LVIV, Ukraine - Russia announced a new ceasefire and a handful of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee Ukraine starting Monday, but previous measures crumbled and forces in Moscow continued to bombard some Ukrainian cities with rockets even after the announcement.
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A day earlier, hundreds of thousands of civilians trying to flee to safety were forced into hiding from what Ukrainian officials described as Russian shelling of central, northern and southern cities.
Ahead of a third round of talks scheduled for Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said a ceasefire would begin in the morning and safe passages would be opened for civilians from the capital Kiev, the southern port city of Mariupol and the cities of Kharkiv and Sumy. However, some of the escape routes would take civilians to Russia or its ally Belarus - unlikely destinations for many Ukrainians who would prefer to reach countries on the western and southern borders.
It was not immediately clear if the fighting would stop beyond the designated areas or when the truce would end. Hopes were dim that the latest round of talks would lead to breakthroughs.
Well into the second week of the war, Russia's plan to quickly invade the country was hampered by fierce resistance. Their troops have made significant progress in southern Ukraine and along the coast, but many of their efforts have stalled, including a huge military convoy that has stood almost motionless north of Kiev for days. .
The fighting has driven up global energy prices, eroded supplies and threatens the food and livelihoods of people around the world who depend on farmland in the Black Sea region.
The death toll from the fighting remains uncertain. The UN says it has only confirmed a few hundred civilian deaths, but also warned the number was grossly underestimated. Police in the Kharkiv region said on Monday that 209 people had died there, including 133 civilians.
The Russian invasion also forced 1.5 million people to flee the country, creating what the head of the UN refugee agency called "Europe's fastest growing refugee crisis since the Second World War".
But many more are trapped in bombed cities. Food, water, medicine and almost all other supplies were desperately short in the southern port city of Mariupol, from where around 200,000 people are trying to flee where a previous ceasefire has failed. Russia and Ukraine shared responsibility for the failure.
A Ukrainian woman in military uniform prays at the Church of St. Peter and Paul in the garrison in Lviv, western Ukraine, on Sunday.
The Russian task force said the new promise of humanitarian corridors was announced at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday. Macron's office said it had called for a broader end to military operations in Ukraine and the protection of civilians.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk called the proposed evacuation routes to Russia and Belarus "unacceptable". Belarus is a key Putin ally and served as a launching pad for the invasion.
The Ukrainian government is proposing eight humanitarian corridors, including from Mariupol, which would allow civilians to reach western regions of Ukraine where there is no Russian bombardment.
"Providing escape routes into the arms of the country that is destroying yours is nonsense," said Britain's Europe Secretary James Cleverly.
The Russian proposal was reminiscent of similar proposals in Syria. In 2016, a joint Russian and Syrian proposal to set up humanitarian corridors out of besieged and opposition-held eastern Aleppo was heavily criticized on humanitarian grounds. Human rights activists said the tactic, combined with brutal sieges, effectively gave residents the choice of fleeing into the arms of their attackers or dying in the shelling.
Meanwhile, Russian forces continued their offensive and opened fire on the town of Mykolaiv, 480 kilometers (300 miles) south of the capital, according to the Ukrainian general.