Turkey May Assist Mariupol Evacuees After Russians Block Humanitarian Routes – Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk said on Monday that Turkey may help establish an evacuation route for people still trapped in the city of Mariupol after Russian troops reportedly blocked humanitarian convoys.
Some 120,000 people are still stuck in the city and at immediate risk, with Russian shelling continuing in the city. While Russian troops are withdrawing from western regions of Ukraine, Mariupol is a tactical territory for Russian forces to maintain control of as it connects the Crimean peninsula and the contested region of Donbas.
Turkish Defense Minister made similar comments on Sunday, expressing willingness to assist with the evacuation of civilians in Mariupol by sea.
“In this context, our coordination with authorities of the Russian Federation and Ukraine continues,” Akar said.
Ankara expressed willingness to support the efforts to the Russian Ministry of Defense, and representatives of the Turkish military in Moscow also conveyed their willingness to assist to Russian authorities directly. Ukrainian military representatives in Ankara were also informed of the plans.
“As Turkey, we continue to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine. Turkey also gives its support regarding evacuations. We will continue to support the Ukrainian people,” Akar said.
The announcement comes after aid organizations repeatedly tried to evacuate citizens from the city, only to be blocked by the Russian military. The International Red Cross mounted a second attempt at sending buses into the city – after the first convoy was blocked and large quantities of supplies intended for civilians were confiscated by Russian troops – but failed again over the weekend.
“The ICRC team departed Zaporizhzhia on Saturday morning,” a spokesperson for the Red Cross told Vox. “They are spending a second night en route to Mariupol and are yet to reach the city.”
Russia Sabotages Humanitarian Corridors
On Monday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk said that buses intended to be used to rescue civilians trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol were blocked from reaching the city by Russian forces.
During an appearance on national television, Vereschuk accused Russian troops of purposely blocking the evacuation – organized by the International Red Cross – and said that some 100 Turkish citizens were also still trapped in the city.
Several attempts have been made in recent weeks to evacuate citizens still stranded in Mariupol, but to no avail. Russia continues to deny that its troops are blocking humanitarian routes, though as we have reported previously, Russian forces have a history of weaponizing humanitarian routes to aid their own advancement.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.