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The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, regrets that the evacuation of the civilian population from some of the cities besieged by Russia, which is being carried out with the help of the UN, does not include “soldiers and the wounded.”
These statements were made amid an interview with the Greek public television ERT and the daily newspaper Kathimeriní in Kyiv.
Now the most pressing thing, he said, is the evacuation of the Azovstal steel mill, where there are still many civilians.
“People are afraid to leave because they are being killed. Now we are talking about opening that corridor, but currently, everything depends on the Russian side,” the president added and stressed that although the UN is involved, the process is very difficult, because “we don’t trust the Russian Federation.”
One of the most tangible examples of not trusting what Russia says, Zelensky said, has been the multiple missile attacks launched against Kyiv during the visit of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who went to the Ukrainian capital after going to Moscow to talk about possibilities of evacuating civilians.
The Ukrainian president explained that right now there are buses ready to take civilians from Azovstal to Zaporizhzhia.
“From the city of Zaporizhzhia onwards we have control, that is, from there we are responsible and can take them to a safe place, to provide them with temporary accommodation until they have a chance to return,” he specified.
However, until they reach that city, some 220 kilometers from Mariupol, they must go through “a very difficult ordeal,” as they are in danger of being taken to Russian territory by the Russian Federation, something he said he explained to Guterres during his visit.
“So far, we know of half a million people who have been illegally deported to Russia or elsewhere against their will,” he stressed.
Guterres assured him that he himself took “100 percent” responsibility for the situation and that the agreement with Russia envisages that the evacuees will arrive in Ukrainian government-controlled territory. “We want to believe it,” Zelensky maintained.
Regarding the infrastructure damage recorded so far, Zelensky put the figure at about $60 billion, only in Ukrainian-controlled areas, excluding occupied territories, “where we cannot analyze anything.”