DPR militia announces evacuation routes from ‘nearly-encircled’ Ukrainian city
Residents of Mariupol can leave the city either west or east, a spokesman for the Donetsk People’s Republic has said
Residents of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol who want to leave the area due to ongoing hostilities in the region can use one of the humanitarian corridors established for them, Eduard Basurin, the spokesman for the militia force of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) announced during a press briefing on Tuesday.
Two separate evacuation routes, one leading west and one leading east, have been established, the official said. The routes will be available until Wednesday, Basurin said. The corridors were organized by the militias together with Russian forces deployed in the western part of the region, he added.
Basurin claimed earlier on Tuesday that Mariupol was about to be fully encircled by the militia. He stated that the DPR forces have no intention to lay full-scale siege on the city, to avoid unnecessary casualties, and that the republic wanted to gain control over it as part of a negotiated peace settlement.
Mariupol is a major city on the Sea of Azov in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, which is home to over 400,000 people. The DPR claims it as part of its sovereign territory. The city remained under Ukrainian government control throughout the civilian conflict in eastern Ukraine, which started in 2014 after Ukraine’s two easternmost regions rejected the armed coup that took place in the capital, Kiev.
Russia recognized the DPR and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) last week on Monday, and launched an attack against Ukraine three days later. The military operation started after Kiev refused to pull back its troops from the front line with the breakaway republics. The armed forces of both regions have been fighting to take over what they consider to be their land, occupied by Ukraine amid the Russian offensive.