The Russian Ministry of Defense announced a temporary cessation of offensive actions Saturday March 5th, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Moscow time, in a decision apparently in agreement with the Ukrainian government:
From 1000 am Moscow time (0700 GMT), the Russian side declares a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave Mariupol and Volnovakha.
This comes after a second attempt at peace talks last Thursday in Belarus. The announcement from the Russian Ministry of Defense was reported by the RIA Novosti and Tass agencies, but was not immediately confirmed by Ukrainian authorities, although the need for humanitarian corridors had been expressed by Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s security council. Danilov referred to this as a priority.
The move is meant to allow residents of Mariupol, a southeastern port city on the Azov Sea, to evacuate, with a similar arrangement also being prepared for Volnovakha, a nearby urban center. The Russian government has recognized Mariupol as part of an independent Donetsk Republic.
For his part, the city’s mayor, Vadim Boychenko, referred to the ceasefire as an opportunity to restore basic utilities and distribute food.
Sky News reported that, as of 3:00 pm on Saturday, Russia had failed to observe one of the two agreed-upon ceasefires, according to local authorities. According to the report:
Mariupol’s council says it is negotiating with the invading forces to ensure a halt in hostilities along the entire length of the humanitarian corridor out of the port city. … A blog apparently run by Mariupol City Council has warned: “The evacuation of the population is postponed!!” We ask all Mariupol residents to disperse and follow to the places of shelters.” It said police would patrol with loud speakers to keep people informed, and it added: “Mariupol residents, hold on!”