Kremlin may establish humanitarian corridors to force civilians into Russian territory, says UK

·2-min read
Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Severodonetsk (AFP via Getty Images)
Smoke and dirt rise from the city of Severodonetsk (AFP via Getty Images)

The Kremlin may be using so-called humanitarian corridors to force civilians into Russian-backed territory, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has warned.

It its latest update, the MoD warned Russian forces have precedent in using the routes to funnel civilians into Russian territory, and may do so again as fighting continues in the city of Severodonetsk.

The ministry said this tactic has alreay been used in Ukraine and by Russian forces in Syria.

The update reads: “Since 14 June, Russian and separatist officials have claimed they are attempting to establish humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to evacuate Sieverodonetsk.

“Russia has precedent, both earlier in the Ukraine campaign and in Syria, of using unilaterally-declared ‘humanitarian’ corridors as a mechanism to manipulate the battlespace and impose the forced transfer of populations.”

Ukraianians may have to use these supposed corridors due to the “destructions of bridges” around the city in the east of Ukraine.

“Options to leave the town are limited by the destruction of bridges, but Russia’s proposed route would take them towards the town of Svatova, deeper inside Russian-occupied territory.

“If trapped civilians don’t take up the offer of exiting via a corridor, Russian will likely claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area.”

The United Nations has warned thousands of civilians remain in Severodonetsk. Many have taken shelter in bunkers beneath the city’s Azot chemical plant while the last bridge leading out of the city was destroyed during the week.

The city has been a military target for Russia as it attempts to control the Donbas. This comes after Boris Johnson made a surprise second visit to Ukraine on Friday.

The Prime Minister gave Britain’s support for the hard line against Mr Putin after the war crimes committed by Russian forces and the illegal deportation of Ukrainian civilians from occupied parts of the country.

It came as he announced Britain stood ready to launch a major training operation for Ukrainian forces, with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days.

Speaking at a press conference after meeting with president Volodymyr Zelensky he praised how “life is coming back to the streets” of the Ukrainian capital but warned how in the east of the country “a barbaric assault continues on entirely innocent people”.

“Towns and villages are being reduced to rubble,” he said. “And as you rightly say, Volodymyr, we continue to see the deliberate targeting of civilians - what is unquestionably a war crime.”

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