Following the series of Russian attacks on civilians and non-combatants, Russia has announced that it will have a ceasefire with Ukraine to allow civilians to leave Ukraine via numerous humanitarian corridors. However, these corridors and evacuation routes were mostly (if not all) leading to Russia and Belarus, much to the frustration of the Ukrainian government.

Russia Wants Ukrainian Civilians To “Evacuate” To Russia

The said humanitarian corridors were requested by French President Emmanuel Macron, who was negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend. Humanitarian corridors from Kyiv were reportedly leading to southern Belarus, and civilians from Kharkiv would be directed to Russia, which would essentially be Ukrainians evacuating to a belligerent state in the war. Many would prefer to go to the west and countries like Hungary, Poland, and Romania, as well as the United States and the United Kingdom.

French President Emmanuel Macron with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow during a meeting about the Ukraine crisis (AFP/Sputnik via Al Jazeera). Source:
French President Emmanuel Macron with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow during a meeting about the Ukraine crisis (AFP/Sputnik via Al Jazeera)

In a short response to the proposals, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk called the evacuation to Belarus and Russia unacceptable. A total of 8 corridors were counter proposed by the Ukrainian government, all leading toward western Ukraine where shelling had not been prevalent yet, to allow Ukrainians evacuate to Western European countries which have agreed to process refugees from the war-torn country.

France’s Macron Denounces It As Hypocracy

French President Macron, who brokered the proposal, called it “hypocrisy” as Belarus was used as a staging ground for the invasion as military exercises were held in the country prior to the Russian advance.

“I don’t know many Ukrainians who want to seek refuge in Russia. That’s hypocrisy,” said Macron. “Humanitarian actors need to be able to intervene, so we must get full ceasefires when they intervene,” Macron said. He further explained that these issues would not be solved through “corridors which are being threatened right away [by Russia].”

Evacuation corridors heading into Russia would allow the Kremlin to claim that its invasion was justified as Ukrainians were seeking its protection.

This announcement comes after two days of failed ceasefires, where Russia had originally allowed evacuees to leave active war areas over the weekend. However, it is unknown why it had still continued its attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, pummeling heavily populated areas with mortar shells killing multiple civilians. The most publicized of the mortar attacks was the recent bombing of Irpin, with Russian forces seem to specifically target evacuees who were fleeing the suburb for the city of Kyiv, a mere 16 miles from the Ukrainian capital. Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn confirmed that a family and their male friend were killed during the mortar attacks and was independently verified by The New York Times as they caught the killings on video.

Amidst these atrocities, the Russian government has announced that Ukrainian civilians would be allowed to leave Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Sumy, all of which have been the subject of heavy fighting and missile strikes over the past weeks of fighting. Kharkiv was said to be bombed again, with the Russians targeting residential buildings, medical facilities, and government buildings. It was reported that at least eight people had died; however, this could not be independently verified.

Mariupol, specifically, was running out of food, water, and medicine as they were heavily fired upon by the Russian forces, leaving 200,000 people who were trying to flee stuck within the city. The Red Cross had been waiting for safe passage for the evacuees that never came. Power in the city was at a low, mobile networks were down, and shops were reportedly looted out of hunger. Mariupol is specifically important for the Russians as its capture would establish a land corridor to Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.

Despite the Russian advance, Ukraine has defended its positions well. They have repelled Russian forces through fierce fighting and a unifying spirit compared to their Russian counterparts, who were reportedly suffering from low morale, food supplies, and low fuel. These Ukrainian forces are to be backed up by over 20,000 volunteers from numerous countries all over the world. However, it remains unclear if these volunteers have arrived in Ukraine. Many Russian soldiers were reported to be surrendering without a fight, leaving their tanks and other equipment to be taken by the Ukrainians. Some people used tractors to pull the heavy vehicles away.

Ukraine responded to Russia’s proposal of evacuating Ukrainians to Russia and its ally Belarus as an “immoral stunt.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s spokesperson stated that the proposal was the Kremlin trying to utilize the suffering of the Ukrainian people for a “television picture.” “They are citizens of Ukraine. They should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

Peace talks between the Ukrainian government and the Russian government were held as reported by Presidential Adviser and lead negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak as they arrived via helicopter. The said third round of peace talks would focus on establishing said humanitarian corridors and a longer ceasefire. It was reported that the 3rd round of peace talks had ended and that no breakthroughs had been established, just as predicted, with both sides not nearing any compromises.

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