Macron says France will spearhead Mariupol evacuation operation – POLITICO

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that France would carry out an “exceptional humanitarian operation” alongside Turkey and Greece to evacuate the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been besieged by Russian forces for three weeks.

“We will launch a humanitarian operation in collaboration with Turkey and Greece to evacuate all those who wish to leave Mariupol,” Macron told reporters after a two-day European Council summit.

Macron gave few details but said the operation would take place “the sooner the better” and would be carried out “in coordination” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian authorities. The French leader also said he was in contact with the mayor of Mariupol.

The French leader also said he would discuss the Operation Mariupol with Russian President Vladimir Putin “within 48 to 72 hours”.

“I hope to be able to engage as many actors as possible in this operation,” Macron said.

More than 100,000 people remain stranded in Mariupol, which is under near-continuous bombardment by Russian forces.

“I have a very special thought for the inhabitants of Mariupol who are going through one of the greatest tragedies”, declared Emmanuel Macron. “This city of more than 400,000 inhabitants today only has 150,000 who live there in dramatic situations.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed on Friday that the operation was under discussion. He added that the Ukrainian city, home to a large Greek community, “is being tested by an unprecedented Russian attack which, unfortunately, makes no distinction between Ukrainian troops and civilians.”

Nektaria Stamouli contributed reporting.

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