Dendias contacts Red Cross chief to organise humanitarian aid to Mariupol

An Ukrainian soldier takes a photograph of a damaged church after shelling in a residential district in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 10, 2022. (AP Photo) Dendias

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has contacted the chief of the Red Cross regarding his intentions to lead a humanitarian aid convoy to the Greek-founded city of Mariupol, which is currently being contested by Russian and Ukrainian forces.

"I contacted the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, who is in Moscow, regarding the creation of corridors for the provision of humanitarian aid in Mariupol," Dendias said on Twitter.

Dendias announced on Tuesday his intentions to accompany a humanitarian mission to the besieged port city.

The announcement was made after his meeting with the Greek Consul General in Mariupol, Manolis Androulakis, who returned to Greece on Sunday.

“I am requesting today in an official note sent to the Ukrainian side that it facilitate and another note to the Russian side not to hinder the sending of humanitarian aid to Mariupol,” Dendias said.

“I intend to accompany this mission in person, in coordination with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Mauer, with whom we are already in contact,” the Greek Foreign Minister added.

“Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine continues unabated. The priority of the Greek government is the protection of our expatriates, but also of the civilian population,” he said.

Therefore, he also announced that a coordination and reception group will be set up in Bucharest, headed by Fragiskos Kostelenos with the participation of the Ambassador to Bucharest, Sofia Grammata, Odessa’s Consul General Dimitris Dochtsis and Manolis Androulakis, who will depart soon.

Almost 100,000 people are trapped by Russian bombardment and facing starvation in the ruins of Mariupol, Ukraine’s leader said, as Moscow accused Washington of undermining peace talks.

Tens of thousands of residents have already fled the besieged southern port city, bringing harrowing testimony of a “freezing hellscape riddled with dead bodies and destroyed buildings”, according to Human Rights Watch.

As the UN demanded Russia end its “absurd” and “unwinnable” war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Japan on Wednesday to ramp up pressure on Russia with a trade embargo, making an unprecedented direct appeal to parliament that invoked the two nations’ shared experience of nuclear disaster.

“An embargo on trade with Russia is necessary,” said Zelensky, who wore a zipped-up military jacket. “It is necessary to remove companies from the Russian market so that money does not go to the Russian army.”

Russia meanwhile refuses to rule out using nuclear weapons if it were facing an “existential threat”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.

It is recalled that Mariupol and its surrounding villages, including Sartana, are home to an ethnic Greek community numbering 120,000 individuals.

Zelensky, speaking Tuesday in his nightly video address to his nation, accused Russian forces of blocking the aid convoy despite agreeing to the route ahead of time.

“We are trying to organise stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents, but almost all of our attempts, unfortunately, are foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling or deliberate terror,” Zelensky said.

Elsewhere, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reiterated that his country will not support a no-fly zone over Ukraine or send troops to intervene in the war launched by Russia.

Scholz told German lawmakers on Wednesday that “NATO will not become a party to the war. We are in agreement on this with our European allies and the United States.”

Still, the German leader said Ukraine could rely on Germany’s help, citing the financial and military aid already provided, the harsh sanctions on Russia and the reception of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Scholz said Germany would not support a boycott of Russian oil, coal and gas, but is seeking to wean itself off those imports by seeking out other suppliers and ramping up the use of renewable energy.

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