Ukraine says it has reached an agreement with Russia on establishing ten humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from the besieged cities and towns.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on national television on Saturday that Kiev had sealed the deal for an immediate opening of the corridors. Moscow has yet to comment or verify the agreement.
Vereshchuk also said civilians trying to flee the besieged port city of Mariupol would have to leave in private cars since Russian forces would not let buses through their checkpoints. More than 100,000 people still needed to be evacuated from the southern port city, she added.
Mariupol, home to about 400,000 people, has been under heavy bombardment for weeks. Civilians trapped there have been sheltering in basements with little food, power or running water. Previous attempts to arrange safe passage out of the port city have failed.
Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for the occasional failure of humanitarian corridors in recent weeks.
It was February 24 when President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The conflict has provoked a unanimous response from Western countries, which have imposed a long list of sanctions on Moscow. Russia says it will halt the military operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow’s list of demands, including ruling out Ukraine’s membership in NATO.
The military conflict has so far displaced more than 3.5 million people in what the United Nations has described as the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
Ukrainian forces stage counteroffensive around Kharkiv
Meanwhile, Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said Ukrainian forces had carried out a counteroffensive in areas surrounding the second-largest city.
“We are not only defending our positions, but also liberating our temporarily occupied land. Several settlements were liberated, and fighting for our territories is under way in the direction [of] Rohan. Fighting also continues in the Izium direction and Chuhuiv direction,” he said in a statement on Telegram on Saturday.
The claims could not be independently verified.
Russia claims new missile strikes on military targets in Ukraine
Moscow says it has launched new missile strikes on military targets in western, central and southwestern Ukraine.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Saturday that sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles "destroyed a warehouse with ammunition and weapons near the settlement of Velyki Korovyntsi, Zhytomyr region.”
“Also, a high-precision Onyx cruise missile destroyed a fuel base in the Mykolaiv area, which supplied the AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] grouping in the southern part of Ukraine with fuel.”
Ukraine’s foreign, defense ministers hold joint meeting with US counterparts
Separately on Saturday, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he, along with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, had held a joint meeting with their US counterparts for the first time.
“We discuss current issues & cooperation in political and defense directions between Ukraine and the United States,” Reznikov said on his Twitter account, posting a photograph of the meeting in the Polish capital, Warsaw, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.