Hopes hinge on Ukraine escape routes as war rages

08 March 2022, 06:48 pm | Updated: 07 December 2023, 12:14 pm

Hopes hinge on Ukraine escape routes as war rages
Photo: collected

Russia said Monday it would open humanitarian corridors for civilians to flee pummelled Ukrainian cities, but Kyiv accused Moscow of making it impossible for innocent people to escape.

The latest offer brought a glimmer of hope for terrified civilians cowering under a hail of Russian shelling and mortar fire, with numerous women and children among the hundreds already killed.

Russia's defense ministry said it would open the corridors from 0700 GMT Tuesday, subject to Ukraine's approval, listing routes from Kyiv as well as the cities of Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy -- all of which have been under heavy attack, reports AFP.

Ukraine did not initially respond to the offer, with President Volodymyr Zelensky instead accusing Moscow's troops of scuppering evacuation efforts -- mining roads and destroying buses meant to carry people to safety.

Kyiv had rejected a previous proposal for evacuation corridors from the same four cities, as many of the routes led straight into Russia or its ally Belarus.

Addressing the Security Council, the UN's top humanitarian official Martin Griffiths said civilians must be allowed to leave in the direction they wish, and safe passage be granted for vitally needed humanitarian and medical supplies.

The carnage continued on day 12 of the war, with 13 people killed in shelling on an industrial bakery in the town of Makariv and the mayor of the town of Gostomel killed while delivering bread to civilians.

According to the latest tally from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which believes the real figures to be "considerably higher", 406 civilians have died since the start of Russia's assault on its ex-Soviet neighbour.

The invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin has pushed more than 1.7 million people across Ukraine's borders in what the UN calls Europe's fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.

International sanctions intended to punish Moscow have done little to slow the invasion, and energy-hungry Western nations are still weighing whether to ban Russian oil imports.

The conflict pushed oil prices to a near 14-year high, while gas prices also rocketed and stock markets around the world plunged.

Category : International