The city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, the epicenter of the Greek presence in the country, is under heavy bombardment from the Russian forces on Thursday.
Greece also underlined on Thursday the need for the protection of the Greek community in Ukraine. A government spokesman said that Greece will stand by them.
There are more than 100,000 Greeks living in the wider region of the Ukrainian city. Amateur footage shared on Twitter shows that rockets have hit installations at Mariupol as Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine.
🇺🇦⚡MARIOPOL IS UNDER ROCKET FIRE
— Lisa M. (@T900) February 24, 2022
Wait what is that? pic.twitter.com/5UulmnV1ZM
— LEF (@FarmerofEU) February 24, 2022
Earlier in February, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged its citizens to leave Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion, joining many nations around the globe that have already withdrawn citizens and diplomatic staff.
Mariopol kentinde şiddetli patlamalar yaşanıyor
— Cumhuriyet (@cumhuriyetgzt) February 24, 2022
Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexandros Papaioannou sent the message that respect for international law, including the Law of the Sea, prohibiting the threat of the use of force against the territorial integrity and independence of any country, along with respect for national sovereignty, are fundamental principles of Greek foreign policy, during a press briefing on Wednesday.
He reiterated that, regarding Russia’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, Greece believes this is a flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law, of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the Minsk agreements.
Papaioannou underlined the need for the protection of the Greek community in Ukraine, noting that Greece will stand by them. “Not only have we have not abandoned the Greek community but, in light of the new developments, we have sent two additional diplomats,” he said, saying that they were sent to the Greek Consulate in Mariupol to offer assistance to the Greek community.
He also underlined that Greece is the only country that currently has an open Consulate in Mariupol, adding that Greece is not going to suspend its operation.
Replying to a question on whether there is a plan for the safety of the Greeks in Mariupol, he repeated the Greek foreign ministry’s advice to Greek citizens to avoid traveling to Ukraine and urged Greeks that need assistance in departing from Ukraine to contact the Greek Consulate in Ukraine.
He noted, however, that the number of persons that want to leave Ukraine is very small. “The vast majority have not expressed the intention to abandon their homes.”
Asked to clarify whether they are Greek citizens or residents of Greek descent, he said that “at this moment we are speaking about Greek citizens or Greek passport holders or holders of a person of Greek descent identity card.”