The British government has condemned the “abduction and deportation” of Ukrainians from the besieged city of Mariupol, in a move that has been likened to Nazi Germany.
A Ukrainian MP claimed that her countrymen and women were being forced to relocate to “distant parts of Russia” to work in conditions akin to slave labour. The Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, said she was “appalled” by these reports and has vowed to hold President Vladimir Putin to “to account” for his treatment of civilians during the invasion.
Mariupol has been encircled by Russian troops, cutting it off from energy, food and water supplies and facing a relentless bombardment. The Kremlin issued an ultimatum for Ukrainian soldiers to put down their weapons by the early hours of Monday in the city, but Ukraine rejected the offer.
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On Sunday, city authorities said a bomb destroyed an art school where 400 people had taken shelter, with rescuers searching for people possibly trapped under the rubble. Only days before the shelling, there was a separate attack on a theater in the city where more than 1,000 people were said to have been bunkered.
Ms Truss tweeted: “I am appalled by Russian atrocities in Mariupol, including attacks on schools sheltering civilians and the abduction and deportation of Ukrainians. Putin is resorting to desperate measures as he is not achieving his objectives. Putin and his regime will be held to account.”
The reports that thousands of Mariupol’s residents have been abducted remains unverified, but Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun said that, according to information being shared by the port’s mayor, citizens were effectively being “relocated” by Moscow. Speaking to Times Radio, she said Russia was following “the logic of Nazi Germany”.
“From what we know from the city mayor and the city council, is they are taking Ukrainian citizens,” said the politician. “They are sending them through what are called the ‘filtration camps’ and then they are being relocated to very distant parts of Russia, where they are being forced to sign papers (saying) that they will stay in that area for two or three years and they will work for free in those areas.”
This morning Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said Boris Johnson was not suggesting “at all” a comparison between the Ukrainian fight against the Russian invasion and the Brexit vote in the UK. The Prime Minister said in a speech over the weekend that it was the “instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom”, with the Brexit vote a “famous recent example”.
Sajid Javid told Sky News: “What I heard from the Prime Minister was the… basically the desire for self-determination in everyone, no matter what country they’re in, no matter what their circumstance, is strong.
“I don’t think in any way he was connecting the situations in Ukraine and the UK, and if we want to know what the Prime Minister thinks about Ukraine and responding, I mean, we can see for ourselves in terms of the support that he’s provided, rock-solid support compared to any other world leader.”
He added: “I think it’s spurious to say that he was somehow connecting the UK and Ukraine in that way. I think most normal people listening to that wouldn’t have drawn that conclusion.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.