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30 Jun 2022, 09:28 HRS IST
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  • Russia, Ukraine accuse each other of impeding humanitarian corridors for safe passage of citizens, foreigners caught in conflict

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13:46 HRS IST

United Nations, Mar 8 (PTI) Russia and Ukraine have accused each other at the UN of impeding humanitarian corridors that would allow safe passage of citizens and foreigners caught in the raging conflict, even as India urged both sides to facilitate uninterrupted passage for all civilians, including stranded Indians in Ukraine

Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the UN Security Council briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine on Monday that "Ukraine deeply regrets that more than 2,000 citizens of India, China, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries suffer today along with Ukrainians from Russian aggression."

He said the government of Ukraine was in contact 24/7 with diplomatic missions and consulates of foreign countries to ensure that their citizens can safely return to their countries as soon as possible

He said Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs had established an emergency hotline for foreign citizens wishing to leave Ukraine because of the Russian armed aggression

"The Ukrainian border guards in cooperation with colleagues from neighbouring European Union countries and Moldova are doing everything possible to speed up the passage of all refugees from Ukraine and have never created obstacles that would hinder this,? Kyslytsya said

He reiterated that the only root cause of the ongoing massive humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, including the situation at the western border, was the armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine

"Russia bears full responsibility for the killing and injuring of innocent people, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and obstacles for the safe departure of Ukrainians and foreign citizens,? Kyslytsya said

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told the UN Security Council meeting that India has reiterated its urgent demand for the safe and uninterrupted passage for all innocent civilians, including Indian nationals remaining in Ukraine

"We are deeply concerned that despite our repeated urgings to both sides, the safe corridor for our students stranded in Sumy did not materialise,? Tirumurti said. Russian Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said in the Council that Moscow was ?particularly concerned? that ?Ukrainian radicals? still hold more than 1,500 foreign citizens in a number of cities as hostages to use them as a human shield

"We stand in constant contact with relevant diplomatic missions regarding those foreigners. Besides, foreign citizens who attempted to cross the Ukrainian border heading to Europe encountered immense difficulties," he said

"Those were nationals of a number of states, including African countries. We have taken note of a statement on this matter that was issued by the Senegalese presidency of the African Union. We were appalled by reported ruthless attacks of nationalists on student dorms that caused deaths of Indian students,? Nebenzia said, according to his statement posted on the website of the Russian mission

India has brought back over 17,100 of its nationals from Ukraine so far while around 700 Indian students remained stuck in the northeastern city of Sumy with their evacuation dependent on the facilitation of a safe passage by Russian and Ukrainian authorities

On Monday, Indian student Harjot Singh, who took four bullets while fleeing Ukrainian capital Kyiv a few days ago, landed at the Hindon airbase near Delhi

In the first Indian casualty in the war in Ukraine, Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, a medical student from Karnataka was killed in shelling in Kharkiv city on March 1. Nebenzia alleged that the Ukrainian side strongly refuses to cooperate with regard to the evacuation of civilians from Kharkiv and Sumy

"It is clear to us that the Kyiv regime tries to prevent the exit of civilians and foreign citizens to Russia in every way possible, out of fear that once liberated, people will tell everyone the truth about the acts of Ukrainian radicals," he said

Nebenzia added that he received an emergency statement from the Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine dated March 7. The statement says that the "Russian side offers to establish a ceasefire tomorrow, on 8 March, at 10.00 am Moscow time, and open a humanitarian corridor for evacuation of civilians from Kyiv, Chernigov, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol

?My Ukrainian colleague said Ukraine is ready to work on that. Let's see what response Ukrainian authorities give to our proposal,? he said

Kyslytsya quoted Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and said, "Today, in violation of the previously reached agreements, the Russian Federation yet again disrupted the opening of the humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of the civilian population from the besieged cities of the suburbs of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Kherson regions."

"Russia's armed forces continue bombing and missile attacks on Kyiv, Mariupol, Volnovakha, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and other cities, towns and villages. This prevents the safe exit of humanitarian convoys carrying Ukrainian and foreign citizens, as well as the delivery of medications and food,? he alleged

He said Ukraine's calls on the Member States to spare no effort in forcing Russia to uphold the ceasefire regime in order to open humanitarian corridors and prevent a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe

The Ukrainian airspace has been shut since February 24 due to the Russian military offensive. Indian citizens stuck in Ukraine are being airlifted once they cross to neighbouring countries such as Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

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