Russia’s defence ministry has announced that the Russian military will on Monday hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities at 10:00 Moscow time (0700 GMT), Al Jazeera quoted Interfax news agency as saying.
The corridors will include the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and cities like Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy, where PREMIUM TIMES reported that hundreds of Nigerians are held up.
The Nigerian foreign affairs minister had earlier given an indication of a possible safe corridor in Sumy when he said Nigeria would begin the evacuation of its citizens from Sumy Monday (today).
PREMIUM TIMES reported that over 300 Nigerian students are held up in Sumy, a Ukrainian city that borders Russia and has witnessed repeated bombings by the Russian military.
The safe corridors announced by Russia are being set up at the personal request of French President Emmanuel Macron and in view of the current situation in those cities, the Interfax report quoted by AlJazeera stated.
The announcement comes after two attempts to evacuate civilians in Mariupol through the designated humanitarian corridors failed on Saturday and Sunday.
Evacuations from the port city of Mariupol were scheduled to begin at noon local time during a ceasefire on Sunday, according to Ukrainian military authorities.
Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the planned evacuations were halted because of an ongoing assault. “There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom,“ he wrote on Telegram.
Pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine’s National Guard accused each other of failing to establish a humanitarian corridor. The Interfax news agency quoted an official of the Donetsk separatist administration who accused the Ukrainian forces of failing to observe the limited ceasefire.
Turkish President intervenes
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also urged President Putin to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement, his office said.
In a statement after an hour-long phone call, the Turkish presidency said Mr Erdogan told Mr Putin that Turkey was ready to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Turkish leader said that a ceasefire would ease concerns over the humanitarian situation.
“President Erdogan renewed his call of ‘let’s pave the way for peace together’,” his office said. “Erdogan emphasised the importance of taking urgent steps to achieve a ceasefire, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement.”
Responding to Mr Erdogan, President Putin in the phone call said Russia would halt its military operation only if Ukraine stopped fighting and Moscow’s demands were met, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Mr Putin said the operation was going according to plan and to schedule.
The Russian leader said he hoped Ukrainian negotiators would take a more constructive approach at talks and take into account the reality on the ground, the statement added.