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Russia unveils new proposal for evacuation routes in Ukraine

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Over 2 million people in Ukraine have asked Russia to facilitate their escape from the country, the Russian military says

The Russian military has proposed a new evacuation plan for Ukrainian civilians and foreign nationals aiming to flee major cities amid Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine.

In a statement late on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that it will ensure safe passage for civilians from Kiev, Chernigov, Mariupol, Kharkov and Sumy all the way to Russian territory. People leaving Kiev and Chernigov, a city northeast of the capital, would first arrive in Belarus, from where they would be flown to Russia. Refugees from the three other cities could cross into Russia directly.

The Ukrainian side, meanwhile, would provide exit routes to civilians seeking to escape Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy through Ukrainian territory, according to the proposal.

The Russian military said that the humanitarian corridors would be opened from 0700 GMT Tuesday under a temporary ceasefire. It urged Kiev to accept the proposed evacuation plan until 1200 GMT the same day.

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People leave the city of Irpin, outside Kiev, Ukraine, March 7, 2022. © Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP
Ukraine calls Russia’s evacuation proposal ‘absurd’

Russia registered some 2 million appeals for evacuation assistance in the span of the last two days, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed. It stressed that the scope of the messages prompted it to “prepare and carry out the humanitarian operation.”

“Its results depend solely on the Ukrainian side,” the ministry said, accusing Ukrainian “nationalists” of blocking civilians from leaving areas under Kiev’s control.

Earlier on Monday, Kiev rejected Moscow’s previous proposal to establish humanitarian corridors that would have seen Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Russia through Belarus. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called the offer “absurd and unacceptable.” She suggested Moscow should instead accept alternative routes put forward by the Ukrainian side.

While both parties have insisted that they were willing to ensure safe passage of civilians through ‘humanitarian corridors,’ multiple attempts to reach such agreements have failed, with Moscow and Kiev pointing fingers at each other for the lack of progress as each side blames the other for violating temporary ceasefire deals.

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