Russians Keep Red Cross From Mariupol

Thousands of refugees reach inland city anyway by car and bus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 1, 2022 5:45 PM CDT
Refugees Flee Mariupol, Though Red Cross Is Stopped
A bus carries internally displaced people from Mariupol and Berdiansk to a refugee center in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

(Newser) – The International Committee for the Red Cross said it was unable to carry out an operation to bring civilians out of the shattered and encircled city of Mariupol by bus on Friday, but Ukraine said thousands of refugees nevertheless made it to safety. The Red Cross said its team had to turn back before reaching the city, the AP reports, after being blocked by Russian forces. "We do not see a real desire on the part of the Russians and their satellites to provide an opportunity for Mariupol residents to evacuate to territory controlled by Ukraine," an adviser to the city's mayor wrote on the Telegram app.

But about 1,800 refugees reached Zaporizhzhia on Friday, per the Washington Post, traveling on 42 buses. They had been picked up by buses on the edge of Berdyansk, a city down the coast from Mariupol that's controlled by Russian forces. Thousands of other refugees, most of whom were from Mariupol, arrived in Zaporizhzhia by car, officials said. The city is several hours inland from Mariupol. The Red Cross said it will try to get its team through to Mariupol again Saturday. Russian forces also "are categorically not allowing any humanitarian cargo, even in small amounts, into the city," the aide to Mariupol's mayor said.

Also Friday, Russia accused the Ukrainians of a cross-border helicopter attack on a fuel depot, per the AP. The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said a fiery raid on Russian soil by two helicopter gunships left two people wounded, though state oil company Rosneft denied anyone was hurt. "Certainly, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of the talks," a Kremlin spokesman said, five weeks after Moscow began sending more than 150,000 of own troops across Ukraine's border. The Russian claim could not immediately be verified. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he could "neither confirm nor reject the claim that Ukraine was involved in this, simply because I do not possess all the military information." (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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