Ukraine slams ‘immoral’ stunt after Moscow says it will let civilians flee – to Russia

  • Discussions on humanitarian corridors come after failed ceasefires
  • Oil price soars as US mulls Russian oil ban
  • Ukraine says Russian forces are planning an assault on Kiev

LVIV/KIEV, Ukraine, March 7 (Reuters) – Russia on Monday announced new “humanitarian corridors” to transport Ukrainians trapped under its bombardment – to Russia itself and its ally Belarus, a move immediately denounced by Kiev like an immoral blow.

The announcement came after two days of failed ceasefires to allow civilians to flee the besieged city of Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of people are trapped without food or water, under relentless shelling and unable to evacuate. their wounded.

The new “corridors” would open at 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT) from the capital Kyiv and the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Sumy, as well as Mariupol, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

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According to maps published by the RIA news agency, the Kiev corridor would lead to Belarus, while civilians from Kharkiv would be allowed to travel only to Russia. Russia will also organize an airlift to take Ukrainians from Kiev to Russia, the ministry said.

“Attempts by the Ukrainian side to deceive Russia and the entire civilized world…are useless this time,” the ministry said.

A spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the move “completely immoral” and said Russia was trying “to use people’s suffering to create a television image”.

“They are Ukrainian citizens, they should have the right to evacuate to Ukrainian territory,” the spokesman told Reuters.

“That’s one of the issues that causes the humanitarian corridors to crumble. They seem to be okay with it, but they themselves want to provide humanitarian aid for a TV image, and want the corridors lead in their direction.”

Russia’s invasion was condemned around the world, sent more than 1.5 million Ukrainians fleeing abroad and triggered sweeping sanctions that isolated Russia to a degree never seen before by a si great economy.

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians. He calls the campaign he launched on February 24 a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and eliminate the leaders he calls neo-Nazis. Ukraine and its Western allies call it a transparent pretext for an invasion aimed at conquering a nation of 44 million people.

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Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff said Russian forces were “beginning to build up resources for the storming of Kyiv”, a city of more than 3 million people, after days of sluggishness in their main advance to southern Belarus.

“NO PEACEFUL PLACE ON THIS EARTH”

International attention has focused on Irpin, a Kiev suburb where residents have crossed a river to escape Russian bombing. In an address to the nation on Sunday evening, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described a family gunned down there as they tried to escape.

Russians responsible for such atrocities would never be forgiven, he said: “For you there will be no peaceful place on this earth except the grave.”

The United Nations has called for safe passage to reach people cut off from life-saving aid across Ukraine. In a humanitarian update, he described a psychiatric hospital 60 km from Kiev, running out of water and medicine with 670 people trapped inside, including bedridden patients in dire need.

While Russia’s advance into northern Kiev has been stalled for days with an armored column stretching for miles along a highway, it has made more progress in the south, pushing east and west along the Black Sea and Azov coasts.

In Mariupol, residents still trapped are sleeping underground to escape more than six days of shelling by Russian forces that have cut off food, water, electricity and heating. Read more

About half of the city’s residents were due to be evacuated on Sunday, but that effort was cut short on a second day when a ceasefire plan fell apart as the sides accused each other of not stopping shoot and bombard.

Ukrainian authorities said on Monday that the southern city of Mykolaiv was bombed. Zelenskiy warned that Russia’s next big target could be Odessa, a historic Black Sea port of one million people.

Nearby Kherson is so far the only major city the Russians have captured. Ukraine said it destroyed 30 Russian helicopters at an airfield overnight. This could not be confirmed.

The official UN civilian death toll in hostilities across Ukraine is 364, including more than 20 children, although officials acknowledge that this is likely to be a fraction of the true toll. Read more

Russia has recognized nearly 500 dead among its soldiers. Ukraine claims the true death toll is in the thousands. The death toll cannot be verified, but footage widely filmed across Ukraine shows the burning wreckage of Russian armored columns and Ukrainian towns reduced to rubble by Russian strikes.

In Russia itself, authorities have imposed an almost total blackout on unofficial information. The last major independent broadcasters from the post-Soviet era were shut down last week, and a new law threatens long prison terms for reporting deemed by authorities to discredit the military. Many foreign news agencies have suspended reporting from Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States had seen credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians and was documenting them to support a possible war crimes investigation. Read more

As anti-war protests unfolded around the world, Ukraine renewed its call for the West to toughen sanctions and also demanded more weapons, including Russian-made planes. Western countries have so far rejected Ukrainian demands to impose a no-fly zone, which NATO leaders say would lead to open conflict with Russia.

“Apparently it is a pleasure for our friends to sit in a cozy cafe in Paris, Berlin, New York or Budapest, slowly drinking coffee with a croissant and looking at pictures of Ukrainian cities that are destroyed at this precise moment,” Zelenskiy’s adviser said. Mihkhailo Podolyak said in a social media post. “But our cities, dying, are still fighting.”

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Reporting from Reuters offices Writing by Humeyra Pamuk, Stephen Coates, Peter Graff Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Tomasz Janowski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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