On Monday, Russia promised additional "humanitarian corridors" to transport Ukrainians caught in its crossfire to Russia and its partner Belarus, a move that Kyiv quickly denounced as an immoral charade.
The declaration came after two days of failed ceasefires in Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of residents are stuck without food or water, under constant bombing, and unable to remove their wounded.
According to Russia's defence ministry, the new "corridors" will open at 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT) from Kyiv, the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Sumy, as well as Mariupol.
According to RIA news agency maps, the Kyiv-Belarus corridor would lead to Belarus, while civilians from Kharkiv would only be allowed to travel to Russia. According to the ministry, Russia will also organise an airlift to transport Ukrainians from Kyiv to Russia.
"Attempts by the Ukrainian side to fool Russia and the rest of the civilised world are futile at this moment," the ministry added.
Russia was attempting to "exploit people's pain to create a television picture," according to a spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who termed the move "absolutely reprehensible."
"They are Ukrainian nationals, and they should have the right to flee to Ukrainian land," the spokeswoman told Reuters.
"One of the issues that is forcing the humanitarian corridors to collapse is this. They appear to accept them, but they want to provide humanitarian aid in exchange for a television appearance, and they want the corridors to lead in their direction."
Russia's invasion has been widely condemned around the world, and it has resulted in more than 1.5 million Ukrainians migrating to other countries, as well as sweeping sanctions that have isolated Russia in a way that no other significant economy has ever faced.
Russia denies striking civilians on purpose. It describes the campaign, which began on February 24, a "special military operation" aimed at disarming Ukraine and apprehending neo-Nazi leaders. Ukraine and its Western supporters claim that this is merely a pretext for an invasion to seize a 44-million people.