Pro-Russian separatists have carried out an offensive in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Sunday and fighting took place mostly in the western part of the city, Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday.
The ministry said Russian troops would suspend fire to open a humanitarian corridor out of the encircled city of 400,000 people on Monday.
Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov accused Ukrainian forces of using a group of more than 150 civilians as human shields to fire at the separatist forces.
He said four civilians had been killed and five wounded as a result, but that the forces from the Donetsk People’s Republic, part of eastern Ukraine recognised as independent by Moscow, had “liberated” around 150 civilians, taking them into territory they controlled.
Reuters was not able to verify the assertions independently.