Russia has again claimed it would hold to a ceasefire Wednesday morning to allow for the safe passage of Ukrainians fleeing from Kyiv and four other major cities.
The promised humanitarian corridors from the capital, along with Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, come as throngs of citizens remain trapped in those cities amid ongoing attacks from Russia in the area.
It remains to be seen if Russia would keep its word, but under a similar promise Tuesday, the aggressors were accused of fresh war crimes for shelling scores of refugees trying to evacuate along the safe routes.
The head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, Mikhail Mizintsev, said Russian forces would “observe a regime of silence” from 10 am Moscow time on Wednesday.
Hours earlier, residents in Kyiv awoke to an air raid alert urging them to head to bomb shelters.
The alert was later lifted without any attack in the capital that remained generally quiet amid the war, now in its 14th day.
But the capital’s northern suburbs have been besieged by heavy Russian artillery.
Kyiv regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba slammed Russia for “artificially creating a humanitarian crisis in the Kyiv region.”
Kuleba said the aggressors have been “frustrating the evacuation of people and continuing shelling and bombing small communities.”
Two million refugees have fled Ukraine so far, according to the UN, and thousands of people, civilians and soldiers, are believed to have died across the country.
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Aside from the dire situation in Kyiv’s northern suburbs, the port city of Mariupol is in the throes of a humanitarian crisis.
For days, the southern city of 430,000 has been encircled by Russian soldiers.
Corpses lie in the streets of Mariupol and those left behind are breaking into stores in a desperate search for food.
Thousands of people are sheltering in basements amid the sound of Russian shells pounding the strategic port city.
The city saw airstrikes Tuesday, even though one of the city’s Russian forces had said it would allow a safe exit for those eager to leave.
The Russian military denies firing on convoys and claimed that the Ukrainian side is blocking evacuation efforts.
Despite being heavily outnumbered, Ukrainian soldiers have fiercely battled the Russians, especially in the northern suburbs of Kyiv.
The US and NATO allies have supplied Ukraine with thousands of anti-tank weapons.
Poland said Tuesday it was ready to deploy 28 MIG-29 jets to a Germany base so the US could transport them to Ukraine – but the United States threw cold water on the plan.
The Polish proposal, which involved Soviet-era jets owned by NATO allies, “raises serious concerns” and is not “tenable,” U.S. defense officials said.
The US has rejected Zelensky’s calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it could result in “a potential direct war with Russia.”
At the same time, Russia has said efforts to beef up Ukraine’s thin air force by the US would be seen as direct participation in the conflict – something Washington wants to avoid.
With Post wires