Moscow will unilaterally open evacuation routes from Ukraine, leading to Russia at 10 AM local time or 2 AM ET, daily, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev of the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday, as per CNN.
Mizintsev stated, “We guarantee full security in the territories controlled by the Russian Armed Forces”.
As per CNN, there’s been no clarity on the time these routes close, if they close at all. Moreover, the Colonel-General denied reports of Russia not maintaining the pre-agreed ceasefire arrangements, calling them vile lies.
The announcement from Moscow comes after a top-level meeting between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Notably, after the meeting, Kuleba said to reporters that the two sides hadn’t agreed upon a ceasefire. However, while Lavrov hadn’t personally committed to humanitarian corridors for evacuation, he’d assured correspondence with Russian authorities on the matter.
Notably, there had been earlier attempts to set up evacuation corridors as a series of talks took place. It didn’t see much success, like the Mariupol corridor, where evacuation was initially disrupted and then halted altogether, as it came under Russian shelling.
Russia’s decision to allow safe evacuation also comes at a time when Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky has already announced that the nation is cooling down to the idea of joining NATO and the appeal for a fast-tracked European Union (EU) membership has also been snubbed. Notably, this was part of Moscow’s conditions to deescalate the situation, before the invasion, when Russian President Vladimir Putin was increasing troop presence along Ukraine’s border.
Also, the current attempt on Russia’s part to get civilians out of Ukraine comes when the invading country has already been accused of committing war crimes. Both Zelensky and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have slammed Russia for targeting civilians. The US too has taken cognizance of this shift but has shied away from calling Russian actions a war crime.