Hundreds of thousands of civilians remained trapped in Ukrainian cities on Thursday, sheltering from Russian air raids and shelling as talks between Ukraine and Russia’s foreign ministers made little apparent progress.
With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine entering its third week, officials in Mariupol said Russian warplanes again bombed the encircled southern port city where a maternity hospital was pulverised on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainian authorities had managed to evacuate almost 40,000 people from the cities of Sumy, Trostyanets, Krasnopillya, Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel and Izyum, but Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said not a single civilian was able to leave Mariupol on Thursday as Russian forces failed to respect a temporary ceasefire to allow evacuations.
Efforts to send food, water and medicine into the city failed when Russian tanks attacked a humanitarian corridor, Zelenskiy said.
Russia’s defence ministry said earlier that it would declare a ceasefire on Friday and open humanitarian corridors from Mariupol as well as Kyiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has so far failed to reach its stated objectives, but has caused thousands of deaths and forced more than 2 million people to flee Ukraine, where several cities are under siege.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the war and the massive sanctions imposed on Russia as punishment have triggered a contraction in global trade and sent food and energy prices sharply higher, which will force the IMF to lower its global growth forecast next month.