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Attempted Cease Fire in Ukraine Fails Amid Russian Shelling

Attempted Cease Fire in Ukraine Fails Amid Russian Shelling

Ten days after Russian forces invaded, the struggle to enforce a temporary cease-fire in Mariupol and the eastern city of Volnovakha showed the fragility of efforts to stop the fighting across Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held out the possibility that talks with Russia could result in a sustained, if unfortunately limited, ceasefire on Saturday. Elsewhere in the country, Ukrainian forces were holding key cities in central and southeastern Ukraine. But Russian artillery fire and airstrikes had prevented residents from leaving before the agreed-to evacuations got underway. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of “sabotaging” the effort and warned Saturday that Ukrainian statehood is “in jeopardy.”

As a result of Putin’s invasion, the number of Ukrainians forced from their country has grown to 1.4 million, but the Russian dictator continued to pin the blame for all of it squarely on the Ukrainian leadership and slammed their resistance to the invasion. “If they continue to do what they are doing, they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood,” Putin threatened. “And if this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience.”

Putin also commented on the West’s sanctions on Russia, particularly the ones President Joe Biden has specifically directed at Putin and his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov. “These sanctions that are being imposed, they are akin to declaring war,” he said during a televised meeting with flight attendants from Russian airline Aeroflot. “But thank God, we haven’t got there yet.”

The Russian defense ministry had said earlier that it agreed with Ukraine on evacuation routes out of the two cities. Before the announcement, Russia’s days-long assault had caused growing misery in Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of people faced food and water shortages in freezing weather.

Diplomatic efforts continued as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Poland to meet with the prime minister and foreign minister, a day after attending a NATO meeting in Brussels in which the alliance pledged to step up support for eastern flank members.

[This is a continuing and developing situation, please check back for updates]

 

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