Russia announces ceasefire in Mariupol

·3-min read

Russia announced a new ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor on for civilians trapped in a steel plant in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

According to the Defence Ministry in Moscow, the Russian army was set to cease hostilities at 2 pm local time on Monday and civilians should then be able to leave the industrial zone via a humanitarian corridor.

The Azovstal steel plant became a last refuge for the people still trapped in Mariupol.

According to Russian sources, about 2,500 Ukrainian fighters and foreign mercenaries are still there. Kiev says there are also 1,000 civilians in the steel plant.

Early on Monday, a series of Russian offensives were blocked in eastern Ukraine, according to reports out of Kiev.

The news comes after a night of secretive meetings between Ukrainian officials and visiting US envoys.

Ukrainian sources also said that five railway stations in central and western Ukraine have been hit by missile strikes.

"Russian forces are systematically destroying the infrastructure of our railyways," the head of the country's railways, Olexandr Kamishin wrote on his Telegram channel.

Reports of missile attacks also emerged from Lviv in the west and Vinnytsia in the south-west of Ukraine.

The reports are impossible to confirm independently.

The civilian death toll amid the Russian invasion stands at 3,818 according to Ukrainian district attorney Iryna Venediktova, in comments reported by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

She noted, however, that the statistics are incomplete, as authorities are unable to investigate in many parts of the country due to the ongoing invasion.

Meanwhile, Kiev does not want to remove the goal of joining NATO from its constitution, even though this is one of the main targets of Russia's aggression on its neighbour.

"Amendments to the constitution are not an end in themselves and will not become one," Parliamentary Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk told the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda in an interview published on Monday.

Stefanchuk also stressed that the territorial integrity of the country is a "red line," as Moscow is also demanding Ukraine to officially renounce the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, and the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

US media reported after the late-night visit on Sunday by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that more high-level diplomatic visits are expected this week. More offers of military aid are apparently expected.

The two men met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as well as other high-ranking Cabinet officials. Most details about the visit - even its planning - were kept under tight wraps by the White House.

Blinken said after the visit to Kiev that Russia is coming up short in its attempts to conquer Ukraine.

"When it comes to Russia's war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding," he said.

US President Joe Biden did say that he plans to return the US diplomatic presence to Ukraine.

He nominated Bridget Brink, the current US envoy to Slovakia, to be ambassador to Ukraine. This must now be approved by Congress.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting