Shelling blocks Ukrainian evacuation routes; Poland jets to shift to Ukraine
Ukrainian officials said Russian shelling again made it impossible for civilians to use evacuation corridors on Tuesday despite a deal reached a day earlier.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the evacuation from the southern port of Mariupol failed Tuesday because the Russian troops fired on a Ukrainian convoy carrying humanitarian cargo to Mariupol that was to carry civilians from the city on its way back. She said the city was in a “catastrophic situation” cut from water, power and communications, adding that a child in Mariupol has died of dehydration.
The Russian military alleges that Ukraine only has allowed civilians to use one corridor from the city of Sumy and blocked other routes from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Tuesday that the Russian military has announced it will stop firing at 10 a.m. Wednesday to let civilians leave safely via the corridors.
Vereshchuk reaffirmed that Ukraine will not accept Moscow’s offer to establish safe corridors for civilians to head toward Russia, saying it will only agree to safe exits leading westward.
Authorities evacuated 5,000 people from the eastern city of Sumy on Tuesday, Vereshchuk said.
Poland agrees to jet deal
Poland said it would give all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S., apparently agreeing to an arrangement that would allow them to be used by Ukraine’s military. Ukraine has pleaded for more warplanes.
The decision came Tuesday as Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Ukraine with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era fighter jets.
The Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Poland is ready to deliver the jets to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
“At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities,” it said.
Dutch missles may go to Slovakia
The Dutch defense ministry says it is working with Germany to station Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Slovakia at the request of NATO.
Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said Tuesday that the Dutch ruling coalition agrees “in principle” to the deployment on the alliance’s eastern flank as a defensive measure.
Ollongren says that some 150-200 Dutch troops will head east with the missile system as soon as the Cabinet gives formal approval. The defense ministry said the missiles can take down airplanes, helicopters and cruise missiles up to an altitude of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
The Dutch military’s Patriot systems have previously seen service in both Gulf wars and were stationed in southern Turkey from 2013-2015 to intercept missiles from Syria.
Germany announced late last month that it planned to send Patriots to Slovakia.