The refugee situation in Ukraine is becoming increasingly acute. Each side of the conflict is trying to facilitate the peaceful and safe evacuation of civilians from the war-torn regions. Unfortunately, good intentions and the desire to help people are being politicized. Thus, the sides are hijacking the evacuation initiative based on their foreign policy goals.
Attention should be paid to the statement published by the Russian Federation on April 5 entitled «Statement of the Joint Coordination Headquarters of the Russian Federation for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine (April 5, 2022)». This document is interesting as it provides statistics on Russian humanitarian aid in Ukraine and covers the regular disruptions of the Russian humanitarian operations in Ukraine.
Initially, Moscow states that despite humanitarian initiatives by Turkey, Germany, and France to evacuate Ukrainians from Mariupol, the Russian humanitarian operation on April 5 was disrupted by Ukrainian fighters and the intensity of shelling of Mariupol increased.
“Since March 31, 2022, the militants of the nationalist battalions have never fulfilled the requirements for observing the ceasefire, and on April 4 and 5, 2022, they increased the intensity of random shelling, including with the use of mortars, of a section of the humanitarian corridor adjacent to Mariupol.” – the report reads.
The Russian Federation established permanent humanitarian corridors in the Kharkiv and Mariupol directions. In the past 24 hours, the Russian Federation evacuated 18,654 people (2,837 children) from Ukraine. Since the beginning of the operation, 620760 people (122684 children) have been evacuated. 7,8341 vehicles crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border, with 2,541 vehicles crossing the border daily.
From Mariupol 127776 people were rescued, 1681 people in the last 24 hours. In the last 24 hours, there were 1065 requests for evacuation, and in general, the Russian Federation received 2738174 requests.
At this point, more than 22,500 tons of food, medicine, and necessities have been prepared at collection points. Since March 2, Russia has already delivered 8,541 tons of humanitarian goods to Ukraine and conducted 757 humanitarian actions. The civilian population has already received 449 humanitarian shipments. It was planned to deliver 130 tons of humanitarian cargo to the regions of Mykolaiv and Kherson on 5 April.
This report may indicate a quite feasible humanitarian operation by the Russian Federation in Ukraine as a whole. However, the Russian Armed Forces report that another operation to evacuate civilians in Mariupol was disrupted. The Ministry of Defense accuses the Ukrainian authorities of this and states that the AFU shelled the humanitarian corridor during the evacuation.
One can also note the requests of French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russian President Vladimir Putin to open a joint humanitarian corridor from Mariupol to evacuate civilians and foreign citizens. However, no satisfactory answer was received from Moscow, who is not willing to allow foreign serviceman to be deployed in the area.
Despite requests addressed to the Russian president, Turkey and France pushing their initiatives for a humanitarian operation in Ukraine. The French leader came up with an initiative to implement a humanitarian operation in Ukraine with the support of Turkey and Greece. The essence of the initiative was to create conditions for the evacuation of residents of Mariupol, and the control of the process would be accountable to the UN. Hygiene supplies and medications are also supposed to be delivered to the city during the operation.
France, represented by Macron, has several political reasons to carry out this mission: to continue the course of rapprochement with Turkey, gain power chairing the EU Council, and to increase the electorate support before the upcoming elections on April 10.
As for Turkey, it also mediates between the West and Moscow and tries to earn power points in the regional arena. In addition, there are reports about more then a 100 Turkish citizens who were blockaded in the city of Mariupol. Probably the number includes Turkish military instructors deployed in the city.
On April 4, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky thanked Turkey for mediation.
– What are your realistic scenarios for saving Mariupol?
– In Mariupol, one of the most difficult situations. I’m afraid I don’t have the right to tell you all the real scenarios. We are engaged in supporting the guys (AFU soldiers, including nationalist units like Azov). They are in a very hard situation. We are in touch almost every day. We are talking about mediation in this mission with Turkey. For a reason. I think that in the next few days, and maybe the next few hours, we will have an answer to your very difficult question, to which I, no one can find an answer.
In his turn, Emmanuel Macron held talks with the mayor of Mariupol. He also stated that most residents have already left, but some cannot leave, so the situation can only stabilize with their final release. No plans have yet been implemented.
Based on the above events and initiatives of the actors, one can note that the possibility of implementing a humanitarian operation in Ukraine directly depends on the material, geographical, and mobilization factors. Russia is more successful in carrying out a humanitarian operation, but France and Turkey are not yet, as the implementation of such an operation is much more difficult due to the above-mentioned factors. Other questions are whether Moscow will agree to accept French and Turkish aid in full and what the true intentions of the French and Turkish leaders are.
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