ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday that he wants to lead a humanitarian mission into the besieged city of Mariupol in Ukraine where thousands of ethnic Greeks live.
Ukraine appealed to Russia on Tuesday to allow humanitarian supplies into Mariupol and to let civilians out of the city, which President Volodymr Zelenskiy said had been devastated by Russian bombardments.
Russia denies targeting civilians and blames Ukraine for the repeated failure to establish safe passage for civilians out of Mariupol. Ukraine defied an ultimatum for the city to surrender by dawn on Monday as a condition for Russian forces to let civilians leave safely.
Dendias said that Greece’s priority was to protect unarmed civilians and ethnic Greeks living in Mariupol, adding that he has already notified Ukrainian and Russian authorities over the humanitarian mission.
“I intend to lead this assistance in person,” he said in statements made to the press after meeting Greece’s consul general in Mariupol, Manolis Androulakis, the last EU diplomat to leave the besieged Ukrainian port this week.
Dendias said that he was coordinating with the Red Cross.
Mariupol, a city of more than 400,000 before the war, has historically had a sizeable population of ethnic Greeks.
At least 10 ethnic Greeks have been killed and several have been wounded since Russia started attacking Mariupol. More than 150 Greek citizens, vessel crews and ethnic Greeks have been evacuated from the region, according to the Greek government.
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Alex Richardson)