Ukraine officials reach pact with Russia on evacuation corridor for Mariupol

Ukrainian officials said Thursday that an evacuation corridor had been approved with the Russians for the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

The Ukrainian side received a message through the International Committee of the Red Cross ascertaining Russian readiness to open a “humanitarian corridor” from Mariupol through the city of Berdiansk, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on Telegram.

“On the route to Mariupol we are sending 45 buses,” she said. “28 buses have to get a permit to pass through the Russian checkpoint in Vasylivka. Also, 17 buses have already left Zaporizhzhia.

We will do everything possible to ensure that buses arrive in Mariupol today and pick up people who haven’t yet been able to leave the city.”

According to Ukrainian officials,  around 90% of the buildings in the city have been damaged or left uninhabitable after weeks of intensive bombardment by Russian forces.

Additional corridors had been approved for delivery of humanitarian aid and evacuation of people from the city of Melitopol, Vereshchuk said, and for a column of people in private vehicles to leave the city of Enerhodar for Zaporizhzhia.

“Our military has fully confirmed and guarantees a full ceasefire,” Vereshchuk said. “So at 9 a.m. we start the evacuation.”

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior official in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, also confirmed 45 buses would be sent to support the evacuation plan.

Earlier, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said the corridor would open at 10 a.m.,Russian state news agency TASS reports.

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