Nicosia has officially called for an immediate end to the siege of Mariupol, with the Cypriot foreign ministry looking forward to having civilians including members of the Greek Diaspora evacuated out of the Ukrainian warzone.
The Cypriot foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that it had “great concern” over Mariupol, a besieged town surrounded by Russian troops in the eastern part of the country.
“We call for an immediate end to the exclusion for humanitarian reasons, so as to avoid further complications that put the lives of its inhabitants in imminent danger,” an official statement said.
Ukrainian authorities on Monday said hundreds of private cars left Mariupol.
Previous attempts to establish evacuation corridors for unarmed individuals and civilians fell apart, with ceasefires collapsing and causing delays in delivery of humanitarian aid.
Previous attempts to establish evacuation corridors for unarmed individuals and civilians fell apart, with ceasefires collapsing and causing delays in delivery of humanitarian aid
Nicosia said it looked “forward to the creation and maintenance of humanitarian corridors,” adding there was concern for the whole country but particularly for Mariupol where members of the Greek Diaspora reside.
“Our concern about the security situation in the country is not limited to the Mariupol region, but extends to the whole country. However, the presence of thousands of expatriates and civilians in Mariupol naturally attracts our particular interest,” the statement said.
The last successful evacuation out of Mariupol was two weeks ago, at the time when the city was encircled by Russian troops.
But conflicting reports then emerged with Ukrainian authorities accusing Russia of deliberately opening fire on Mariupol-bound aid convoys and Moscow blaming Kiev for sabotaging ceasefire agreements and holding civilian hostages.
Individuals trying to leave Ukrainian towns including journalists trying to document war-fleeing refugees have been targeted by shooters, with Ukrainian officials blaming Russian troops and Moscow denying the allegations and pointing the finger at Ukrainian paramilitary.
Over the weekend an American journalist was shot and killed after a car came under fire near a checkpoint outside Kiev, but it was unclear who targeted the vehicle.
Both Washington said Moscow on Sunday suggested the circumstances of his death were unclear but said the other side bore responsibility.
Last month Athens pointed the finger squarely at Moscow over the deaths of Greek civilians in Mariupol, saying they had information the fatalities were the result of Russian air strikes.
But Moscow says it has evidence that elements within the Ukrainian army and neo-Nazi battalions were behind the attacks, arguing nationalists have been known for many years to strike even with heavy weapons at civilians.
The deaths of two other Greeks north of Mariupol prior to the invasion were also reported at the time as unrelated to the crisis but a Greek MEP raised the issue with the European Commission, calling for a probe to “uncover the truth behind the killing of the two ethnic Greeks.”