Ukraine said Russia’s announcement of humanitarian corridors that evacuate civilians into Russia and Belarus is “unacceptable,” insisting that the flow of people from battle zones should be allowed into western Ukraine or European Union countries.
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced six evacuation corridors and claimed that agreement had been reached with the Ukrainian side in advance: one from the capital, Kyiv, to Gomel in Belarus; two from the hard-hit port city Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine and Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia; one from Kharkiv to Russia’s Belgorod region; two from Sumy to Belgorod and to Poltava in east-central Ukraine.
Russia said that the opening of corridors came at the personal request of French President Emmanuel Macron after he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday. Macron has denied Russia’s claim that he asked for humanitarian corridors in Ukraine that lead to Russia.
Some local leaders said there were no confirmations of a temporary cease-fire, and Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk posted a video on the presidential channel saying that the proposed evacuation routes are “unacceptable.”
“This is an unacceptable variant for opening humanitarian corridors,” she said in the video. “Our people will not go to Belarus, so that they will then go by plane to the Russian Federation.”
“I hope that the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, understands that his name and sincere effort to help the civilian population of Ukraine and foreign citizens … is in fact being used and manipulated by the Russian Federation.”
Ukraine accused Russia of disrupting two previous attempts to evacuate civilians over the weekend, and the latest announcement from Moscow came as its forces continued to bombard airfields and encircle cities across Ukraine.
“We do not have confirmation at the moment that ceasefire started … [or was] set out for this day,” the deputy mayor of Mariupol, Sergei Orlov, told the BBC, saying it was difficult to collect information given the city has been without electricity, heat, water or phones for days and Russian shelling continues. “The route is not safe,” he said.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, “Detailed information about the humanitarian corridors has been brought to the Ukrainian side in advance, as well as to the specialized structures of the UN, the OSCE and the International Committee of the Red Cross.”
Producing no evidence, he blamed Ukrainian “nationalists” for the deaths of four civilians in an attempted Mariupol evacuation Sunday evening.