The Russian Ministry of Defense has promised ceasefire near the Azovstal steel factory in besieged Mariupol in order to allow residents to flee “in any direction they choose.”

“The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the formations of the Donetsk People’s Republic from 14:00 (Moscow time) on April 25, 2022 unilaterally cease any hostilities, units are withdrawn to a safe distance and ensure the withdrawal of the specified category of citizens in any directions they choose,” the statement said.

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The statement, issued on behalf of Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian Federation Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response, also claimed that a “permanently operating round-the-clock humanitarian corridor” would be open for the evacuation of civilian plant workers, women, and children.

According to Ukrainian officials, Russia has repeatedly breached promises to enable civilians safe transit from Azovstal. US and Ukrainian officials have also claimed that Russian soldiers drove residents fleeing Mariupol into separatist-held territory and then into Russia itself.

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Ukrainian troops bunker down in the massive plant had already rebuffed Russia’s calls to surrender and released videos of women and children hiding in the facility’s basement.

Ukrainian troops, according to Mizintsev, should show their willingness to accept the truce by raising white flags across the Azovstal plant’s perimeter.

According to the statement, the ceasefire offer will also be disseminated to Ukrainian military via local radio channels at 30-minute intervals.

According to the statement, “The Russian Federation publicly and officially declares that there are no obstacles to the exit of civilians from Azovstal.”

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Last week, the CEO of the firm that operates Azovstal told CNN that the situation was “close to a catastrophe,” with families running out of water, food, and essential supplies.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated there was no need for his military to raid the Azovstal complex, but he did order a blockade “such that a fly cannot get through.” He went on to say that Russia would provide the surviving Ukrainian defenders the chance to lay down their arms.