Things not so good for Ukrainians trapped in Mariupol, being used as human shields, and stopped from leaving the city with bullets from their own side.
‘No Way to Leave, Everyone is Shot’: Refugee Says Ukrainian Forces Using Violence Against Civilians
1 hour ago (Updated: 51 minutes ago)
The southeast Ukrainian city of Mariupol contains a major concentration of Azov Regiment troops – an openly neo-Nazi volunteer unit of the Ukrainian National Guard. It’s also populated by over 400,000 civilians, and the Russian military has expressed concerns that these people are being used as human shields.
Ukrainian forces are “shooting” down civilians attempting to flee Mariupol, a resident who managed to escape the city has told
“In the direction of the Ukrainian forces there is no way to go there at all. Everyone is shot there,” the woman said. “There was even a convoy that was evacuated, there was a corridor and buses were evacuated from Volnovakha to Mariupol. They traveled about 10 km and were shot, and that’s it,” the refugee added.
The woman said she experienced no problems in traveling through areas controlled by Russian and Donetsk People’s Republic forces. “We approached them and asked ‘can we leave?’ They said, ‘yes’. We drove to Donskoye, where we took some things. We told grandmothers that we were going, from there we went to the next settlement, we were allowed to pass everywhere,” she indicated.
The Russian military announced a ceasefire Monday morning and opened a humanitarian corridor for civilians from the cities of Mariupol, Kiev, Kharkov and Sumy after receiving an urgent request from French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mariupol was completely surrounded by Russian and DPR forces last week after troops met up north of the city, reducing Ukrainian control to a narrow strip along the coast of the Sea of Azov.
Earlier Monday, Russian MoD spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Ukrainian nationalist units in Mariupol had used over 150 civilians as a literal ‘human shield’ after coming into contact with DPR forces probing defences along the city’s Victory Avenue.
On Sunday, the DPR People’s Militia said Azov militants had shot at a column of civilians trying to leave the city along the humanitarian corridor along the M23 highway in the direction of Novoazovsk. Two civilians were killed and four were injured in that incident, the People’s Militia said. Another 150 civilians were said to have been provided safe exit by DPR and Russian forces.
The Russian military has accused nationalist forces of preventing the evacuation of the civilian population from warzones throughout the ongoing campaign in Ukraine, saying locals have been threatened with violence and citing reports of exits from settlements being mined. The MoD has also charged Ukraine’s military and nationalists with deliberately deploying artillery in built up areas in a bid to provoke Russian forces into counterattacks striking civilian areas and infrastructure.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Alexei Reznikov promised Monday that Kiev authorities would do everything possible to ensure the opening of a humanitarian corridor in Mariupol. However, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk expressed opposition to humanitarian corridors if they meant people would be seeking refuge in Russia.
“This is an unacceptable option for opening humanitarian corridors. Our people won’t go from outside Kiev to Belarus and then fly to Russia,” Vereshchuk said. Instead, the minister suggested, the evacuation of civilians should be exclusively to areas controlled by Ukraine.
Russia began a military operation aimed at “demilitarizing” Ukraine on 24 February after granting recognition to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, and following months of escalating shelling, sniper and sabotage attacks by Ukrainian forces on the Donbass. The operation is the culmination of a crisis which began in 2014 –when a Western-backed coup in Kiev sparked an uprising in eastern Ukraine, and was followed by a 7+ year civil war which led to the deaths of over 13,000 people.