Kyiv: Russia Stopped the Humanitarian Convoy to Mariupol and Captured 15 Rescuers
Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of capturing 15 rescuers and drivers from a humanitarian convoy trying to deliver much-needed food and other aid to the devastated Russian-besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which was attacked after weeks of air and ground strikes by Russia, reports AP.
The Red Cross confirmed that the humanitarian convoy, which tried to reach the city, failed to enter it.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, approximately 100,000 civilians remain in the city on the Sea of Azov. Its key location has made it the scene of the worst devastation of the war that began on February 24.
“We've been bombed for the last 20 days,” said Victoria Totsen, 39, who fled to Poland.
In a video address to the nation last night, Zelensky accused Russian forces of blocking the humanitarian convoy despite a preliminary agreement on the route. “We are trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for the people of Mariupol, but almost all our efforts, unfortunately, are thwarted by the Russian occupiers through shelling or deliberate terror,” he said.
The convoy's attempt to deliver aid came as Russian naval ships joined Russia's weeks of air and ground strikes on Mariupol, US officials said. An anonymous senior US military official said Russian ships in the Sea of Azov had contributed to the shelling of Mariupol. He said there were seven Russian ships in the area, including a minesweeper and several landing craft.
The hands of a surviving Mariupol woman tremble as she travels by train to the western city of Lviv. “There is no connection with the world. We could not ask for help,” said Julia Kritska. Volunteers, her husband and her son help her escape. “People don't even have water there.”
The latest information from the authorities in Mariupol is from March 15. At least 2,300 civilians have been killed in the siege to date. Information from the city suggests that they are much more, as bodies lie uncovered on the streets. The airstrikes last week destroyed a theater and art school where many civilians were hiding.
In a statement, Zelensky said more than 7,000 people had been evacuated from Mariupol on Tuesday. Those who remain are subjected to inhumane living conditions under a complete blockade, without food, without water, without drugs and under constant shelling, under constant bombing, he said.
Before the war, 430,000 people lived in Mariupol.
Located on the Sea of Azov, Mariupol is an important port for Ukraine and is located in the area between Russia and Crimea. The siege tore the city apart from the sea and allowed Russia to create a land corridor to Crimea.
It is unclear what part of the city Russia holds, and fleeing residents say fighting continues street by street.
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