A senior Russian diplomat said on Monday that there was no point in having a ceasefire in Ukraine at this stage because Kyiv was likely to use it as an opportunity to try to discredit Russia, after Kyiv denied reaching an agreement with Moscow over a humanitarian corridor.
"Ukraine is undermining our efforts to open humanitarian corridors so we don't think a ceasefire is a good option now," RIA quoted Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, as saying.
Ukraine earlier denied reaching a deal with Russia on evacuating civilians from a steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol, and said the United Nations should be the "initiator and guarantor" of any such deal.
Polyanskiy said a ceasefire would only "be an opportunity for Ukrainian forces to regroup and stage more provocations."
He said Russia had not struck any residential areas in Ukraine's Black Sea port city of Odesa. Ukraine's southern air command on Saturday said that two missiles struck a military facility and two residential buildings in Odesa.
Polyanskiy did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Russia had said earlier on Monday that it would open a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave Mariupol's huge Azovstal steel plant, where they are holed up with Ukrainian fighters and are under Russian fire.
"Today, the Russian side once again announced the existence of a corridor for civilians to leave Azovstal. This could be believed if the Russians had not destroyed humanitarian corridors many times before," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Russia and diplomats
Russia's foreign ministry said on Monday that it had declared 40 German diplomatic staff "personae non gratae" in a retaliatory move after Berlin expelled the same number of Russian diplomats.
In a statement, Russia's foreign ministry said it had taken the decision after Germany on April 4 declared a "significant number" of officials at the Russian embassy in Berlin "undesirable."
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the expelled Russians had never actually done any diplomacy during their time in Germany, but rather "systematically worked against our freedom and the cohesion of our society."
The expelled German diplomats by contrast had worked hard on bilateral relations despite difficult circumstances, she said in a statement, adding that the news had been expected.
"Russia is therefore harming itself with today's expulsions," she said.
Germany was one of several European countries to expel Russian diplomats after reports of mass graves being found and of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha during the Russian occupation.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a "special operation" to degrade its military capabilities and root out what it calls dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.
Also Monday, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Washington's ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan discussed bilateral issues at a meeting, Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.