Russia Seeing Humanitarian Crisis of ‘Catastrophic’ Levels as Far-Right Ukrainians Take Hostages
20:30 GMT 12.03.2022 (Updated: 21:44 GMT 12.03.2022)
A Russian general pointed to the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol as a flashpoint, asserting that far-right forces have been firing at those trying to flee the city through humanitarian corridors. Hundreds of thousands of people, including many foreign nationals, are effectively being held hostage, the general stated.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Over 6,900 foreign nationals are being held by Ukrainian far-right forces and are being used as human shields in combat, the head of the Russian National Defense Control Center announced on Saturday.
"More than 6,900 citizens from 16 foreign countries are still being held hostage as a ‘human shield’ by Ukrainian neo-Nazis," reported Russian General Mikhail Mizintsev.
Foreign crews of over 50 foreign-flagged vessels are stranded in Ukrainian seaports, the general added.
Foreign citizens hail from Azerbaijan, Greece, Georgia, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, the Philippines and Jamaica, among others. Moscow has reported that it is in contact with their respective diplomatic missions.
Mizintsev added that some cities in Ukraine are facing a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions as the situation continues to worsen
across the country.
“The humanitarian situation in Ukraine, unfortunately, continues to deteriorate and is of catastrophic proportions in some cities. Nationalist armed forces have been planting bombs in residential neighborhoods, destroying bridges and roads,” the Russian military general stated.
The top military representative also noted that, on March 12, for humanitarian purposes, Russia had provided humanitarian corridors in the direction of Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy, Kharkov and Mariupol, for the eighth time, beginning at 10 am, local time.
Kiev has rejected multiple attempts by the Kremlin to conduct humanitarian evacuations of civilians into Russia from the southeastern Ukrainian port of Mariupol.
"Kiev has not yet authorized any of humanitarian corridors to Russia, once again showing how much the authorities are indifferent to their own people," Mizintsev announced.
The Russian general additionally accused troops in Ukraine of violating humanitarian corridors while "hunting" those who flee eastward. The Ukrainian national security agency - the SBU - has, according to the Russian military general, been tracking phone calls and conducting mass searches and arrests to stop people from traveling to Russia.
"People are being forced to find excuses for seeking protection in Russia," Mizintsev stated.
Some 450 civilians heading toward
the bordering Russian region of Kursk, from Ukraine’s Sumy region, had their transports seized and were driven away from the border, according to Mizintsev's report.
Russia as evacuated at least 9,787 people from conflict zones across Ukraine and the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics in the past 24 hours, according to the Kremlin. The total number of evacuees has topped 231,000, which includes 51,996 children.
Moscow, Mizintsev continued, has been contacted by over 2.6 million civilians and foreigners stranded in Ukraine in hopes of leaving the conflict-torn country, with a reported 19,963 pleas for help over the past 24 hours alone.
At the time of the proclamation of independence for the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in 2014, Mariupol, with a population of about 450,000, was the second largest city, after its local capital of Donetsk. In June 2014, however, the Ukrainian military regained control of Mariupol, and its eastern suburbs became one of the hot spots of conflict in Ukraine.
On March 7, Alexander Semenov, deputy commander of the DPR's Vostok battalion, said that the largest city on the Azov coast was surrounded, and that certain areas were being cleared. Mariupol is home to the far-right Azov
nationalist regiment, accused of committing crimes
and using civilians as human shields in combat situations to protect themselves from harm.
The Kremlin launched a special military operation in Ukraine on February 24 at the request of breakaway republics in Donbass to carry out "demilitarization and denazification" in Ukraine. Additionally, the special military operation seeks to bring to justice war criminals responsible for "bloody crimes against civilians" in the region.
According to official statements from the Russian Ministry of Defense, its military conducts missile strikes only at Ukraine's military infrastructure and troops. With the support of the Russian army, the DPR and LPR troops are reported to be developing an offensive. Russian President Vladimir Putin has on multiple occasions declared that there is no goal to occupy Ukraine.
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