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Russia has announced a ceasefire in 2 regions of Ukraine for evacuation

Kyiv – The Russian military is observing a ceasefire in two regions of Ukraine to allow civilians to evacuate, Russian state media reported on Saturday, but there was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine. This would be the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had agreed evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern city of Volnovakha “from 10 a.m. Moscow time.” It is not clear in a vague statement how long the routes will remain open.

The head of the Security Council of Ukraine, Alexei Danilov, called on Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and adults to get out of the fighting, calling such corridors a “question-1”.

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As Russian forces break up strategic positions, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all people who die from this day on will also die for you.”

NATO says the no-fly zone could provoke a widespread war in Europe with a nuclear-armed Russia. But as the United States and other NATO members send weapons to Kyiv and more than 1 million refugees spill across the continent, the conflict is already drawing countries far beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Russia continues to fight independent media coverage of the war, also blocking Facebook and Twitter, and several publications say they are shutting down the country.

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And as a warning of the impending famine crisis, the UN World Food Program says millions of people in Ukraine, a major global supplier of wheat, will need food aid “immediately.”

Ukraine’s president was scheduled to brief U.S. senators on Saturday as Congress considered a $ 10 billion request for emergency funding for humanitarian aid and security needs.

In a bitter and emotional speech late Friday, Zelensky criticized NATO for the lack of a no-fly zone, saying he would completely untie Russia’s hands as it escalated its air strike.

“The alliance has given the green light for the bombing of Ukrainian towns and villages,” he said, warning that “Europe’s history will remember this forever.”

Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ruled out a no-fly zone, saying NATO planes would have to shoot down Russian planes.

In a separate video message to anti-war protesters in several European cities, Zelenski continued to appeal for help. “If we fall, you will fall,” he said.

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The UN Security Council has scheduled an open meeting Monday for the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The UN estimates that 12 million people in Ukraine and 4 million fleeing to neighboring countries in the coming months will need humanitarian assistance.

Russian forces did not make significant progress on Friday in their offensive to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black and Azov Seas, which will deal a serious blow to the country’s economy. There were no changes in either the north or the east, where the Russian offensive met fierce Ukrainian resistance.

While a huge Russian armored column threatening Ukraine’s capital remained stagnant outside Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military launched hundreds of missile and artillery attacks on cities and other sites across the country.

Adviser to Ukrainian President Alexei Arestovich said air and artillery battles continue northwest of Kyiv, and the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka have come under heavy fire.

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He said Ukrainian forces still hold the northern city of Chernihiv and the southern city of Nikolaev. Ukrainian artillery also protected Ukraine’s largest port city, Odessa, from repeated attempts by Russian ships, he said.

More than 840 children were injured in the war and 28 were killed, according to the Ukrainian government. A total of 331 civilians have been confirmed, but the true number is likely to be much higher, the UN Office for Human Rights said.

Kyiv’s central railway station remained crowded with people desperate to flee the capital. “People just want to live,” said one woman, Xenia.

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Follow the PA’s coverage of the crisis in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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Russia has announced a ceasefire in 2 regions of Ukraine for evacuation

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