Ukraine accuses Putin of manipulating west over humanitarian corridors into Russia and Belarus

The name of the French president is ‘being used and manipulated by the Russian Federation’, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said

Holly Bancroft
Monday 07 March 2022 11:27
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<p>People cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing the town of Irpin. </p>

People cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing the town of Irpin.

Ukraine has accused Moscow of manipulating world leaders after it announced that humanitarian corridors that only led to Belarus or Russia.

Russian state media claimed the corridors were approved after a “personal request” from French president Emmanuel Macron and other to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

However a spokesperson for the Elysee denied this on Monday morning, telling French TV channel BFMTV that “the president of the republic has neither asked for nor obtained corridors to Russia after his conversation with Putin.”

The proposed list of evacuation corridors included two routes from Mariupol and Sumy respectively, and one route each from Kharkiv and Kyiv.

Only one route from Mariupol and one route from Sumy lead to other Ukrainian cities, the rest lead to Belarus or Russia.

Ukrainian deputy prime minster Iryna Vereshchuk said that Ukraine was calling on Russia to agree to a ceasefire from Monday morning to allow Ukrainians to evacuate towards the western city of Lviv instead.

Ms Vereshchuk said in a televised briefing that Ukraine had received Russia’s proposals after French president Macron had held talks with Vladimir Putin.

A child looks on a residents evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during heavy shelling and bombing on 5 March.

She said: “I hope that French president Emmanuel Macron understands that his name and sincere desire to help.. in reality is being used and manipulated by the Russian Federation.”

An Elysee source told BFMTV that Mr Macron had asked Mr Putin “to let the civilian populations leave and to allow the delivery of aid.”

They added: “It’s another way for Putin to push his narrative and say that it is the Ukrainians who are the aggressors and they are the ones who offer asylum to everyone.”

Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk also said that the humanitarian corridors to Belarus and Russia were “not an acceptable option”.

Ukrainians evacuate Irpin, a city near Kyiv.

A spokesperson for President Volodymyr Zelensky branded the Russian proposals “completely immoral”.

“These are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

Civilians cross amid rubble of a damaged bridge in Irpin.

An attempt at a mass evacuation from the strategic southern port city of Mariupol failed on Sunday, after civilians came under fire as they tried to leave.

Responding to the incident, Mr Zelensky vowed to “punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war”.

He said that a family of four had been killed trying to flee and added: “How many such families have died in Ukraine. We will not forgive. We will not forget.”

Around 200,000 people remained trapped in Mariupol, according to the Ukrainian authorities, with most sleeping underground to escape shelling from Russian forces.

Yuriy, who who was shot in the leg while evacuating civilians from the shelled city of Irpin receives first aid in Kyiv.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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