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Ukraine Rejects ‘Unacceptable’ Russian Evacuation Offer

KYIV(AFP/    –   Ukraine on Monday dismissed an offer from Moscow for humanitarian corridors that would lead refugees from bombarded cities into Russia and Belarus, as fresh talks got underway with slim hopes of ending the conflict. Violence raged on day 12 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the evacuation proposal and the start of the third round of negotiations between the two countries. The war has pushed more than 1.7 million people across Ukraine’s borders in what the United Nations calls Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II, and the EU warned that figure could eventually reach five million. International sanctions intended to punish Moscow have done little to slow the invasion, and Washington said it was now discussing a ban on Russian oil imports with Europe that pushed oil prices to a near 14-year high. As global pressure mounted over horrifying scenes of civilians cut down during failed ceasefires, Moscow’s defence ministry announced plans for humanitarian corridors and said a “regime of silence” had started at 0700 GMT. But Ukraine rejected the proposal for the cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy, as many of the routes led into Russia or its ally Belarus, raising questions over the safety of those who might use them. “This is not an acceptable option,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Russian president Vladimir Putin on Sunday, accused Putin of hypocrisy and cynicism over the offer.