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Russia opens humanitarian corridor for civilians in Mariupol at Turkiye’s initiative

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MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - MARCH 20: Military personnel are seen as civilians being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol besieged by Russian military and rebel forces, on March 20, 2022. Over 3.48 million Ukrainians fled to the neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency. (Stringer - Anadolu Agency)
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Apr 04, 2022 - 05:50 AM

MOSCOW (AA) – At the initiative of Turkiye, Russia will open new humanitarian corridors beginning early Monday for civilians to be evacuated from Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol.

Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, said Sunday that his country is conducting systematic and coordinated work on the issue of evacuations of civilians and foreign citizens from conflict zones.

He said Russia opens humanitarian corridors in the Kharkiv and Mariupol directions every day from 10.00 a.m. Moscow time (0700GMT).

Claiming that the Ukrainian side announced that it had opened seven corridors in the Zaporizhia and Donetsk directions during the day but none of these corridors were on the Russian side, Mizintsez said the Russian side has complied with the cease-fire on all routes, including those announced by Ukraine.

Additionally, Russia welcomes all positive humanitarian initiatives from foreign states and international organizations and responds quickly, he said.

He stressed that the Russian side has provided all the necessary conditions for the evacuation of civilians and foreign citizens from Mariupol to the city of Berdyansk at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on March 31 and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 3 to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“In accordance with the request of the President of the Republic of Turkiye to the President of the Russian Federation (Vladimir Vladimirovich) Putin, the decision was made to provide full assistance in the evacuation of foreign citizens held hostage by the remaining militants of nationalist battalions in certain areas of Mariupol,” he said.

He also emphasized that what is necessary has been done for the directions to Crimea or Zaporizhia and for selected sea routes.

Despite this, Mizintsev argued that the Ukrainian side interrupted the humanitarian aid operation prepared in these directions with armed attacks, asserting that the humanitarian aid operation launched by the Turkish, French and German administrations, fully supported by Russia, was rudely ignored by the Kyiv administration.

Port of Berdyansk to also be used for evacuations

Announcing that Russia, at the initiative of Turkiye, will reopen a humanitarian corridor for the rescue of civilians and foreign citizens from Mariupol as of 6.00 pm on April 4, Mizintsev also said he is ready to ensure the entry and exit of ships involved in the evacuation to the port of Berdyansk in accordance with the norms of international maritime law.

Noting that the success of this humanitarian operation depends only on the Ukrainian side, he stressed that the armed forces of the nationalist formations in the region are constantly bombing the humanitarian corridors declared due to the fact that “they are not actually connected to Kyiv.”

“For that purpose, we are continuously cooperating with the United Nations, the OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organizations,” he said.

Complaining that the Kyiv administration has not met its obligations on the issue of the civilian evacuations, Mizintsev stated: “We rely on the support of our Turkish colleagues to ensure that the Ukrainian authorities fully fulfill their obligations to ensure a cease-fire during the operation to create a humanitarian corridor and evacuate citizens in the direction of Mariupol.”

The Russian war against Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage, with the European Union, US and UK among others implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,417 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,038 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.

More than 4.1 million Ukrainians have also fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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