More than 1.4 thousand people evacuated from Mariupol in Kyiv

On March 31, around 1.4 thousand civilians from Mariupol and the Zaporozhye region were evacuated by personal transport, using three humanitarian corridors. This was stated at a press conference by Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Reintegration of Ukraine’s Uncontrolled Territories. 

According to Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of the Russian Federation’s National Defense Control Center, the Ukrainian military impeded the evacuation of Mariupol residents through the humanitarian corridors provided by the Russian side on March 31. He emphasized that the Russian military has established a new gum corridor between Mariupol and Zaporozhye, with a layover at Berdyansk. 

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) retaliated by shelling a section of the roadway near Mariupol with mortars and heavy machine guns. As a result, the humanitarian convoy that was supposed to go from Berdyansk to Mariupol could not do so.  

According to Mizintsev, Russian armed forces and DPR and LPR soldiers maintain a “quiet regime” on all routes. 

On the diplomatic front, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, a well-known Ukrainian negotiator, described the current round of talks with the Russians as “very difficult and sticky,” noting that the two sides have fundamental differences but that there is certainly room for compromise. The conversations will resume on Wednesday, he stated. 

Ihor Zhovkva, another advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy, had sounded a more positive note earlier in the day, stating that the talks had grown more fruitful and that Russia had softened its stance by no longer making demands for Ukraine’s surrender. 

In other news, the leaders of three European Union countries, notably Poland, a NATO member on Ukraine’s doorstep, paid a bold show of support to the embattled city. Furthermore, the number of individuals departing the country has surpassed three million. 

Meanwhile, massive explosions erupted across Kyiv before daybreak, allegedly from artillery attacks. According to Ukrainian authorities, Russia’s assault on the capital became more systematic and moved closer to the city center. 

Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR, reported on March 30 that since the introduction of humanitarian corridors, roughly 140,000 people of Mariupol have been evacuated to surrounding villages. In his assessment of the situation in the city, he noted that various units of Ukrainian nationalist groups are operating in separate regions and that a cleansing operation is ongoing. 

The situation in the region deteriorated dramatically in mid-February due to Ukrainian military fire. The authorities of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) declared the evacuation of residents in the Russian Federation and requested assistance from Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill on February 21 recognizing the DPR and LPR’s independence and promising to help them. 

On February 24, Russia initiated an effort to safeguard the civilian population of Donbass. 

Before Tuesday’s discussions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that Moscow would persuade Ukraine to drop its NATO membership quest, adopt a neutral status, and demilitarise. 

In a statement that appeared to hint at potential grounds for compromise with Moscow, Zelenskyy told European leaders gathered in London that he understands NATO’s refusal to recognize Ukraine. 

NATO does not accept countries with unresolved territorial disputes. In recent weeks, Zelenskyy has stated that he understands that Ukraine will not be admitted to NATO and may contemplate a neutral status for his nation, but that he needs substantial security guarantees.  

According to the UN, nearly 700 civilians have been confirmed murdered in Ukraine, with the exact amount likely to be significantly higher. 

Around the country, new attempts were ongoing to get citizens to safety and distribute relief. According to the Red Cross, around 70 buses were being used to evacuate residents from the northeastern town of Sumy near the Russian border. 

One of the most terrible circumstances is in Mariupol, a 430,000-strong city in southern Ukraine, where officials say a weeks-long siege has killed over 2,300 people and left residents without food, water, heat, or medication. 

According to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a top advisor to Zelenskyy, 20,000 people were able to depart Mariupol in 4,000 private automobiles along a humanitarian corridor heading to Zaporozhye. 

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