- Moscow proposes six humanitarian corridors, including three routes leading to Russia
- Ukraine accuses Russia of trying to manipulate world leaders
- Ukrainian and Russian officials meet for a third round of negotiations
- China emphasizes ‘rock solid’ relations with Russia
- EU expects to receive 5 million refugees from Ukraine
Russia announced a new ceasefire and the establishment of safe corridors to allow civilians to flee some besieged Ukrainian cities Monday, but the evacuation routes led mostly to Russia and its ally Belarus, drawing withering criticism from Ukraine and others.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said a Russian proposal to evacuate civilians out of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy is not an acceptable option as the humanitarian corridors mostly lead to Russian cities.
Earlier on Monday, Russia proposed six humanitarian corridors. Three of them exited to Russian cities, one to Belarus and two to central and southeastern Ukraine.
Vereshchuk called on Russia to agree to a cease-fire from Monday morning to allow Ukrainians to evacuate toward the western Ukrainian city of Lviv instead.
Ukraine received Russia’s proposal early on Monday morning after French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vereshchuk told a televised briefing.
“I hope that French President Emmanuel Macron understands that his name and sincere desire to help… in reality is being used and manipulated by the Russian Federation,” she said.
Efforts to set up safe corridors for civilians to leave besieged areas over the weekend fell apart. But the Russian Defence Ministry announced this new push on Monday, saying civilians would be allowed to leave the capital of Kyiv, the southern port city of Mariupol and the cities of Kharkiv and Sumy.
Ukraine has said humanitarian corridors out of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy that lead to Russia and Belarus are “immoral.”
Ukrainian officials accused Moscow of resorting to “medieval siege” tactics in some places, and in one encircled city, Mariupol, there was no sign yet of an evacuation.
In Mariupol, where an estimated 200,000 people hoping to flee were becoming increasingly desperate, Red Cross officials waited to hear when a safe humanitarian corridor would be established. The city is short on water, food and power, and mobile phone networks are down. Shops have been looted as residents search for essential goods.
Police moved through the city advising people to remain in shelters until they heard official messages broadcast over loudspeakers to evacuate. Russia and Ukraine traded blame after a planned evacuation mostly failed over the weekend there.
Poland, the country receiving the largest numbers of refugees from Russia’s war against Ukraine, on Monday approved legislation offering financial help to refugees and allowing them to stay legally in the country for 18 months.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described helping the Ukrainians as the most important challenge Poland has faced in decades, and he argued that the efforts “cannot be only spontaneous.”
Poland has accepted more than 1 million refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than half of the 1.7 million to flee.
Poles have sought to help fleeing Ukrainians in multiple ways, with volunteers showing up at the borders to feed and help people, and often to take them into their own homes. Many have taken time off work to help, a form of assistance that will not be sustainable.
Under the new regulation, Ukrainian citizens will have the right to stay legally in Poland for 18 months and will be allowed to work legally. They will receive medical help and get a one-time allowance of 300 zlotys ($66) per person.
Polish citizens will receive 40 zlotys a day to house Ukrainians for up to two months.
The two sides met for more talks today,
The third round of Russian-Ukrainian talks aimed at finding a settlement to the conflict in Ukraine began Monday evening in Belarus, Russian and Belarusian news agencies reported.
The third round of talks began in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, a national park on the Belarusian-Polish border, the Belarusian news agency Belta said on its Telegram account, posting a photo of Russian and Ukrainian delegations sitting at the negotiating table.
Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would cease its aggression “in a moment” if the Ukrainian government agreed to its terms, including enshrining neutrality in the country’s constitution, recognising Crimea as Russian territory and the two Donbas self-proclaimed republics as independent states.
Kyiv is believed to have rejected those conditions outright.
Their foreign ministers are also scheduled to meet in Turkey on Thursday, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.