Russian shelling stops Ukraine evacuations once more as Moscow issues demands to end war



The Kremlin has been widely condemned for saying it will only open humanitarian corridors for Ukrainians if they flee to Russia or Belarus, while issuing a list of demands to Kyiv.

On the twelfth day of Moscow’s war, Russia claimed it would halt its invasion “in a moment” if Ukraine agreed to certain terms. These include changing its constitution and recognizing the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

This came as Russian shelling blocks the evacuation of civilians from Kyiv, Mariupol, Sumy, Kharkiv, Volnovakha and Mykolayiv, according to Ukraine’s foreign ministry. “This prevents the safe passage of humanitarian columns with Ukrainian and foreign citizens, as well as the delivery of medicines and food,” it said in a statement.

Kyiv has called on Russia to ensure the safe passage of its citizens out of besieged cities like Mariupol, where food and water are in short supply. But as things stand, they have little chance of escape amid brutal Russian aerial and artillery assaults.

Over the weekend, Russian forces killed eight Ukrainians attempting to flee their homes in Irpin, a sign of the dangers facing ordinary people who try to escape to safety. “They’re bombing the life out of everything that is moving,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

At least 13 people then died in an attack on Monday after a bakery in the Kyiv region was hit by Russian shelling, local emergency services reported.

“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war. On our land,” Mr Zelensky said.

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Russian negotiators promised last week to open up safe routes for Ukrainian civilians. However, their subsequent offer fell far short of Ukraine and the international community’s expectations.

People flock to the train station to flee Kyiv

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Ukrainian government said it was “completely immoral” for the Kremlin to stipulate that Ukrainians only escape to enemy territory.

They [the public] should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine. [Russia] wants to supply humanitarian aid for pictures on TV, and wants the corridors to lead in its direction,” Kyiv added.

In the UK, the British foreign minister James Cleverly criticized the move as “cynical beyond belief”.

He said: “There is a view that Vladimir Putin believed there was a widespread desire of Ukrainians to be closer to Russia, to be more Russian. I think that has been proven to be a complete nonsense by the circumstances we are seeing.

“Providing evacuation routes into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense.”

(Ukrainian State Emergency Service/AFP)

More than 1.7 million Ukrainians have so far fled to neighboring countries, with more than 1 million entering Poland, the UN’s refugee agency said on Monday.

The Polish border guard service wrote on social media that Russia’s war had caused “a million human tragedies, a million people banished from their homes”.

As well as disappointment over the lack of viable humanitarian corridors, the second major development on Monday came in the form of publication of some of Moscow’s demands.

Among other orders, the Kremlin called on Ukraine to stop military action, to enshrine “neutrality” in its constitution and to officially cede Crimea to Russia.

If it accepted such proposals, Moscow claimed Ukraine would be “an independent state that will live as it wants”.

Civilians use planks to cross river fleeing Ukraine’s Irpin city after crucial bridge destroyed

Monday afternoon saw the third round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators end with little progress, ahead of discussions between the countries’ foreign ministers in Turkey later this week.

“As of now, there are no results that significantly improve the situation,” Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Mr Zelensky’s advisers, said on Monday evening. However, there was slight movement on the possibility of a civilian evacuation, I added.

Meanwhile, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said the talks were “not easy”, adding his “hope” that corridors could be opened from Tuesday.

In the Dutch city of the Hague, the International Court of Justice heard from lawyers representing Ukraine, who argued that Russia’s invasion is illegal.

(AP)

Russia “is resorting to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare, encircling cities, cutting off escape routes and pounding the civilian population with heavy ordnance”, one member of its legal team said.

In less than two weeks, Russia has inflicted roughly $10bn (£7.6bn) of damage on Ukraine’s infrastructure, Ukrainian Oleksander Kubrakov said.

The human cost of the war also continues to mount, with UN figures suggesting more than 400 Ukrainian civilians have died so far. The true number, however, is likely to be much higher.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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