Russian forces are trying to forcibly deport tens of thousands of civilians from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol to Russia, according to a Ukrainian lawmaker, who claimed Sunday that men from the city are being separated from their families in “filtration” camps.
“They have pulled these people from Mariupol,” Ukrainian Parliament member Yevheniia Kravchuk said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” claiming that civilians are being brought to filtration camps, where men are being separated out by Russian forces in search of Ukrainian soldiers who may be trying to hid among the civilians.
“[This] can’t be happening in the 21st century,” Ms. Kravchuck said, adding that Ukrainian officials “hope that maybe with help of other Western leaders … we will be able to take out the kids and women who are still in the basements … in Mariupol.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week that some 120,000 civilians are trapped in Mariupol. The city has become a main target of Russia’s revised war plan aimed at controlling territory between the Russian border to the north and the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow seized from Ukraine back in 2014.
Mariupol is situated in the midst of that territory along the Sea of Azov, and Russian forces have for weeks blocked the establishment of a sustainable humanitarian aid corridor into the city, while also preventing civilians from evacuating to the western parts of Ukraine controlled by the Ukrainian military.
On Sunday, Ms. Kravchuck separately claimed that Russian forces continue to target civilians in other cities, including in the coastal Ukrainian city of Odesa, which is situated to the west of Mariupol and the Crimean Peninsula.
Right now Russians are putting artillery, tanks, everything they have … to terrorize the whole country,” she said. “I mean, they bombed Odessa which is a southern city on the Black Sea yesterday with missiles and the missile clearly targeted the house — the building where civilians were at, killing [a] 3-months-old child.”
Moscow has denied that civilians are being targeted by Russian forces in Ukraine, where the Russian military operation is now in its third month.