(CN) — Ukraine descended into further mayhem and chaos on Saturday as efforts to bring relief to the millions of people trapped in the war appeared to break down amid renewed fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Late on Friday, Russian and Ukrainian delegations agreed to a tentative ceasefire and said it was time to open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians stuck in besieged cities a chance to flee the war.
But hopes for large-scale relief efforts broke down Saturday as Ukraine accused Russia of violating the ceasefire terms and continuing to bomb Ukrainian cities and even fire upon civilians trying to flee through humanitarian corridors.
Russia denied such claims and accused an increasingly desperate Ukrainian army of seeking to cause panic and spur international condemnation of Russia by shelling evacuation routes out of cities encircled by Russian forces. Claims from both sides could not be independently confirmed.
The prospects for a ceasefire were further damaged by reports that a member of Ukraine's five-person team of peace negotiators was killed by Ukrainian forces for allegedly being a traitor.
Russian and Ukrainian news outlets reported that Denis Kireev was killed by the Security Service of Ukraine on “suspicion of treason.” He was among a group of top Ukrainian officials sent by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to sit down with Russian delegates to discuss ways to end the conflict. Images on social media showed he’d been shot and his body left on a street.
Kireev’s death comes a day after media reported that the purportedly pro-Russian mayor of Kreminna, Vlodymyr Struk, was found shot dead in the street after he was kidnapped from his home. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry condoned the killing, accusing him of working with Russia.
In the last few days as the Russian invasion has grown in scale, Ukrainian forces have been accused of carrying out summary executions of so-called traitors in various parts of the country.
Russia has begun to encircle the large and strategically key cities of Mariupol near the Black Sea in the south and Kharkiv in Ukraine’s northeast. Russian forces are making steady progress in efforts to seize eastern Ukraine.
Civilians in both Mariupol and Kharkiv are suffering tremendous deprivation after days of brutal fighting. Diplomats from Russia and Ukraine agreed Friday to open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave the cities, but continued fighting has jeopardized relief efforts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine is in its 10th day and shows no sign of letting up as Russian forces make advances across eastern Ukraine and begin to concentrate their attack on Kyiv, the capital.
On Saturday night, there were reports that Russian bombing was resuming in parts of eastern Ukraine and Kyiv after a day of relative calm. There were reports that the attack on Kyiv was becoming more intense.
A miles-long Russian military convoy heading toward Kyiv has been stalled for several days, in part due to logistical problems, according to Western military experts.
The United Nations is warning that an additional 1.5 million people are on their way out of Ukraine, adding to the more than 1 million people who have already left Ukraine, a country of 44 million inhabitants.
The war in Ukraine has upended world politics and posed a major risk that the United States and its NATO allies will be drawn into war with Russia.
Ukraine’s government is pleading for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukrainian territory but NATO has so far resisted such an action for fear of sparking a bigger war with Russia.