Evacuation corridors set up in 2 Ukrainian cities, but Russian violations reported

Soon after Russia and Ukraine announced on Saturday that citizens in the besieged city of Mariupol would temporarily be allowed to evacuate through a humanitarian corridor, reports emerged of Russia blocking the routes.

Early Saturday, the Mariupol City Council said on its Telegram channel that Russian forces — which are over a week into an all-out assault on Ukraine — would reduce operations for five hours to allow civilians to flee. The Russian defense ministry also confirmed its plans in a separate statement.

A similar arrangement was established in the nearby town of Volnovakha, a senior Ukrainian official confirmed.

However, within hours, the city of Mariupol said that Russian forces were continuing the shelling, and it told its residents to stay home.

“Unfortunately, when we were already ready, the regular army of the Russian Federation began shelling along the corridor,” the city said on social media. “This does not give us a sense of security … Negotiations are underway now. As soon as we … will receive a security guarantee, we will additionally announce this.”

Mariupol and Volnovakha have been two of the hardest-hit cities during Russia’s offensive, bearing the brunt of Moscow’s attempts to gain strategic sites in southeast Ukraine.

The development comes as Russian and Ukrainian delegations prepare to meet Saturday for a third round of talks amid the intensifying conflict, which has seen Russian forces bomb residential areas. Two prior rounds of talks failed to produce any substantial progress toward a ceasefire, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no sign of backing down.

The planned talks follow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s urgent call to NATO Friday to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine — a step NATO has ruled out for fear that it could bring the military alliance into direct confrontation with Russia.

“All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of [NATO], because of your weakness, because of your lack of unity,” he said.

This story has been updated.

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