Ukraine dismissed Moscow’s offer to set up humanitarian corridors from several bombarded cities on Monday after it emerged some routes would lead refugees into Russia or Belarus.
The Russian proposal of safe passage from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy had come after terrified Ukrainian civilians came under fire in previous ceasefire attempts.
Russia unleashed another night of relentless attacks from air, land and sea, compounding the humanitarian disaster that has pushed more than 1.5 million people across Ukraine’s borders.
International sanctions intended to punish Moscow have so far done little to slow the invasion, and Washington said it was now discussing a ban on Russian oil imports with Europe.
Oil prices soared to near a 14-year high, and gas prices rocketed on the developments while stock markets plunged as investors worried about the fallout on the global economy.
Horrifying scenes at the weekend saw Ukrainian civilians being cut down as they tried to flee various cities, adding to the international outrage.
But several 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.
The civilians “aren’t going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia”.
Moscow had said the decision was taken after a “personal request” by French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Sunday.
Macron’s office however denied there had been such a request.