Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Moscow would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as “participation in the armed conflict”. Speaking at a meeting with female pilots on Saturday, Putin said Russia would view “any move in this direction” as an intervention that “will pose a threat to our service members”. “That very second, we will view them as participants of the military conflict, and it would not matter what members they are,” the Russian president said.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol said an evacuation of civilians planned for Saturday had been postponed as Russian forces encircling the city were not respecting an agreed ceasefire, news agency Reuters reported. In a statement, the city council asked residents to return to shelters in the city and wait for further information on evacuation. Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a televised broadcast that Russia is not observing an agreed ceasefire in certain areas, thwarting a joint plant to allow civilians to evacuate from frontline cities such as Mariupol.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern town of Volnovakha “from 10 a.m. Moscow time” (8 am GMT.) The vaguely worded statement did not make clear how long the routes would remain open. A top official in Mariupol told the Associated Press that the ceasefire there is to last until 4 p.m. (2 pm GMT) and an evacuation along a humanitarian corridor would begin at 11 a.m. (9 am GMT) Pavlo Kirilenko, head of the Donetsk military-civil administration that includes Mariupol, said the humanitarian corridor would extend from the city to Zaporizhzhia.
source: Indian Express