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A Ukrainian lawmaker claimed Sunday that Russian forces are forcibly deporting civilians – including children – in the besieged city of Mariupol to Russia.
“They have pulled these people from Mariupol,” Ukrainian Parliament member Yevheniia Kravchuk told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “This is something that can’t be happening in the 21st century.”
The comments came as Kravchuk was providing an update on the humanitarian disaster in Mariupol. She claimed that Russia did not honor a humanitarian corridor that would have allowed civilians to flee the city unharmed.
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“They’re trying to make the forcible deportations to Russian territory from Mariupol. They take people – they even take children that have lost their parents and they are sending them to Vladivostok,” Kravchuk said, referring to the far eastern Russian city some 6,000 miles away. “We do not know how to bring them back to Ukraine.”
Kravchuk said Ukrainians are put through “filtration camps” where Russian troops separate the men in search of Ukrainian soldiers.
“We really hope that with the help of other western leaders, other leaders of (the) civilized world, we will be able to save kids and women who are still in the basement of the massive Azovstal plant.”
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Mariupol has been a key Russian objective since the Feb. 24 invasion began. Capturing the city would allow the establishment of a land corridor from Russia’s border to Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014. It also would deprive Ukraine of a major port and prized industrial assets. The bulk of the neon used in advanced microprocessors, for instance, comes from firms based in Mariupol.
Since the battle for the city began March 1, the Russian military has pummeled Mariupol relentlessly with artillery barrages and air raids, flattening most of the once-bustling city. The indiscriminate bombardment has hit homes, hospitals and other public buildings, killing thousands.
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Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko estimates that at least 21,000 people were killed in Mariupol and another 120,000 people remain in Mariupol out of a prewar population of about 450,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.