Even as Russia announced a ceasefire starting Monday morning and the opening of humanitarian corridors in several areas, its armed forces continued to pummel Ukrainian cities, with multiple rocket launchers hitting residential buildings.
The limited ceasefire announcement came a day after hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians attempting to flee to safety were forced to shelter from Russian shelling of cities in Ukraine’s center, north and south. Officials from both sides planned a third round of talks Monday.
Russian forces continued their offensive, opening fire on the city of Mykolaiv, 480km south of the capital of Kyiv, Ukraine’s General Staff said Monday morning. Rescuers said they were putting out fires in residential areas caused by rocket attacks.
Shelling also continued in the suburbs of Kyiv, including Irpin, which has been cut off from electricity, water and heating for three days.
“Russia continues to carry out rocket, bomb and artillery strikes on the cities and settlements of Ukraine,” the General Staff said. “The invaders continue to use the airfield network of Belarus to carry out air strikes on Ukraine.”
The Russians have also been targeting humanitarian corridors, taking women and children hostage and placing weapons in residential areas of cities, according to the General Staff.
A Russian task force said a ceasefire would start Monday morning, the 12th day of the war, for civilians from Kyiv, the southern port city of Mariupol, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and Sumy.
It wasn’t immediately clear if fighting would stop beyond the areas mentioned in the task force’s statement, or when the ceasefire would end.
The announcement follows two failed attempts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, from which the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated 200,000 people were trying to flee. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the failure. The Russian task force said Monday’s ceasefire and the opening of the corridors was announced at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.
Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, citing the Defence Ministry, show that civilians will be able to leave to Russia and Belarus. Russian forces will be observing the ceasefire with drones, the task force said.