Officials in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian forces, said they were delaying an evacuation of the civilian population, accusing Moscow’s troops of breaking a ceasefire.
“Due to the fact that the Russian side does not adhere to the ceasefire and has continued shelling both of Mariupol itself and its environs and for security reasons, the evacuation of the civilian population has been postponed,” city officials said in a statement on social media.
Mariupol, a southern city of about 450,000 people on the Azov Sea, was scheduled to begin the evacuations at 0900 GMT, after Russian forces agreed a ceasefire to allow civilians to leave the fighting.
“We ask all Mariupol residents to disperse and head to places where they can shelter. More information about the evacuation will be posted soon,” municipal officials wrote.
“At the moment, negotiations are underway with Russia to establish a ceasefire and ensure a safe humanitarian corridor,” the statement added.
Since President Vladimir Putin’s army invaded on February 24, Russia has pummelled Ukrainian cities, killed hundreds of civilians and assaulted Europe’s largest atomic power plant.
The invasion has drawn condemnation and severe sanctions from Western nations balancing punishment of the Kremlin with fears of a hazardous escalation. Moscow has seized two key cities in its 10-day-long invasion, Berdiansk and Kherson on Ukraine’s southern Black Sea coast.