No agreement on a corridor had been reached with Russia for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Monday.
"Today, the Russian side once again announced the existence of a corridor for civilians to leave Azovstal," she said in a statement on Telegram. "This could be believed if the Russians had not broken the humanitarian corridors many times before. I know what I am saying because, on behalf of the president, I am personally conducting such negotiations and organizing humanitarian corridors. It is important to understand that the humanitarian corridor is opened by agreement of both sides. The corridor, announced unilaterally, does not provide security, and therefore, in fact, is not a humanitarian corridor."
"So, I declare officially and publicly: unfortunately, there are no agreements on humanitarian corridors from Azovstal today," Vereshchuk added.
Russia’s Ministry of Defence issued a statement Monday offering to cease all hostilities around the Azovstal plant, a sprawling facility where Ukrainian forces are still holding out, to allow civilians to leave “in any direction they choose.”
Vereshchuk said the Ukrainian side had asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to initiate and and guarantee an evacuation corridor for civilians from Azovstal. Guterres is slated to meet separately with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"In particular, we ask that representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross be present in the humanitarian column," Vereshchuk said. "We hope for the effectiveness of the UN Secretary General's talks with Russian representatives."