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MOSCOW: Russia’s defence ministry on Monday announced a ceasefire around the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to allow a civilian evacuation from the industrial area that has been sheltering the remaining Ukrainian resistance in the port city.

Russian troops “from 14:00 Moscow time (1100 GMT) on April 25, 2022, will unilaterally stop any hostilities, withdraw units to a safe distance and ensure the withdrawal of” civilians, the defence ministry said in a statement.

It said the civilians will be taken “in any direction they have chosen”.

Ukraine negotiator says Russia continuously shelling Mariupol, urges ‘real Easter truce’

It added that the Ukrainian side should show “readiness” to start the humanitarian evacuations “by raising white flags” at Azovstal.

According to the ministry, this information will be communicated to those inside Azovstal “via radio channels” every 30 minutes.

Russia last week said it had gained full control of the strategic eastern Ukrainian city, except for its huge Azovstal industrial area.

Putin says Kyiv refusing to allow Mariupol troops to surrender

President Vladimir Putin ordered a blockade of the steelworks, where hundreds of civilians are reportedly sheltering with Ukrainian troops.

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