Ukrainian authorities have announced a temporary ceasefire along six evacuation routes for civilians in besieged or occupied cities, though a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the arrangement as prior efforts at securing the safety of humanitarian corridors have mostly failed, with Russia and Ukraine trading blame.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video message on Telegram on Wednesday that Russian authorities had confirmed the ceasefire along six evacuation routes, and that word of the arrangement had been conveyed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The ceasefire is to last from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. local time on March 9, Vereshchuk said. The humanitarian corridors lead out of Sumy in the northeast, Mariupol on the Azov Sea coast, Enerhodar in the south, Volnovakha in the southeast, Izyum in the east, and several towns around the capital Kyiv, she said.
Prior ceasefire efforts around humanitarian corridors have mostly been unsuccessful, with only one evacuation route open out of Sumy. Around 5,000 people were evacuated out of Sumy on Tuesday.
The head of the ICRS said Wednesday he hopes the current thrust to establish humanitarian corridors will be successful after earlier efforts bore little fruit.
Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC, told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio on Wednesday that his organization has been working for days to bring the warring parties together and encourage them to hold detailed military-to-military talks on enabling civilians to flee.
Maurer said it’s important that agreements succeed “because the military units stand close to each other and the smallest uncertainty, as we have seen in recent days, leads instantly to exchanges of fire, and that makes the escape routes impossible.”
A series of local ceasefires to let civilians evacuate leave have collapsed since efforts began on Saturday to get them operating safely.
Former NATO Gen. Egon Ramms told German media outlet ARD that, while he hopes the ceasefires would hold, a prerequisite is for both sides to cease hostilities.
By Tom Ozimek