

Western companies have mostly withdrawn from the Russian market. In a stark symbol, McDonalds said on Tuesday it was shutting its nearly 850 restaurants in Russia. Its first, which drew huge queues to Moscow’s Pushkin Square when it opened in 1990, had been an emblem of the end of the Cold War. Starbucks (SBUX.O) , Coca-Cola (KO.N), Pepsi (PEP.O) and others made similar announcements.

Russia said on Wednesday it was preparing a swift response to sanctions that would hit the West’s most sensitive areas. read more

Banishing Russia, the world’s top exporter of combined oil and gas, from markets is sending shockwaves through the global economy at a time when supply chains are already stretched and inflation in the developed world is at levels not seen since the 1980s. Retail fuel pump prices have surged to records.

Both Ukraine and Russia are also major global exporters of food and metals. Prices of grain and food oils have soared worldwide, punishing poor countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Trade in nickel, critical in electric vehicle production, was called off on Tuesday in London after the price more than doubled.



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