On Wednesday, Russia said it offered Ukrainian fighters hiding in the Azot chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian town of Severodonetsk the opportunity to surrender.
In recent weeks, both the town and the Azot plant have become flashpoints of the conflict, with hundreds of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers holed up in the factory under intense shelling from Russian forces attempting to capture the town, according to local authorities.
On Tuesday, Russia said it would open a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to flee on Wednesday, and urged Ukrainian fighters to “stop their senseless resistance and lay down their arms” at the same time.
“Guided by the principles of humanity, the Russian armed forces and the formations of the Luhansk People’s Republic are ready to organise a humanitarian operation to evacuate civilians,” the Russian defence ministry said.
The humanitarian corridor will be in place between 8am (05:00 GMT) and 8pm Moscow time Wednesday, the defence ministry said, adding the evacuees would be transported to the city of Svatovo in the separatist-held region of Luhansk.
All the bridges over the Siverskyi Donets river linking Severodonetsk to Ukrainian-held territory have been destroyed.