Russia has promised another temporary ceasefire to allow civilians to escape from besieged cities – despite failing to honour similar previous pledges.
Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defence Control Centre, said Russian forces would “observe a regime of silence” from 10am Moscow time (7am UK time) on Wednesday, which would allow civilians to safely leave Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, according to the Russian TASS news agency.
It was unclear if the proposed humanitarian corridors would pass through Russia or Belarus – conditions previously rejected by Ukraine as “immoral”.
An air alert was declared on Wednesday morning in and around Kyiv, with residents urged to get to bomb shelters as quickly as possible.
“Kyiv region – air alert. Threat of a missile attack. Everyone immediately to shelters,” regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.
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‘5,000 Ukrainians evacuated in first successful humanitarian corridor’
The first successful route since the invasion began opened on Tuesday and allowed civilians to leave Sumy.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that 5,000 people, including 1,700 international students, were evacuated.
She said another planned evacuation from the southern port of Mariupol failed on Tuesday because Russian troops fired on a Ukrainian convoy carrying humanitarian cargo.
The Russian military has denied firing on convoys.
The number of Ukrainian refugees has surpassed two million, according to the UN.
Diplomatic efforts continue after ban on Russian oil imports
Diplomatic efforts are set to continue today, with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss due to meet her US counterpart Antony Blinken to discuss more efforts to help Ukraine and reduce energy reliance on Russia.
The US previously announced a ban on Russian oil and gas imports, while the UK pledged to phase them out by the end of 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised President Joe Biden’s decision, saying he was “grateful” for “this most powerful signal to the whole world”.
“It is very simple: every penny paid to Russia turns into bullets and projectiles that fly to other sovereign states,” he said.
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US Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to meet Polish officials today, with talks expected to focus on US efforts to help Poland and other eastern European countries that have taken in the large numbers of refugees.
The discussions come after the Pentagon dismissed Poland’s offer to give all of its MIG-29 fighter jets to the US so they can be passed to Ukraine, saying the proposal is not “tenable”.
The Russian foreign ministry is due to give a news conference at 12pm Moscow time (9am UK time).