Ukraine’s government has beseeched Vladimir Putin to let civilians leave the devastated city of Mariupol as a convoy of 15 buses carrying 1,114 evacuees set off on a tense escape through territory occupied by Russian forces.
The convoy of mainly women and children, escorted by Ukraine’s emergency services, faces a 125-mile journey north-west from Berdyansk, a village on the outskirts of Mariupol, to the city of Zaporizhzhia.
The city council in Mariupol said in a statement that Russian forces had “destroyed almost 80% of the city’s infrastructure in 22 dias, de los cuales 30% can no longer be rebuilt”.
The fate of those inside an art school flattened on Sunday and a theatre targeted four days earlier remains unclear.
“Mariupol residents are in terrible conditions and are overcoming new challenges every day,” the city council said.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk appealed to Rusia to allow humanitarian supplies into the city and to let civilians leave. “We demand the opening of a humanitarian corridor for civilians," ella dijo.
Vereshchuk said a convoy of vehicles carrying humanitarian aid had been sent ahead to Zaporizhzhia including flour, food and medical supplies. los 15 buses of evacuees are part of a wider effort to rescue people through five routes to Zaporizhzhia.
Ella dijo: “We understand that there will not be enough seats for everyone, so please come to the buses in an organised manner, according to the instructions of our representatives in place. We will not leave anyone and we will continue to evacuate daily according to the same algorithm until we take everyone out.”
The local authorities in Zaporizhzhia said they were preparing to receive the evacuated families with “food, medical and psychological support, as well as resettlement assistance”.
Entre 100,000 y 200,000 people remain trapped in Mariupol where people have been living in dire conditions without water, electricity and heating for weeks. Ukraine’s government has defied an ultimatum by the Russian military for its forces to “lay down arms” by 5am Moscow time (2am GMT) on Monday in return for humanitarian relief.
Lyudmila Denisova, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, said that on Monday Russian forces had fired on evacuation buses from Mariupol, a strategically important target for President Putin, and that four children had been taken to hospital. She said that as of 8am BST on Tuesday, 117 children had died in the war and more than 155 children had been injured.
“It is impossible to establish the actual number of dead and wounded children due to the fact that the occupying forces are actively fighting in Ukrainian cities,” Denisova added.
“In the Kharkiv region, a Russian tank shot down a car with a family of two children. The family shouted that they were civilians, waving a white flag, but in vain. Parents and a nine-year-old girl were killed and a 17-year-old boy was injured.
“As a result of attack of the village of Konstantinovka of the Nikolaev area houses were destroyed, under their blockages the burnt bodies of three people, among which the seven-year-old child are found. On March 21, 2022, the occupiers fired on evacuation buses with children from Mariupol. Four children were taken to hospital.”
The Russian government denies shelling civilians.
Mariupol is seen as key to securing a Russian corridor between the separatist Donbas region and illegally annexed Crimea. It is also home to the largest trading port in the Azov Sea from which Ukraine exports grain, iron and steel, and heavy machinery.
A Ukrainian MP, Anton Gerashchenko, claimed that the siege of the city was being led by Col Gen Mikhail Mizintsev, a favourite of Putin, who was said to be responsible for Russian operations in Syria. Mizintsev has been the head of the National Centre for Defence Management of the Russian Federation since December 2014 and has held the post of Col Gen since 2017.
The Ukrainian military claimed on Tuesday that Russian forces had stockpiles of ammunition and food that would last for “no more than three days”. Officials said the situation was similar with fuel. It also claimed that about 300 Russia servicemen refused to carry out orders in the Okhtyrka district of the Sumy region. The claims have not been independently verified.
On Monday night, Con las tropas de Vladimir Putin concentradas en la frontera con Ucrania, Con las tropas de Vladimir Putin concentradas en la frontera con Ucrania again urged direct talks with Putin, dicho: “Without this meeting it is impossible to fully understand what they are ready for in order to stop the war.”
He also said his country [object Window] never bow to ultimatums from Russia and cities directly under attack, including the capital, [object Window], and Mariupol and Kharkiv would not accept Russian occupation.