Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on March 10 in Turkey, in an attempt to broker a 24-hour ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor to the southern port city of Mariupol, encircled by Russian troops.
According to Kuleba, no results were reached since Lavrov didn’t have the mandate to sign any agreements.
“I came here with a humanitarian purpose, to walk out of the meeting with a decision to arrange a humanitarian corridor to and from Mariupol,” Kuleba said, adding that they didn’t reach an agreement with Lavrov.
Kuleba said he is ready to meet again “if there will be prospects to a solution."
Mariupol, a besieged city in Donetsk Oblast, has been in dire conditions and under heavy airstrikes.
Three attempts to evacuate civilians from the city have failed after Russia violated the agreed-upon temporary ceasefire.
Kuleba described the current conditions in Mariupol as “apocalyptic,” and said, a day prior, that there are almost 3,000 newborn babies who lack medicine and food in the city.
“Russia continues to hold more than 400,000 people hostage in Mariupol, blocking humanitarian aid and evacuation,” he said. “Indiscriminate shelling continues.”
For over a week, civilians in Mariupol have been anxiously waiting for news of evacuation efforts as they shelter under bombardment without water, power, or heat.
On March 8, President Volodymyr Zelensky said a six-year-old girl died of dehydration in Mariupol. He added that the exact size of the death toll in the city is unclear.
The city’s deputy mayor Serhiy Orlov said on March 9 that 1,170 civilians had already died in the besieged port city.
Orlov’s comments followed Russia’s attack on a children’s hospital and the maternity hospital nearby. The photos and footage of the destroyed premises have been widely shared by international media. The attack killed three people, including a child, Mariupol City Council reported on March 10.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian troops engaged in bombing civilian targets such as schools, kindergartens and hospitals.
According to the United Nations, over 500 civilians were killed by Russia, since the start of the war. The estimates of Ukraine's State Emergency Service place the civilian death toll at over 2,000.