Kiev Has Confirmed Only One of Ten Planned Evacuation Corridors, Russian MoD Says
13:51 GMT 08.03.2022 (Updated: 16:09 GMT 08.03.2022)
The Russian military moved to establish corridors for the safe evacuation of civilians from cities near the frontline on Monday, but later accused the Ukrainian government and ultranationalist militia formations of failing to inform people of the opportunity to leave, or deliberately blocking civilians from exiting urban areas altogether.
Only one of ten civilian evacuation routes proposed by the Russian military has been confirmed by Kiev, Russian National Defence Command Center chief Mikhail Mizintsev has said.
"Unfortunately, out of the ten routes proposed to the Ukrainian side, two each from Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy, Kharkov, and Mariupol, including one from each into the Russian Federation, and others through Ukrainian-controlled territories to Poland, Moldova and Romania, Kiev has confirmed only one route -from Sumy through Poltava and on to the border with Poland," Mizintsev said in a briefing on Tuesday.
Mizintsev said that the Russian military had agreed to the idea of humanitarian corridors amid "the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in settlements across the country, where nationalists continue to forcibly detain thousands of civilians, including foreigners," and despite repeated failures in the past by authorities in Kiev to abide by existing agreements.
"Representatives of Kiev authorities and mayors of cities have received strict instructions to prevent any attempt to evacuate to Russia; that is, citizens are simply not given information about the possibility of evacuating to Russia and the creation of humanitarian corridors for this purpose," Mizintsev said.
The officer accused Ukraine's nationalist fighters of "brutally suppressing" attempts by civilians to enter Russia through evacuation corridors, echoing remarks made by the Russian military earlier about militants' use of civilians as human shields
, and attempts to gun down
people trying to flee areas where fighting is taking place.
Donetsk People's Militia units confirmed on Tuesday that they have enforced a halt to fighting to allow for the evacuation of the civilian population of Mariupol, and dismissed claims by the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment forces that DPR and Russian forces had begun an offensive to take the city after opening humanitarian corridors. The People's Militia repeated its previously expressed fears about Azov using the besieged city's population as a "human shield."
In his briefing, Mizintsev suggested that the authorities in Kiev had factually lost their ability to govern the country, with all decisions at the ground level now being made by the ultranationalist forces "and their accomplices."
The officer accused Ukraine's territorial defence battalions of holding over 4.5 million civilians and about 2,000 foreigners "hostage."
The Russian military has amassed a database of information about over 2.5 million civilians across 1,917 settlements seeking assistance with evacuation to Russia, but will not provide it to the Ukrainian side out of fear that nationalist forces will intimidate, attack or kill these individuals, Mizintsev said.
Russia is apprehensive about transferring this information to the United Nations for the same reason, even if it means that the body will continue to accuse Russia of failing to fulfil its humanitarian obligations, the officer added.
"This database contains the names and addresses of these people, audio and video evidence of their panicked state, heartbreaking stories about the difficult humanitarian situation, and about the horrors and atrocities perpetrated by the nationalists, including murders, physical violence, searches and illegal arrests," Mizintsev said.
Finally, the officer reported on the state of humanitarian aid deliveries to Ukraine, saying 946 tonnes of assistance have been sent to date in regions including Kiev, Zaporozhye, Kharkov, Kherson, and Chernigov, as well as the Donbass republics. The aid includes essential items, food and medicines, he said.