Ray of hope as Russia proposes ceasefire, Ukraine moves away from NATO

Russia announced a ceasefire in the Ukrainian cities of Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia from 07:00 GMT on Wednesday March 9, for humanitarian reasons, in order to proceed with the evacuation of the civilian population.

Russia announced the ceasefire for the evacuation of the civilian population and declared its readiness to provide humanitarian corridors from Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia.

Announcing a humanitarian ceasefire for Wednesday morning, Russia declared a “silent mode”.

The Russian Federation declares a regime of silence and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors, a cell of the Russian Defense Ministry responsible for humanitarian operations in Ukraine has said.

Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of the humanitarian coordination center, said Russia had again offered Ukraine to agree on civilian withdrawal routes.

“This statement must be immediately brought to the attention of the Ukrainian side and proposed before 03:00. [Moscow time, midnight GMT] on March 9, 2022, to agree on the indicated routes and the start time of the humanitarian corridors, as well as to submit a written approval of these approaches, including guarantees to ensure security,” said Mizintsev.

Simultaneously, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was no longer pushing for Ukraine’s NATO membership, a sensitive issue that was one of the reasons Russia gave for invading its pro-Western neighbor. . Zelensky also said he was open to a “compromise” over the status of two dissident pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognized as independent just before he launched the February 24 invasion. “I calmed down on this issue a long time ago after realizing that…NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in an interview that aired on ABC News Monday night.

“The alliance is afraid of controversial things and confrontation with Russia,” the president added. Referring to NATO membership, Zelenskyy said through an interpreter that he did not want to be president of a “country begging for something on its knees”. Russia has said it does not want neighboring Ukraine to join NATO, the transatlantic alliance created at the start of the Cold War to protect Europe from the Soviet Union.

In recent years, the alliance has expanded ever further east to encompass former Soviet bloc countries, infuriating the Kremlin.

These developments come after both sides accused each other of disrupting humanitarian corridors.

Western countries, on the other hand, allowed their citizens to take part in the hostilities in Ukraine.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, civilian evacuations took place, including from the city of Sumy. In addition, evacuations also took place outside the capital Kiev.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed his intention to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday.

The humanitarian situation in besieged towns across the country worsened, including in Mariupol, where bodies lay in the streets and hopes for a mass evacuation of civilians were again dashed.

Two million people, half of them children, have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks since Russia invaded the country, officials said on Tuesday, amid Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War is getting worse day by day.

A Ukrainian military official said the country needs air defense systems first and foremost. Satellite photos from Planet Labs PBC show a buildup of suspected Belarusian and Russian helicopters at Machulishchy Air Base outside Minsk, Belarus on Tuesday. And analysts believe the flooding north of Kiev seen in satellite photos is likely coming from Ukrainian forces trying to halt the Russian advance.