12-hour Ceasefire To Allow Civilians Escape Ukraine Through Humanitarian Corridors

ceasefire march9 lt

Following the first successful mass evacuations of civilians from the besieged Ukrainian cities Tuesday, the Ukrainian military has agreed with Russia to a 12-hour ceasefire on Wednesday to allow more civilians to escape the country through six humanitarian corridors.

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that Prime Minister Denys Shmygal will discuss with the International Committee of the Red Cross Wednesday about the proposed routes where the armed fighting will be suspended. The 12 hour ceasefire started at 9 a.m. local time.

Out of the six "green corridors" through which civilians will be allowed to escape, the port city of Mariupol and the eastern town of Volnovakha are mostly under the control of Russian forces.

About 5,000 people fled the embattled city of Sumy on Tuesday following days of deadly Russian bombardment.

At least 1.33 million people have arrived in Poland from Ukraine during the 13-days-old Russian invasion, Poland's embassy to the European Union said on Twitter.

Russian government said a Foreign Minister-level meeting of Russia and Ukraine will take place in Turkey on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a senior Pentagon official said Russian progress in the north to take Kyiv is stalled. Russian forces are trying to attack Kyiv from the east. "We estimate that they're about 60 kilometers or so from the city," the official said.

In the south, Mariupol is isolated but still fighting, and the official said it appears the Russians are looking to attack the port city of Odesa from the landward side. This could be joined by an amphibious attack as the Russians have 11 amphibious ships in the region.

Avril Haines, the director of U.S. National Intelligence, told the Congress during a testimony on Tuesday that the intelligence community assesses that Russian President Vladimir Putin will escalate — "essentially doubling down" — to achieve Ukrainian disarmament and neutrality to prevent it from further integrating with the U.S. and NATO if it doesn't reach some diplomatic negotiation.

UK Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence update that Ukraine has probably prevented Russia from "achieving any degree of control of the air."

But at the same time, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain "encircled by Russian forces and continue to suffer heavy Russian shelling."

On Tuesday, the United States banned imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal.

When reporters sought his message for the American people on gas prices, Biden said the prices are "going to go up," for which he held "Russia responsible."

Last year, the U.S. imported nearly 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum products from Russia and this step will deprive Russia of billions of dollars in revenues from U.S. drivers and consumers annually, according to the White House.

Britain said it will phase out "the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022."

The European Union plans to cut the import of natural gas from Russia by two-thirds in 2022 and become completely independent later this decade.

Dutch brewer Heineken has become the latest major brand to halt operations in Russia. The company said it is stopping the sale, production and advertising of its Heineken brand beer in the country.

The New York Times has pulled all its correspondents from Russia, for the first time in more than a century.

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