Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected on Tuesday the initiative by Greece, France and Turkey to send a humanitarian mission to the besieged city of Mariupol in Ukraine.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said that the operation was not possible “at this stage,” after a telephone conversation with Putin.
Putin insists on the surrender of Ukraine forces in Mariupol
The one-hour-long call ended without a conclusion, his office said. Putin reportedly told Macron that Ukrainian forces fighting in Mariupol would have to surrender before humanitarian aid could be dispatched.
Last week, Macron said that France was ready to lead a humanitarian operation along with Greece and Turkey. “There was a concrete discussion today with the Mayor of Mariupol. We are coordinating and we will then negotiate with the Russians,” Macron told reporters after an EU summit in Brussels on Friday.
Greek government sources said that Macron discussed the initiative with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the margins of the EU Summit. Greece has a special interest in Mariupol as tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks live in the area.
Prior to the meeting, at the NATO leaders’ meeting, Mitsotakis had referred to the tragedy taking place in Mariupol, which he said has been “almost wiped off the map”.
Greece’s FM Dendias offered to accompany the mission to Mariupol
Earlier in March Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that he intends to accompany a humanitarian mission to Mariupol.
“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. 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,” Dendias noted.
Thousands of civilians may have died in Mariupol since the bombing began four weeks ago, the head of the UN human rights mission told Reuters Tuesday.