Evacuations halted as Ukraine accuses Russia of continued shelling
A ceasefire was planned in the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and in Volnovakha on Saturday morning to allow for humanitarian evacuations. But life-saving efforts faltered when it was reported that Russian shelling continued.
“The Russian side is violating the ceasefire and continues to fire at Mariupol itself and its surroundings,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Meanwhile, Russian media outlet RIA Novosti circulated a claim by the Russian Defense Ministry that the shot was aimed at Russian positions.
Later on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Ukrainian statehood was under threat. And he likened Western sanctions against Russia to a “declaration of war.”
“But thank God we’re not there yet,” Putin said at a meeting with flight attendants.
He also said that if a third party issued a no-fly zone over Ukraine, Moscow would consider it “participating in the armed conflict.” On Friday, NATO decided against a no-fly zone so as not to risk a direct confrontation with Russia.
in oneTo US lawmakers on Saturday, Zelensky made an impassioned plea for help, calling for military planes and support and an embargo on Russian oil. More than a million people have fled the country from the fighting and thousands have reportedly died.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.