Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have claimed they are largely in control of Mariupol's centre as Kiev announced the establishment of 10 humanitarian corridors from particularly contested areas in the east of the country.
Citizens will be able to leave the city of Mariupol by car to the city of Zaporizhzhya, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Facebook.
Separatists, however, said they have made gains in the embattled port city with the support of Russian troops.
"We can say that the main battle in the central part of the city has ended," spokesperson for the pro-Russian forces in the Donetsk region Eduard Basurin told Russian state television on Thursday morning.
The Ukrainian side did not confirm Basurin's account, however. "Mariupol is holding its ground," Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.
The city administration, which has fled, believes that tens of thousands of civilians have already been killed in the battle for the city, with attempts to evacuate the remaining civilian population repeatedly failing.
Civilians killed in Bucha
In Bucha, near Kiev, about 90% of the civilians killed had bullet wounds, Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told Deutsche Welle on Thursday.
Last week, hundreds of civilian bodies were found in the town after Russian troops withdrew. As of Wednesday evening, 320 bodies had been discovered in Bucha and were being examined by specialists.
"But the number of bodies discovered is increasing every day," Fedoruk said. "Because they are found in private properties, in parks and in places where it was possible to bury the bodies when there was no shelling."
Fedoruk said that he had witnessed the killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian soldiers first hand, and said that at one checkpoint Russian soldiers opened fire on several cars, killing a pregnant woman and two children.
Meanwhile, shelling continued in the small town of Popasna in eastern Ukraine's Luhansk region, the Ukrainian military said in its Thursday morning report, adding that the shelling came ahead of planned Russian offensives on the Luhansk region cities of Rubizhne and Nizhny.
The Ukrainian military also said that Russian troops had "unsuccessfully" attempted to break through Ukrainian defence lines in the village of Novotoshkivske, also in the Luhansk region.
Further violence was being perpetrated against civilians, with Russian troops carrying out the "forced resettlement" of Mariupol's population to Russian-occupied parts of the Donetsk region, according to the report.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and has been struggling to make major gains in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance. Moscow is now moving troops to the east of the country as it refocuses its offensive.