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Ukraine pauses civilian evacuations, says Russia broke cease-fire

A bust of Taras Shevchenko, Ukrainian poet and national symbol, stands against the devastation after a night air raid in the village of Byshiv
Associated Press/Efrem Lukatsky

Ukraine is pausing civilian evacuations in the southeastern city of Mariupol, with Ukrainian officials saying that Russia violated a cease-fire agreement it had announced for both Mariupol and the eastern city of Volnovakha, The Associated Press reported.

“The Russian side is not holding to the cease-fire and has continued firing on Mariupol itself and on its surrounding area,” the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said, according to the AP. “Talks with the Russian Federation are ongoing regarding setting up a ceasefire and ensuring a safe humanitarian corridor.”

Serhiy Orlov, deputy mayor of Mariupol, also told the BBC that residents could not leave because the cease-fire had been broken.

“The Russians said are continuing to bomb us and use artillery. It is crazy,” Orlov told the British broadcaster. “There is no cease-fire in Mariupol and there is no cease-fire all along the route. Our civilians are ready to escape but they cannot escape under shelling.”

The Defense Ministry in Russia said in an earlier statement that it and Ukrainian forces agreed on civilian evacuation routes from both Mariupol and Volnovakha, setting up a temporary cease-fire in those areas, according to the AP.

The development underscores the more complicated picture of the invasion within the country as roughly 1.3 million Ukrainians have fled since Feb. 24, according to data from the U.N.’s refugee agency. 

The international community has widely condemned the invasion, with companies closing stores in Russia or nixing business in the country. Even Russian companies, like the country’s second-largest oil company, Lukoil, has called for peace.

“The Board of Directors of LUKOIL expresses herewith its deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine. Calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict, we express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy,” Lukoil’s board of directors said in a statement on Thursday

“We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy,” the statement continued.

Tags cease-fire Mariupol Russia Ukraine
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