Russia says ready to help evacuate foreigners held hostage by nationalists
Russia responds to a Turkish request to help evacuate foreigners held hostage by nationalists in Mariupol.
Russia has made a decision to help evacuate foreigners held hostage by Ukrainian nationalists in Mariupol, the head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, Mikhail Mizintsev, said on Saturday.
The decision was made after a request was made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"In accordance with the request of the President of the Republic of Turkey to the President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin, a decision was made to provide full assistance in the evacuation of citizens of foreign countries held hostage by the remaining militants of nationalist battalions in certain areas of Mariupol," Mizintsev said.
He also specified that Russia's troops were opening a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Berdyansk starting 00:00 on Sunday in Moscow time. The foreigners will be evacuated from Berdyansk along any of the humanitarian corridors. He added that Russia is ready to ensure the entry and exit of ships for evacuation to the port of Berdyansk.
Mizintsev emphasized that this operation to secure the passage of the humanitarian convoy from Mariupol will only be possible with the full assistance of Ukrainian authorities, along with strict observance of the "ceasefire regime" during the evacuation and the exclusion of "the threat of shelling ships when they are leaving the port and along the entire passage route."
Russia, Mizintsev said, guarantees that it will strictly adhere to the ceasefire along the entirety of the humanitarian corridor and is further asking international organizations like the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to force Ukraine's authorities to notify Russia, Turkey, and all the relevant organizations on Sunday of its readiness to carry out the evacuation.
ICRC slams Ukraine claims as 'systematic campaign of misinformation'
After the alleged International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) forced evacuations of residents from Mariupol to Russia, Ukraine’s deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk has accused the organization of "working for the enemy," hinting at its financial interest rather than its intention of supporting Ukrainians.
Vereshchuk's accusations come following Kiev's claims that Russia was forcefully evacuating Ukrainians.
“Ukraine never agreed to a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to Russia. That’s obvious. They are occupiers. They are enemies. Not peacemakers. The Red Cross had no right to help evacuate people there,” she claimed in an interview with Ukraine’s Strana news outlet.
While the ICRC has denied carrying out forced evacuations and stressed its role as a neutral humanitarian organization that provides relief, rather than taking sides in conflicts, Vereshchuk claimed that the ICRC was “de facto working on the side of the enemy,” adding that it had been financially motivated to do so.