A five-hour partial truce by Russian forces outside the Ukrainian city of Mariupol today will allow people to flee the city. Between 12 and 5 p.m. Moscow time, civilians will be able to leave Mariupol.
According to Interfax, Russian soldiers would cease firing at 1000 Moscow time to allow humanitarian routes out of the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.
During the siege of Mariupol, Russian soldiers cut off the city's electricity, food, water, heating, and transportation in the dead of winter, drawing similarities to the Nazi blockade of Leningrad during WWII.
For the time being, we're exploring for humanitarian solutions as well as any other viable measures to get Mariupol out of the blockade," stated mayor Vadim Boychenko. He demanded a cease-fire and the creation of a humanitarian corridor for food and medication.
Since Putin's army entered Ukraine on February 24, it has pounded Ukrainian cities, killed hundreds of civilians, and attacked Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
Western governments have condemned the invasion and imposed harsh penalties, balancing punishment of the Kremlin with fears of a dangerous escalation. Berdiansk and Kherson, both on Ukraine's southern Black Sea coast, have been overrun by Moscow during its 10-day incursion.
Capturing Mariupol, a port city on the Azov Sea with a population of around 450,000 people, would be a bigger prize for Russian forces because it would cut off Ukraine's sea access and unite troops from occupied Crimea and the Donbas.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said Moscow was looking forward to a third round of negotiations with Ukraine in Belarus, which one of Kyiv's negotiators claimed will take place this weekend.
Today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to make a formal request for additional aid from the United States. He'll speak in front of the US Senate, where some members have pressed President Joe Biden to take harder actions, such as barring Russia's oil imports.
According to local officials, Russian forces bombarded residential areas, including schools and a high-rise apartment building, in the northern city of Chernihiv on Thursday, killing 47 people.
"We are confronted together with President Putin's war of choice, which is unprovoked, unjustified, and has awful, horrific repercussions," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels.