Russian President Vladimir Putin held detailed talks on the humanitarian aspects of the Ukrainian crisis in a phone call with European Council President Charles Michel, the Kremlin said Monday.
Putin told Michel that the Russian military is taking “all possible measures” to save the lives of civilians, who are being used by Ukrainian armed nationalists as human shields.
“The Russian president called on the European Union to make a real contribution to saving people’s lives, put pressure on the Kyiv authorities and force them to respect humanitarian law,” the statement said.
In a separate call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Putin informed him that the Russian Armed Forces had declared a cease-fire and opened humanitarian corridors in view of the worsening humanitarian situation, said another Kremlin statement.
“Meanwhile, nationalist formations continue to create obstacles to the peaceful evacuation of civilians, including foreign nationals, from the combat areas by resorting to crude force and various provocations,” it noted.
The Russian leader then drew attention to the fact that Indian students “who were held hostage by radicals in Kharkov” managed to leave the city only after strong international pressure was exerted on Kyiv.
“Russian military personnel are doing their best to evacuate Indian citizens from Sumy. Narendra Modi expressed gratitude to the Russian side for the efforts being taken to return his compatriots home,” the statement said.
Putin, at the request of the Indian prime minister, gave an assessment of the Russian delegation’s series of discussions with Ukrainian representatives, the third round of which was scheduled for today, it said.
Modi “expressed readiness to render any assistance possible to achieve an early resolution of the conflict,” it added.
Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia. The West has also imposed biting export restrictions on key technologies that are now prohibited from being sent to Russia.
At least 406 civilians have been killed and 801 others injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to UN figures. But the international body has maintained that conditions on the ground have made it “difficult to verify” the true number of civilian casualties.
More than 1.7 million people have also fled to neighboring countries, the UN Refugee Agency said.