Putin tells EU to step up pressure on Kiev
Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the EU to put pressure on Ukrainian authorities to “respect humanitarian law” following three failed attempts to evacuate civilians from the country.
In a phone conversation with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on Monday, Putin said that “various kinds of provocations,” including “violence against civilians” by Ukrainian nationalists had so far prevented the people from using the humanitarian corridors. It comes after three temporary ceasefires announced by Russia at the weekend failed to allow civilians to escape.
“The President of Russia called on the European Union to make a real contribution to saving people's lives, to put pressure on the Kiev authorities and force them to respect humanitarian law,” the Kremlin said in a statement following the conversation between the leaders.
Ukraine has accused Russian forces of continuous shelling, which, according to Kiev, makes safe evacuation of people impossible.The Kremlin said Putin told Michel that the Russian military is “taking all possible measures to save the lives of civilians.”
He said the “main threat comes from nationalist formations” which are using the “tactics of terrorists” and using the population as human shields.
Tweeting about the conversation, Michel said he called on Putin “to immediately stop hostilities and ensure humanitarian safe passage and access to assistance.”
He said he also stressed the need to “ensure safety and security of nuclear facilities amidst hostilities in Ukraine,” an apparent reference to the shootout and fire on the Zaporozhskaya nuclear station on March 4, which Kiev and Moscow blamed on each other.
On Sunday, Putin said the “physical and nuclear safety” of the Zaporozhskaya plant is being maintained by Russian troops and Ukrainian personnel.
Earlier on Monday, the Russian ministry of defense said that Kiev “has not fulfilled a single condition for the creation of humanitarian corridors.”
Russia launched its offensive on February 24, saying it was needed to “demilitarize” Ukraine, and to protect Donbass and its own national security. The West considers the attack “unlawful” and “unjustified” and responded by imposing harsh sanctions on Moscow.