‘God will not forgive’: Zelenskyy condemns Russian slaughter of civilians fleeing Ukraine

7 March 2022, 10:06 | Updated: 7 March 2022, 10:22

Civilians gather to try and leave from Kharkiv’s station (left). Women and children were killed as they tried to flee Irpin
Civilians gather to try and leave from Kharkiv’s station (left). Women and children were killed as they tried to flee Irpin. Picture: Twitter/Getty

By Megan Hinton

The Ukrainian president has warned he "will not forgive" Putin after a second attempt to evacuate residents from a besieged city failed due to continued Russian shelling.

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Multiple civilians were killed as they desperately tried to flee to safety, despite a scheduled Russian ceasefire.

"We will not forgive the destroyed houses," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video address on Sunday.

"We will not forgive the missile that our air defence shot down over Okhmatdyt today.

"And more than five hundred other such missiles that hit our land in Ukraine, our people, our children.

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"We will not forgive the shooting of unarmed people. Destruction of our infrastructure.

"We will not forgive. Hundreds and hundreds of victims. Thousands and thousands suffering.

"And God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never.

"And instead of forgiveness, there will be a day of judgement."

Hours after his comments, a picture emerged showing thousands of desperate civilians trying to flee Kharkiv. The image, shared widely online showed the packed platform at the city's train station. It has come under intense Russian attack and there have been multiple civilian casualties.

There are reports a third ceasefire will be held on Monday to allow civilians to escape several Ukrainian cities.

The humanitarian corridors are being opened at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron, according to the Interfax news agency.

But on Sunday a second attempt of evacuations from the port city of Mariupol were halted after a barrage of attacks from Russian troops.

Horror pictures showed men, women and children coming under fire as they desperately tried to flee to safety.

In one attack on Irpin, a town 12 miles from the capital of Kyiv, at least three members of the same family were killed.

Beside them lay small suitcases and a pet carried, all packed ahead of what they hoped would be a journey to safety.

Officials said this afternoon: "For the second day in a row, a ceasefire agreement to enable the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol failed.

"The ceasefire was scheduled between 10am and 9pm local time, but the agreement was violated within hours of its planned implementation."

Whilst Interior ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko added: "There can be no 'green corridors' because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom."

Read more: Zelenskyy urges Russian people to stand up to Putin and 'overcome evil'

Read more: Russia shells nuclear reactor in Kharkiv amid warnings of 'large-scale disaster'

The UK Ministry of Defence said the proposed ceasefire was likely an attempt from Russia to diminish responsibility for civilian casualties caused by continued Russian strikes on the city.

On Sunday The International Atomic Energy Agency warned that Russian forces are tightening their grip on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear station, Ukraine's largest, that they seized last week.

The director general of the agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said on Sunday that Ukrainian staff members are now required to seek approval for any operation, even maintenance, from the Russians, and that they have impeded normal communications by switching off some mobile networks and internet at the site.

Ukraine's regulatory authority said that phone lines, as well as emails and fax, are no longer working.

Mr Grossi said he is "extremely concerned about these developments", adding that for the station to operate safely, "staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions, without undue external interference or pressure".

Whilst Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also revealed that Russian rockets had completely destroyed an airport in the city of Vinnytsia, about 160 miles southwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

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It comes as the UK Government is set to pump an extra £74 million into Ukraine to support the country's "indomitable people" through the humanitarian crisis being faced on the ground.

Boris Johnson is due to begin a week of what Downing Street called "focused engagement" with world leaders on Monday, as he tries to get his global counterparts to back his six-point plan to tackle Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The prime ministers of Canada and the Netherlands will visit London and accompany Mr Johnson on a visit to an RAF base to meet members of the UK armed forces.

The three leaders will have separate bilateral meetings and a joint trilateral meeting, where it is expected the Prime Minister will continue to press for sustained support for Ukraine.

The trio will then hold a joint press conference at Downing Street.

It comes as the UK has allocated a further $100 million - or £74 million - to the Ukrainian government's budget.

Read more: Ceasefire ends: Mariupol evacuation halted for second time as Russia 'shells civilians'

Read more: More than 1.5m people flee Ukraine in fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since WWII

The aid, provided through the world bank, could go towards supporting public sector salaries, allowing vital state functions to keep operating, or supporting social safety nets and pensions for the Ukrainian people.

Mr Johnson said: "In the time since Russia's illegal and brutal assault, we have seen the world stand up tall in solidarity with the indomitable people of Ukraine.

"UK aid is already reaching those who need it most, delivering essential supplies and medical support.

"While only Putin can fully end the suffering in Ukraine, today's new funding will continue to help those facing the deteriorating humanitarian situation."

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