Attempts to reach an agreement on the evacuation of civilians besieged at the Mariupol Azovstal metallurgical plant again failed on Monday. Russia had announced it would open a humanitarian corridor, but Ukrainian authorities said they did not trust the security conditions guaranteed by Moscow.
Russia’s defense ministry has announced a ceasefire around a huge industrial complex, which is now the last bubble of resistance by Ukrainian forces against the occupation of the port city of Mariupol in the Azov Sea. According to Kiev, Azovstal has about 1,000 people, including civilians and parts of the Azov Battalion, a former neo-Nazi paramilitary militia that joined the Ukrainian army.
However, the Kiev government said it had not reached an agreement and accused Russia of unilateral decisions. “A unilaterally declared corridor does not guarantee security and therefore cannot be considered a humanitarian corridor,” Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said. Ukraine has accused the Russian authorities of forcibly deporting Ukrainian citizens, while Moscow says these actions are humanitarian.
According to Ukrainian train services, Russia bombed five railway stations in the country within an hour. Five were killed in the attacks on the west and center of the country. The bombing of these infrastructures is aimed at trying to stop arms supplies from other countries that have pledged to send more military support to Ukraine.
Despite the fact that Russian forces have set control of the Donbass in the Far East of Ukraine as their main goal, they have continued to bomb other parts of the country.
Authorities in Transnistria, a region ruled by pro-Russian separatists in Moldova, revealed that the grenades targeted a government building. Pictures of the building of the local security office of the city of Tiraspol showed that smoke was coming from the broken windows. No injuries or deaths were reported.
Local authorities did not disclose the source of the attack, but the incident fueled fears of a spread of the conflict in Ukraine to other countries. Last week, a Russian general said that one of the Kremlin’s goals in Ukraine’s invasion is to guarantee ground access to Transnistria, which means occupying the entire Black Sea coast, including the city of Odessa.
Although Transnistria is within Moldova’s internationally recognized borders, it has been ruled by a Moscow-backed separatist government since the early 1990s, which also has thousands of troops permanently present. Kiev fears that this area could serve as a base for attacks on other parts of the country.
The British government estimates that nearly 15,000 Russian soldiers have died since the attack began and more than 2,000 armored vehicles have been destroyed or imprisoned. The figures revealed by Defense Minister Ben Wallace at a parliamentary hearing are lower than estimates by Ukraine, which lost more than 20,000 Russian soldiers.
Russia, like Ukraine, has not released its casualty figures, but just a few weeks ago Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted “a significant number of casualties” among the Russians.