Amid the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine, as of 07:00 GMT, the Russian Defense Ministry has declared a ceasefire in Ukraine in order to open humanitarian corridors for civilians so they can leave the encircled Azov Sea port city of Mariupol, around 110km from Donetsk.
Moscow has agreed to create safe green routes with Ukraine to allow children, women, and the elderly to leave the besieged communities with the Red Cross acting as the guarantor of the ceasefire.
Civilians have until 4 pm local time to leave by car or bus via three evacuation routes and the evacuation is organized in several stages that will span over several days.
Amid strict warnings not to deviate from the route, Mariupol civilians will use buses to leave the city while those traveling by car have been urged to take as many people as they can.
Although Russia recognizes Mariupol as part of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the city has been under Ukraine’s control since 2014. According to Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko, the ceasefire will allow authorities to try to restore electricity and water supply as well as cell phone service.
Mariupol local officials will also seek to deliver food and first-aid kits to civilians.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk informed that another humanitarian corridor was established for the nearby town of Volnovakha, also controlled by the Ukrainians.
The safe passages had been agreed with Ukraine during the second round of peace talks in Belarus on Thursday and officials plan to evacuate more than 200,000 people from Mariupol and more than 15,000 from Volnovakha.
The discussion over the possibility of temporarily ceasing hostilities in order for civilians to evacuate was also confirmed by Mikhail Podolyak, a member of Ukraine’s negotiation team.
Arguing that it was defending the DPR and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), which broke away from Ukraine after the 2014 coup in Kyiv, Russia launched an attack on Ukraine aimed at demilitarization and denazification of the country.