Evacuees from Mariupol arrive at a reception centre in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine Evacuees from Mariupol arrive at a reception centre in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine 

Relief convoys in Ukraine hampered by attacks

Emergency relief and evacuation convoys for the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol remained in doubt Friday following reports of Russian interference. At the same time, Russian officials accused Ukraine of flying helicopter gunships across the border between the two countries and striking an oil depot inside Russia.

By Stefan J. Bos 

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) says complex logistics are still being worked out to get emergency aid into Mariupol and civilians out of the city. 

Many 160,000 people are trapped there amid heavy fighting with dwindling water, food, and medical supplies.

The ICRC says it's running out of adjectives to describe the horrors that residents in Mariupol have suffered.

It explains that piecing together safe passage for the route with the parties has been "extremely complex.” 

All the details must be agreed upon and well understood by all sides and then communicated down the chain of command and to the residents of Mariupol. 

The humanitarian organization had said it plans to lead a convoy on Friday of 54 Ukrainian buses and private cars out of the devastated city. These difficulties come despite top-level Ukrainian and Russian authorities approving the plan for further evacuations from Mariupol. 

Kremlin warning 

However, the Kremlin warned that peace negotiations on Friday were undermined by an alleged Ukrainian airstrike on Russia’s territory.

It said Ukrainian helicopters attacked an oil depot in Belgorod - a Russian city just north of Ukraine.

Russia had reported shelling from Ukraine before, including an incident last week that killed a military chaplain, but not an incursion of its airspace. The governor of the Belgorod region said the alleged airstrike caused multiple fires, and two people were injured. 

Elsewhere Russian forces were under pressure including in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, but the governor said they had not yet left entirely.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense also says Ukraine has continued to make "successful but limited" counterattacks to the east and northeast of Kyiv, the capital. “We are happy with the news that Russian troops are moving away. But we remain in combat readiness,” said a Ukrainian soldier defending Kyiv. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian forces are regrouping elsewhere “in the Donbas region, Mariupol, and the Kharkiv area,” where he claims “they are preparing for powerful strikes” in the ongoing war.


01 April 2022, 17:18