Ukraine rejects cynical proposal to evacuate civilians to Russia and Belarus

Kyiv, Ucrania (CNN) — Ukrainians living in some attacked areas by Russian forces were faced with a cynical proposition on Monday: stay and risk being bombed, or leave their homes and head for Russia or Belarus.


Ukrainian officials rejected the Kremlin’s unilateral proposal to create humanitarian evacuation corridors for civilians as unacceptable. Most routes lead to Russia or its staunch ally Belarus and force the population through active combat zones.

A spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Moscow’s offer “completely immoral” and said Russia was trying to “use people’s suffering to create a television image,” Archyde.com reported.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, responded to Russia’s announcement by demanding that Moscow “accept options for our routes, as well as… establish a ceasefire, which we will agree to.” Ukraine has called for the opening of evacuation corridors that largely keep citizens within Ukraine’s borders.

Despite this, skepticism toward those corridors grew after civilian evacuations were halted within hours on both Saturday and Sunday, when Russian forces were accused of shelling the escape routes.

Do humanitarian corridors work in Ukraine? 2:07

Over the weekend there were two failed attempts to open a corridor from the besieged port of Mariupol. And on Sunday, a russian military attack killed a family with two children, as well as several other civilians trying to flee the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, according to the mayor.

Ukrainian authorities said two mortar or artillery shells hit a checkpoint in Irpin, northwest of the capital, which has been the scene of heavy shelling by the Russian army in recent days. Over the weekend, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States has registered “highly credible reports of deliberate targeting of civilians” in Ukraine that would be considered a war crime.

The discussion about evacuation corridors comes as Russia redoubles its efforts in its invasion of Ukraine. Attacks on the capital Kyiv have intensified, while citizens of Mariupol and other key cities have been without food and water for days and unable to flee.

Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said on Monday that problems continue to confirm the details of any ceasefire agreement.

Stillhart told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the challenge was to get Russia and Ukraine to come to an agreement that was “concrete, actionable and precise”.

Stillhart added that so far there have only been agreements “in principle”, which were immediately broken due to lack of precision, regarding the routes and who can use them. To illustrate his point, he said that some ICRc staff had tried to leave Mariupol via an agreed route on Sunday, but soon realized that “the road they were told was actually mined”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Monday morning that the civilian corridors leading directly into Russia were part of a personal request by French President Emmanuel Macron to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

A man carries a woman as they cross a makeshift road as they flee Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday.

But the Elysee Palace responded with a statement saying this was false. He added that the “personal demand of the president of the (French) republic, like that of the rest of the allies and partners, is that the Russian offensive ends.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk criticized the Kremlin for his claim.

“We urge the Russian Federation to stop manipulating and abusing the trust of world leaders like Emmanuel Macron, like the leaders of China, Turkey or India, and to open up the routes that we have identified,” Vereshchuk said in a statement. a recorded statement released by the Government.

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