LVIV/KYIV, Ukraine, March 7 (Reuters) – Russia’s military will hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities on Monday, the Defence Ministry said, after fighting halted weekend evacuation efforts and civilian casualties from Russia’s invasion mounted.
The corridors will opened at 10 a.m. Moscow time (700 GMT) from the capital Kyiv as well as the cities of Kharkiv and Sumy and are being set up at the personal request of French President Emmanuel Macron, the ministry said.
“Attempts by the Ukrainian side to deceive Russia and the whole civilised world … are useless this time,” the ministry said.
Russia’s invasion has been condemned around the world, sent more than 1.5 million Ukrainians fleeing abroad, and triggered sweeping Western-led sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy.
Japan, which counts Russia as its fifth-biggest supplier of crude oil, is also in discussion with the United States and European countries about possibly banning Russian oil imports, Kyodo News reported on Monday.
Russian forces are converging on Kyiv, a city of 3 million, but have faced stiff resistance and have suffered heavy losses, according to Ukrainian authorities.
The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian forces were “beginning to accumulate resources for the storming of Kyiv”, after days of slow progress in their main advance on the capital, south from Belarus.
About 200,000 people remained trapped in the besieged Black Sea port of Mariupol, most sleeping underground to escape more than six days of shelling by Russian forces that has cut off food, water, power and heating, according to the Ukrainian authorities. read more
About half of the 400,000 people in the city were due to be evacuated on Sunday but that effort was aborted for a second day when a ceasefire plan collapsed as the sides accused each other of failing to stop shooting and shelling. Ukrainian authorities said on Monday the southern city of Mykolayiv was being shelled.