News World Claims invading soldiers are forcibly deporting Ukrainians to Russia
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Claims invading soldiers are forcibly deporting Ukrainians to Russia

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Officials in a besieged Ukrainian city say up to 4500 residents have been sent to Russia against their will.

Russia is now attacking Mariupol on land, from the sky and from the sea – with reports that four Russian warships have shelled the city.

Also early on Monday, the city said a bomb struck had struck an art school where about 400 people had been sheltering from the war.

Rescuers were searching for survivors and were yet to confirm the number of casualties.

Mariupol officials also confirmed at least 56 people had died in an attack on a nursing home.

“The besieged Mariupol will go down in the history of responsibility for war crimes,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his overnight speech to the nation.

“The terror the occupiers perpetrated on this peaceful city will be remembered for centuries to come.

“And the more Ukrainians tell the world about it, the more support we find.

“The more Russia uses terror against Ukraine, the worse the consequences will be for it.”

In a separate impassioned speech on Monday morning, Mr Zelensky turned to Israel to ask for missiles.

Russia called on Ukrainian forces to surrender in Mariupol.

“Lay down your arms,” Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Center for Defence Management, said in a briefing distributed by the defence ministry.

“A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed. All who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol.”

Mr Mizintsev said humanitarian corridors would be opened out of Mariupol at 10am on Monday.

The bloodshed in Ukraine continues to drive terrified residents out of the country – with neighbouring nations now hosting nearly 3.5 million refugees.

The Australian government has announced Ukrainians can apply for refuge – and work, study, and access Medicare – for three years under a temporary humanitarian visa.

So far 4500 Ukrainians have applied and 600 have arrived in Australia.

On Sunday the Morrison government committed to providing more military support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as well as another $30 million in humanitarian aid. 

Here’s the latest news out of Ukraine.

Forced deportations

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko compared Russia’s actions to that of Nazis.

“What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people,” Mr Boychenko said.

“It is hard to imagine that in the 21st century people will be forcibly deported to another country.”

Up to 4500 people may have been taken across the Russian border by forces loyal to Moscow, Pyotr Andryuschenko, an adviser to the mayor, told the The New York Times in an interview.

Russian news agencies have said buses carried several hundred people Moscow calls refugees from Mariupol to Russia in recent days.

Ukrainian evacuees told the Times they had heard from other locals who had been confronted by Russian soldiers in bunkers where families were sheltering.

Eduard Zarubin, a doctor who left the city last week, said his friends told him soldiers had fired guns and told them to get out of their basements.

Mr Zarubin said his friends reported being taken to Taganrog in southwestern Russia.

“Now the Russians are walking through the basements, and if there are people left there, they forcibly take them,” he told the Times.

Mariupol residents have reportedly been taken 100 kilometres away to this Russian city, Taganrog. Photo: Wikipedia

American ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said accounts of residents being forcibly deported to Russia are “disturbing” and “unconscionable” if true.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” early Monday morning, Ms Thomas-Greenfield said the United States had not yet confirmed the allegations made on Saturday by the Mariupol city council via its Telegram channel.

“I’ve only heard it. I can’t confirm it,” she said.

“But I can say it is disturbing.

“It is unconscionable for Russia to force Ukrainian citizens into Russia and put them in what will basically be concentration and prisoner camps.”

‘We must prevent full-fledged war’

Mr Zelensky has called for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow.

The United States supports those attempts, Ms Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that the negotiations “seem to be one-sided,” with little response from Russia.

Poland will formally submit a proposal for a peace-keeping mission in Ukraine at the next summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday.

When asked about the Polish proposal, Ms Thomas-Greenfield reiterated President Joe Biden’s commitment to refrain from sending US troops into Ukraine.

“Other NATO countries may decide that they want to put troops inside of Ukraine,” she said.

“That will be a decision that they have to make.”

Turkey is also attempting to mediate a ceasefire in Ukraine, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised during an interview on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Turkey is doing some real effort to try to facilitate, support talks between Russia and Ukraine,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

“It’s far too early to say whether these talks can lead to any concrete outcome.”

When asked whether a no-fly zone would be considered if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraine, Mr Stoltenberg reiterated concerns that such a step could escalate the conflict.

“Our allies support Ukraine,” he said.

“But at the same time it is extremely important we prevent this conflict from becoming a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia that will cause much more damage, much more death, destruction than what we are seeing now in Ukraine.”

Volodymyr Zelensky appeals to Israel

The Ukrainian president said that Israel would have to live with the choices it makes on whether to help protect Ukraine against the Russian invasion, addressing the Knesset via video link.

Drawing comparisons between the Russian offensive and the “final solution” – the plan by Nazi Germany to exterminate Jews – Mr Zelensky questioned Israel’s reluctance to sell the Iron Dome defence system to Ukraine.

“Everybody knows that your missile defence systems are the best… and that you can definitely help our people, save the lives of Ukrainians, of Ukrainian Jews,” he said on Monday morning.

“We can ask why we can’t receive weapons from you, why Israel has not imposed powerful sanctions on Russia or is not putting pressure on Russian business.

“Either way, the choice is yours to make, brothers and sisters, and you must then live with your answer, the people of Israel.”

Mariupol residents have fled to Lviv. Photo: AAP

Refugee camps reaching limits

Officials in Central Europe have voiced concern that they are reaching capacity to comfortably house some of the nearly 3.5 million refugees who have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion and are now camped in temporary accommodation.

Most of the Ukrainians have arrived at border points in Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, data compiled by the UN refugee agency shows, putting pressure on the European Union countries now attempting to shelter them.

Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said the government would seek to extend a state of emergency to deal with the influx, with officials trying to relocate new arrivals to cities outside the capital Prague to ease the pressure.

“The Czech Republic is balancing on the edge of capacities where we are able to provide comfortable living conditions,” Mr Rakusan said during a television debate.

“Living in gyms, sleeping bags, or campsites is not good for life.”

The Czech parliament also approved three laws this week making it easier for Ukrainian refugees to access to work, health insurance, and allow schools to raise class capacities.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said seven humanitarian corridors would open on Sunday to enable civilians to leave frontline areas.

In Poland, whose Ukrainian community of around 1.5 million is the region’s largest, refugees waited in line for a third day in front of the National Stadium temporarily turned into an administration office to register new arrivals.

More than two million Ukrainians have crossed into Poland since the invasion by Russia.

Warsaw officials said this has increased the Polish capital’s population of 1.8 million by 17 per cent.

“We never know how many refugees will arrive,” Warsaw city council spokeswoman Monika Beuth-Lutyk said.

“We have done everything we can and the next move is up to the government to implement a system and to build refugee towns.”

At the Medyka crossing, Poland’s busiest along the country’s some 500-km border with Ukraine, aid groups were preparing for a surge of refugees if humanitarian corridors allowed Ukrainians in areas under siege to escape.

An International Organization for Migration spokesman said that thousands of people have crossed daily at Medyka alone.

“We don’t know how many people and we don’t know when they will arrive,” the group’s spokesman Jorge Galindo told Reuters.

With men of conscription age obliged to stay and help defend Ukraine, mostly women and children have entered the EU.

Newly arriving refugees described panic during their escapes that included shelling and shooting overhead by Russian forces as they fled their cities and began long journeys to safety.

“Rockets started to fly,” said Natalia Strelcova, who entered Poland with her cat after fleeing the Dnipro region.

“It becomes scary, panic starts, and you want to run away somewhere,” she added.

-with AAP