Teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross are ready to “facilitate the safe passage of civilians” from Ukraine’s strategic port city of Mariupol, the aid agency said on Thursday after reaching a local temporary ceasefire agreement.
The ICRC said in a statement, “For logistics and safety reasons, we will be ready to lead safe routing operations tomorrow, Friday, provided all parties agree to the exact terms, including route, start time and duration.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said on Thursday that several dozen Ukrainian buses were carrying civilians from the besieged city after Russia’s military promised a ceasefire from the southern Black Sea port city to the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhya on Friday morning. Will go
Vereshchuk said on Wednesday that the two sides had agreed to open three evacuation corridors and one corridor would be used to evacuate Mariupol and deliver humanitarian aid to Burdyansk, about 85 kilometers southwest of Mariupol.
Similar evacuation plans collapsed over allegations of fighting along the Mariupol corridor, where thousands were stranded for weeks without food, water and heat during the attack.
“It is extremely important that this operation takes place,” the ICRC said. “The lives of thousands of people in Mariupol depend on it.”
The Ukrainian government and the ICRC said on Wednesday that Russian forces also damaged a Red Cross warehouse in Mariupol. The agency said it had delivered all supplies from the warehouse earlier in March and no staff members have been on site since March 15.
frequent Russian attacks
A day after Ukrainian officials said Russia had violated its promise to reduce military operations on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv, Britain’s defense ministry said on Thursday that “important Russian shelling and missile strikes continue”. Chernihiv.
The UK Defense Ministry also said that “Russian forces remain in positions east and west of Kyiv despite the withdrawal of a limited number of units.”
The ministry said heavy fighting continued in Mariupol but Ukrainian forces remained in control of the city centre.
In a video address on Thursday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country’s military was preparing for more Russian strikes in southeastern Ukraine after repulsing Russia’s attacks on Kyiv.
Of the southeastern region, Zelensky said Russia has demanded from Ukraine, “there is a build-up of the Russian army for new attacks on the Donbass and we are preparing for it.”
Recently declassified US intelligence suggests that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its sixth week, is fueling a rift between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his senior military advisers.
Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the information, a US official confirmed to the VOA on Wednesday, “There is now a constant tension between Putin and the (Ministry of Defense) Ministry of Defense.”
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield expanded on that Wednesday for reporters.
“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisers are not telling him the truth,” Bedingfield said. afraid.” “So, it is increasingly clear that Putin’s war is a strategic blunder that has left Russia vulnerable in the long run, and increasingly isolated on the world stage.”
US President Joe Biden spoke with Zelensky on Wednesday about fulfilling “main security assistance requests by Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.
According to the statement, the two leaders also discussed “continued efforts by the United States with allies and partners to identify additional capabilities to help the Ukrainian military defend its country”.
“President Biden informed President Zelensky that the United States intends to provide $500 million in direct budgetary support to the Ukrainian government,” the White House said, adding that the Ukrainian leader updated Biden on the status of the talks. .
In a video address on Wednesday, Zelensky said, “I thank the United States for a new package of humanitarian assistance of $1 billion and an additional $500 million in direct budgetary assistance. I also underlined that the turning point is now.” “
On the diplomatic front, Russia said on Wednesday that there were no signs of success in Istanbul’s in-person peace talks with Ukraine earlier this week by Turkey.
Turkey’s top diplomat Mevlut Kavusoglu said in a televised interview on Thursday that Turkey is working to get both sides back on the bargaining table within two weeks. But the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arkhamia, said on Thursday that talks would resume via video conference on Friday.
VOA national security correspondent Jeff Seldin, Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb, United Nations correspondent Margaret Beshir and White House correspondent Anita Powell contributed to this report.