Russia Announces New Evacuation Cease-Fires for Besieged Ukrainian Cities

New Aktual Indonesia - Russia announced plans for new cease-fires Wednesday to allow civilians to leave several parts of Ukraine besieged by Russian forces, a day after thousands of people were able to leave a city in northeastern Ukraine while Ukrainian officials accused Russia of shelling another evacuation route in the southern part of the country.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia confirmed evacuation routes would lead out of Sumy, Mariupol, Enerhodar, Volnovakha, Izyum and several towns near the capital, Kyiv.

Vereshchuk said 5,000 people were able to evacuate Sumy on Tuesday.

But in Mariupol, where a Russian siege has left the southeastern porty city with dwindling supplies of electricity, heat, food and water, efforts to get people out Tuesday failed, with Vereshchuk saying Russian forces fired on a humanitarian cargo convoy.

“The situation in Mariupol is apocalyptic,” Red Cross spokesperson Ewan Watson said.

Asked by VOA about Russian shelling of humanitarian corridors, a senior defense official told reporters Tuesday it was “disingenuous” of Russia to declare a humanitarian corridor that goes north into Belarus or Russia.

“Short of stopping the shelling, we and the rest of the international community call on Russia to allow for the safe passage out of city centers for Ukrainian citizens to other places in Ukraine, in their own country,” the official said, reiterating that “the United States is not going to become militarily involved in this fight in Ukraine.”

The European Union agreed Wednesday to bolster its sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion, including measures targeting senior Russian officials and oligarchs as well as restrictions on the maritime sector and several Belarussian banks.

China's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday the Chinese Red Cross is sending about $800,000 worth of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and it reiterated its opposition to sanctions imposed against Russia.

“The U.S. should earnestly and seriously approach China’s concerns when handling the Ukraine issue and its relations with Russia. It should not in any way hurt China’s rights and interests,” spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend the rights and interests of Chinese companies and individuals.”

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