Russia announces ceasefire in Mariupol on Monday to evacuate civilians from Azovstal

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Russia announced its intention to cease hostilities on Monday to allow the evacuation of refugee civilians with Ukrainian fighters in the besieged Azovstal metallurgical complex in Mariupol, in southeastern Ukraine.

Russian forces and their pro-Russian separatist allies in Ukraine commit to “unilaterally cease hostilities at 2:00 p.m. Moscow time (11:00 GMT),” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The Russian authorities also promised that civilians will be able to move “in the direction they choose”.

Meanwhile, the ministry insisted that Ukrainian forces must show their readiness to begin evacuations by “raising white flags” in Azovstal.

Russia last week claimed control of this strategic city, with the exception of the industrial complex where the last Ukrainian fighters were stationed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a blockade of the plant, where hundreds of civilians have taken refuge alongside Ukrainian fighters.

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