Russia’s chief negotiator in talks between Moscow and Kyiv accused Ukraine of blocking humanitarian corridors for civilians escaping advancing Russian forces, calling it a “war crime”.
“The nationalists who have seized positions in cities continue to hold civilians there,” Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky told state television. He accused Kyiv of using the civilians as “a human shield” and said that “this is undoubtedly a war crime.”
Just after 1300 GMT, Russian agencies reported that Ukraine’s delegation arrived on the Poland-Belarus border for a third round of talks with Russia that will focus on corridors.
Ukraine on Monday dismissed Moscow’s offer to set up humanitarian corridors from several bombarded cities, after it emerged some routes would lead refugees into Russia and Belarus.
Russia had said it would set up the corridors after unleashing another night of relentless attacks on the country from the air, land and sea.
Medinsky said that in the talks, the Russian side would “try again with the Ukrainian side to discuss the operation of the humanitarian corridors that we promised.”
He claimed the corridors are “open” and that the Russian army had stopped firing in the area of the evacuation routes.
On Monday morning, the Russian army listed evacuation routes from the capital Kyiv as well as Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy — all of which heave been under heavy Russian attacks in recent days.
Kyiv rejected these proposals because the corridors led into Russia or its ally Belarus, raising questions over the safety of those who might use them.
Two recent attempts to allow thousands of civilians to leave the besieged city of Mariupol have ended in disaster, with civilians under fire and both sides accusing each other of violations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his forces are fighting to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.