Ukraine is asking the United Nations to oversee an evacuation route for trapped civilians in Mariupol. The Russian military announced Monday that it will open a route for up to 1,000 people trapped in the port city’s steel plant. But Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Russia has breached such agreements on humanitarian corridors before and that Ukraine has not agreed to this latest proposal.
More than 100,000 people are believed to remain under siege in Mariupol with very little food, water, or heat. The city’s population before the war was around 430,000, and Ukrainian authorities estimate more than 20,000 civilians have been killed. As CBN News reported, satellite images showed what appeared to be mass graves near Mariupol.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to visit both Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv this week in a bid for peace.
Late Sunday, the U.S. sent its secretaries of state and defense to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy, the highest-level American delegation to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. has approved a $165M ammunition sale to Ukraine plus $300M in military financing.
Zelenskyy called the talks “encouraging” and “effective.” Early Monday, Russia hit back, striking five rail facilities in central and western Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities say other strikes in the central Vynnytsia region killed at least five people.
Over the weekend, Russian cruise missiles killed at least eight in a strike on the port city of Odessa.
Still, Secretary Blinken said Monday that Russia is failing in its war efforts and Ukraine is succeeding after Russia abandoned its attempt to directly take over Kyiv. Speaking in Poland to reporters, he noted that Russian troops have now pulled out of the Kyiv region and the northern part of Ukraine to focus on the eastern Donbas region.
The U.S. has announced it is sending its diplomats back to Ukraine. They will initially re-staff the consulate in Lviv near the border with Poland and then return to Kyiv.
All this as Ukrainians marked Orthodox Easter on Sunday with residents in Kyiv praying for those on the front lines and others trapped in places like Mariupol. Even in that city, Orthodox Christians celebrated, as smoke rose in the distance from the steel plant where thousands are trapped.
In Budapest and elsewhere across eastern Europe, Ukrainian refugees marked the holiday with prayers for their homeland as many hope and pray they can return home themselves.