Red Cross chief to visit Russia to discuss increasing access to Ukrainian POWs

2 September, 12:31 PM
ICRC General Director Robert Mardini (Photo:REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo)

ICRC General Director Robert Mardini (Photo:REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo)

Robert Mardini, Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), plans tovisit Russia and discuss expanding access of the organization’s employees to Ukrainian prisoners of war, he said in an interview with the Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Sept. 2.

Mardini is in Ukraine now and has already met with the families of Ukrainian POWs, the Ukrainian news agency reported.

Mardini said he plans to visit Russia in about two weeks.

“I will ask about the possibility of meeting with officials,” he said.

“I intend to discuss humanitarian issues, including access to prisoners of war... Believe me, all of them (families of POWs) are waiting for news about their relatives with great anxiety.”

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The ICRC chief added that he plans to demand greater access to Ukrainian soldiers who are in captivity, as well as greater humanitarian access in the temporarily occupied territories.

Mardini previously said the ICRC had managed to visit only a few hundred prisoners of war from both sides.

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, on Aug. 30 passed an appeal to the international community to condemn the mass murder of Ukrainian POWs by the Russian invaders in the prison colony in Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, on July 29.

The Association of the Families of the Defenders of the Azovstal Steelworks on Aug. 8 called on the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations to prevent show trials of the Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol being staged by Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on June 6 that more than 2,500 defenders of Mariupol from the Azovstal Steelworks were in Russian captivity. According to the Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda, 2,449 defenders surrendered and left Azovstal, the majority of whom were being held in Russian-occupied Olenivka.

Ukraine and Russia held a large-scale exchange of prisoners on June 29, during which 144 Ukrainian defenders were returned home. Among them were 95 defenders of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, including 43 servicemen of the Azov Regiment.

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