Ukraine on Monday blasted Moscow’s announcement of “humanitarian corridors” to allow citizens to evacuate three cities as “completely immoral” – because their escape routes would lead into Russia or its ally Belarus.
Russia announced a limited ceasefire starting Monday morning to allow civilians to evacuate Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy.
But Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk later rejected the offer.
“This is not an acceptable option,” she said, adding that the civilians “aren’t going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia.”
Ukraine received Russia’s proposal early Monday morning after French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vereshchuk told a televised briefing.
“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,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday declared that the future of Europe lies with the Ukrainian resistance and said Russian forces shelled cities such as Mykolayiv and Kharkiv with rockets.
“This had zero sense from a military standpoint, it’s simply terror,” he said.
Zelensky also called for a global boycott of all Russian products – including oil.
“If the invasion continues and Russia does not abandon its plans against Ukraine, then we need a new sanctions package,” Zelensky said, including “a boycott of Russian exports, in particular, the rejection of oil and oil products from Russia.”
Ukraine has accused Russian troops of hitting areas designated as humanitarian corridors to prevent people from escaping cities that are under attack.
But Moscow has blamed Ukraine for the failure so far of humanitarian corridors and denies targeting civilians.
A spokesperson for Zelenskiy called Russia’s move “completely immoral” and said Moscow is trying to “use people’s suffering to create a television picture.”
“They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the spokesperson told Reuters.
“This is one of the problems that is causing the humanitarian corridors to break down. They seem to agree to them, but they themselves want to supply humanitarian aid for a picture on TV, and want the corridors to lead in their direction,” the spokesperson added.
Russia calls the offensive it launched on Feb. 24 a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and remove leaders it calls neo-Nazis.
Ukraine and its Western allies call this a pretext for an invasion to conquer a nation of 44 million residents.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the US had seen credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians and was documenting them to support a potential war crimes probe.
With Post wires