- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

DPR Head: Up to 200 People Buried Under Rubble as Azov Militants Blow Up Building in Mariupol

© Sputnik / Alexandr Maksimenko / Go to the mediabankAzov battalion soldiers take oath in Kiev before being sent to Donbass
Azov battalion soldiers take oath in Kiev before being sent to Donbass - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.03.2022
This comes just minutes before the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol was about to begin in accordance with an agreement reached between Moscow and Kiev during talks earlier this week.
Ukrainian militants from the "Azov" battalion set off an earlier planted explosive device causing the building at 15/20 Meotida Boulevard in Mariupol to collapse. The latter has resulted in up to 200 people, including children who were hiding in the basement, being buried under the rubble, the head of the Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin said.
"The Mariupol administration has declared a corridor towards Zaporozhye...According to our information, it is extremely unsafe there. So it is extremely problematic for us to bear responsibility because nationalist battalions are there and provocations have already been committed. Just a few minutes ago, the Azov militants activated explosive devices set up earlier, which has resulted in the collapse of the house at 15/20 Meotida Boulevard. Up to 200 people remained in the basement at the time, mostly women and children. Therefore, it is extremely problematic for us to bear responsibility for that corridor", Pushilin said.
He added that DPR's authorities are currently collecting information, including with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, about casualties after the explosion in Mariupol.
Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry announced a ceasefire starting from 07:00 GMT to let civilians evacuate from Mariupol and Volnovakha. Up to 200,000 people were expected to be evacuated from Mariupol after 12:00 local time, according to Ukraine's deputy prime minister.
"We have been waiting for a message from the International Red Cross Committee. Today, on March 5, we agreed on the establishment of the humanitarian corridor from 09:00 Ukrainian time (07:00 GMT) in two directions: Mariupol and Volnovakha...As of now, routes will be operated in the following directions: Mariupol, Nikolskoye, Rozovka, Bilmak, Pologi, Orekhov, Zaporozhye. This is the first direction. We are planning to evacuate about 200,000 people. The next direction is Volnovakha, Valeryanovka, Novoandreevka, Kyrylovka, Pokrovsk, Zaporozhye. Through here, we are planning to evacuate over 15,000 people," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minster Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video address.
Meanwhile, the DPR said that Ukrainian nationalists have been refusing to let Mariupol residents use the evacuation corridor.
In 2014, Mariupol with a 450,000-strong population used to be the second-largest city in the DPR after Donetsk. In June of this year, the Ukrainian troops took control over the city, with its eastern suburbs on the Azov Sea coast becoming one of the hottest conflict areas. On 28 February, DPR people's militia spokesman Eduard Basurin said that the republic’s forces would block Mariupol but the issue of its liberation would be solved through the negotiation process.
The humanitarian corridors and exit routes were agreed upon with Kiev following the second round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus earlier this week.
Russia has repeatedly emphasised that Ukrainian nationalists have been preventing civilians, including women and children, as well as foreign citizens, from leaving the areas affected by the fighting and have been using them as human shields.
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