New York, March 11
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered that so-called volunteer fighters should be brought into Ukraine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia knew of “more than 16,000 applications” from countries in the Middle East, many of them from people who he said helped Russia against the Islamic State group, according to a Kremlin transcript.
They want “to take part in what they consider a liberation movement,” Shoigu said, on the side of Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
Since 2015, Russian forces have been backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against various groups opposed to his rule, including Islamic State. Putin told Shoigu that Russia should help would-be volunteers to “move to the combat zone” and contrasted them with what he called foreign “mercenaries” fighting for Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian authorities announced plans for several evacuation and humanitarian aid delivery routes on Friday, with the support of the Red Cross.
The priority remained freeing people from the besieged city of Mariupol and getting aid to its population.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said authorities were trying again on Friday to send aid into Mariupol and bring evacuees out to the city of Zaporizhzhia. Previous attempts have failed, as aid and rescue convoys were targeted by Russian shelling.
She also announced efforts to create new humanitarian corridors to bring aid to people in areas occupied or under Russian attack. — AP
Lutsk airfield targeted; 2 killed
- Russia widened its military offensive on Friday, striking near airports in the west of the country for the first time
- Satellite photos indicate that its troops, stalled outside Kyiv, are trying to manoeuvre to encircle the city
- Strikes on the western Lutsk airfield killed two Ukrainian servicemen and wounded six others
- In Ivano-Frankivsk, residents were ordered to take shelter after an air raid alert, Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv said
Didn’t develop chemical weapons
I am the President of an adequate country, an adequate nation. And the father of two children. And no chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land. — Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President