By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Russia’s defence ministry announced a partial ceasefire on Saturday, to allow residents of two besieged cities, including the strategic port city of Mariupol, to evacuate.
“Today, March 5, from 10am Moscow time, the Russian side declares a regime of silence and opens humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha,” it said.
The announcement comes after Mariupol’s mayor, Vadim Boychenko, said that the city was under “blockade” by Russian forces after days of “ruthless” attacks.
While laying siege to Mariupol for days, Russian forces have cut its electricity, food, water, heating and transportation in the depths of winter, prompting comparisons to the Nazi blockade of Leningrad in World War II.
“For now, we are looking for solutions to humanitarian problems and all possible ways to get Mariupol out of the blockade,” said Boychenko, calling for a ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor for food and medicine.
Since President Vladimir Putin’s army invaded on February 24, Russia has pummelled Ukrainian cities, killed hundreds of civilians and assaulted Europe’s largest atomic power plant.
The invasion has drawn condemnation and severe sanctions from Western nations balancing punishment of the Kremlin with fears of a hazardous escalation.
Samsung Electronics suspends shipments to Russia
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics has suspended shipments to Russia over “geopolitical developments,” the firm said on Saturday, as major firms including Apple cut ties with the country over its invasion of Ukraine.
The South Korean tech giant is the world’s biggest memory chip maker and the leading smartphone seller in Russia.
“Due to current geopolitical developments, shipments to Russia have been suspended.
“We continue to actively monitor this complex situation to determine our next steps,” Samsung said in a statement.
The decision comes as Western governments, sporting organisations and big companies cut Russia off and deal it punishing sanctions over the internationally condemned attack on its neighbor.
Samsung controls just above 30 per cent of the smartphone market share in Russia, according to Bloomberg News — four per cent of the tech giant’s total global smartphone revenues.
Sales of semiconductors in Russia, in turn, accounted for less than 0.1 percent of Samsung Electronics’ profits, according to a report by Hana Financial Investment.
South Korea, a key US security ally, also this week announced it would block financial transactions with major Russian banks and their subsidiaries subject to US sanctions.
Samsung is also donating $6 million, including $1 million in consumer electronics as well as voluntary donations from employees, to “actively support humanitarian efforts” and refugees in the region, the firm added.