Up to FIVE MILLION refugees will flee Ukraine, EU warns as LANDMINES are discovered along Russian ‘humanitarian corridor’ and Kremlin accuses KYIV of ‘war crimes’ by ‘preventing evacuation’
- Heartbreaking images show civilians trying to flee their homes in Irpin, near Kyiv, via a destroyed bridge
- As many as five million Ukrainian refugees may enter the European Union if Russia’s bombardment continues
- This comes as more than 1.7 million Ukrainians fleeing the invasion have so far crossed into Central Europe
Horrifying photos continue to lay bare the crisis in Ukraine as Russian forces pursue brutal attacks on in the twelfth day since the invasion last month.
Heartbreaking images show civilians trying to flee their homes in Irpin, in the Kyiv region, as loved ones hold onto each other and people offer to help elderly citizens cross makeshift planks amid scenes of destroyed debris.
As many as five million Ukrainian refugees may enter the European Union if Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine continues, the EU’s top diplomat, Joseph Borrell, said.
Residents cross the destroyed bridge as they flee from the frontline town of Irpin, Kyiv region in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion
A woman is assisted by a member of the Ukrainian military as she flees heavy fighting in Irpin via a destroyed bridge as Russian forces entered the city today
This comes as more than 1.7 million Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion have so far crossed into Central Europe, the United Nation’s refugee agency said today, as thousands more streamed across the borders.
Poland – which has the largest Ukrainian community in Central Europe – has received more than 1 million Ukrainian refugees since the conflict began on February 24, with the milestone passed late last night.
‘Today at 20:00 the number of people who escaped from Ukraine to Poland exceeded one million,’ the Polish border guard service tweeted late on Sunday.
‘This is a million human tragedies, a million people banished from their homes by the war.’
A total of 1,735,068 civilians – mostly women and children, as men stayed home to fight – have so far crossed the border into Central Europe, the UNHCR said.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a ‘special operation’.
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.’
Red Cross volunteers working out of Mariupol also revealed that one of the route out of the city suggested by Russia on Sunday was covered in land mines.
Residents cross the destroyed bridge as they flee from the frontline town of Irpin today. The area was a witness to heavy fighting for almost a week
A woman with her cat crosses the destroyed bridge as residents flee from the frontline town of Irpin, Kyiv today, following Russia’s invasion
Meanwhile Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that ‘God will not forgive’ and Ukraine ‘will not forget’ the slaughter of civilians by Russian forces, saying a ‘day of judgement’ is coming for them.
Zelensky, in a late-night address to his countrymen on the Orthodox Christian holiday of ‘Forgiveness Sunday’, recalled how a family of four were among eight civilians killed by Russian mortars while trying to flee the city of Irpin – near Kyiv – earlier in the day. ‘We will not forgive. We will not forget,’ he told listeners.
‘We cannot forgive the hundreds upon hundreds of victims. Nor the thousands upon thousands who have suffered,’ he added. ‘God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never.’
‘Instead of humanitarian corridors, they can only make bloody ones,’ Zelensky said, as Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko added: ‘There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom.’
Shortly after they spoke, columns of smoke were seen rising over the city of Mykolaiv, on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, as Russian forces resumed shelling.
Residents shelter by candle light in the basement of a building in Irpin as Russian forces moved through the city today, on day 12 of the invasion
Women shelter themselves with blankets outside a temporary accommodation and transport hub for refugees at a former shopping mall, after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Przemysl, Poland
The exact number of civilian casualties is unclear, though is estimated by Ukraine to be in the thousands as residential areas of major cities are indiscriminately bombed using thermobaric and cluster munitions amid evidence of ‘hit squads’ targeting civilian vehicles.
The UN has confirmed 406 civilian deaths, though admits the true toll will be higher, and says that that 1.5million people have fled the fighting.
Britain’s Europe Minister James Cleverly said Russia’s latest offer of a ceasefire and an escape route for civilians was ‘cynical beyond belief’.
Refugees from Ukraine arrive at the reception point established at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, today, as the invasion continues
Refugees from Ukraine stay at the reception point established at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, pictured today, following Russia’s invasion
Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency showed that civilians in some areas will only be able to leave towards Russia and Belarus.
Mr Cleverly told BBC Breakfast: ‘It appears cynical beyond belief. There is a view that Vladimir Putin believed there was a widespread desire of Ukrainians to be closer to Russia, to be more Russian. I think that has been proven to be a complete nonsense by the circumstances we are seeing.
‘Providing evacuation routes into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense.’
He added that ‘ultimately the most humanitarian thing the Russians could do is end this completely illegal, completely unjustified invasion of Ukraine’.
Even after the corridors were announced, Russia’s armed forces continued to pummel Ukrainian cities, with multiple rocket launchers hitting residential buildings.
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