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Ukraine announced on Saturday that humanitarian evacuation corridors had been opened around Mariupol, but warned that Moscow was using “parallel” routes towards Russia.
“I have just received information that the occupiers may try to organize their corridor in parallel with us for evacuation to Russia,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk warned on Facebook. “So please be careful. Don’t give in to deception and provocation.”
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Vereschuk has been working for days to secure an escape route from the partially besieged city, but his attempts have been repeatedly thwarted by Russian troops.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory over Mariupol this week despite thousands of civilians and resistance fighters holed up under the city’s Azovstal steelworks.
The invading forces repeatedly tried to root out the fighters sheltered deep in the tunnels under the factory on the grounds that they would allow them to live if they surrendered voluntarily.
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But Vereschuk on Friday criticized Russian claims that a separate escape route was not needed for civilians stuck in the war-torn city.
Additionally, reports have surfaced for weeks that Russian troops are forcibly deporting Ukrainians to camps in Russia.
The Deputy Prime Minister clarified that organized evacuation routes from Kyiv will head towards Zaporizhzhia via four additional stops along the Sea of Azov before heading inland.
Zaporizhzhia, which lies directly west of Donetsk over the Sea of Azov, has become a destination for evacuees fleeing the port city of Mariupol in Donetsk.
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But on Friday he also became the target of a new Russian aggression,
A Ukrainian spokesman for its defense ministry has warned that Moscow is considering annexing Zaporizhzhia along with its neighboring region of Kherson – which sits just above the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.
Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is not only seeking to hold a referendum to take control of parts of southern Ukraine, but that it will forcibly conscript Ukrainian men into the regions to ‘replenish’ its lost personnel .
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