UPDATED: Russia and Ukraine blame each other as Mariupol evacuation fails again

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LVIV, Ukraine March 6 (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine’s National Guard accused each other of failing to establish a humanitarian corridor out of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Sunday, the second time the sides have attempted to arrange it.

Ukraine 24 television showed a fighter of the Azov Regiment of the National Guard who said Russian and pro-Russian forces that have encircled the port city of about 400,000 continued shelling the areas that were meant to be safe.

The Interfax news agency cited an official of the Donetsk separatist administration who accused the Ukrainian forces of failing to observe the limited ceasefire.

The separatist official said only about 300 people have left the city. Ukrainian authorities have earlier said they planned to evacuate over 200,000 people from Mariupol.

  •  Russia is mustering forces to encircle the Ukrainian city of Dnipro and is turning its main attention to cutting Ukraine off from the Black Sea, Ukraine’s top security official Oleksiy Danilov wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Russia still intended to try to capture Kyiv, he said.

Separately, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said Ukraine was expecting 639 million euros from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support the economy during the Russian invasion.

  • The city council of Ukraine’s Mariupol said an evacuation of some of 400,000 residents trapped by encircling Russian forces would start at 12:00 p.m. local time (1000 GMT) on Sunday under a temporary ceasefire that will last till 9:00 p.m..

A similar plan had to be abandoned on Saturday after the ceasefire was not fully observed, with both sides trading blame.

  • Russia struck and disabled Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv military air base with long-range high-precision weapons, Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday.

“The Russia armed forces continue to strike the military infrastructure of Ukraine,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“On the morning of March 6, strikes were carried out by high-precision long-range weapons. The Ukrainian air force base near Starokostiantyniv was disabled.”

He said a Ukrainian-controlled S-300 missile system had also been destroyed by Russian rocket forces. He said Russia had downed 10 Ukrainian planes and helicopters over the past 24 hours.

Photo – A handout photo made available by Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.

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