Macron says France will lead operation to evacuate Mariupol – POLITICO

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that France would join Turkey and Greece in leading an “extraordinary humanitarian operation” to evacuate the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under siege by Russian armed forces for three weeks.

“We will launch a humanitarian operation together with Turkey and Greece to evacuate everyone who wants 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 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 it Mariupol operation with Russian President Vladimir Putin “Within 48 to 72 hours.”

“I hope to involve a maximum of stakeholders 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 residents of Mariupol who are going through one of the greatest dramas,” Macron said. “This city of more than 400,000 people today has only 150,000 living there in dramatic situations.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed on Friday that the operation is 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 to the coverage. Macron says France will lead operation to evacuate Mariupol - POLITICO

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