MOSCOW, Mar. 1 (TASS) – Ukrainian troops are hampering the establishment of humanitarian corridors for civilians leaving Mariupol, Denis Pushilin, leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said on Tuesday.

"Today’s task was to encircle Mariupol and fighting continues on the approaches to the city. The situation is difficult. Nationalist battalions are using civilians as a human shield to hamper our attempts at establishing humanitarian corridors, not letting people leave the city," he said in an interview with Russia’s TV Channel One. "I should say that there are a lot of even international appeals to help leave Mariupol, but, regrettably, it will be very problematic to ensure security unless the situation is fully under our control."

According to Pushilin, the liberation operation continues, with 32 settlements in Donbass already being liberated.