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Russia announces ceasefire around Mariupol plant for evacuation

The situation in Ukraine on day 61 of the war/ courtesy Sky News

The Russian defence ministry on Monday announced a ceasefire around the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's Mariupol city to allow the evacuation of civilians from the area.

Stating on Monday, the defence ministry said, "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," adding those stranded will be taken in any direction that they have chosen, news agency AFP reported.

The ministry also said that Kyiv should show readiness to begin the evacuation efforts by raising white flags at the steel plant. This information will be communicated to those inside Azovstal "via radio channels" every half hour, it further said.

Earlier, five railway stations have come under attack in central and western Ukraine, according to officials.

There are reports of casualties after stations in Zhmerynka and Kozyatyn in central Ukraine were hit.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russia is trying to brutalise parts of Ukraine but failing in its war aims.

He was speaking after meeting President Zelensky in Kyiv on Sunday - the highest-level US visit since Russia's invasion began.

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