British media, I, reported on the camp on Sunday, citing satellite images released by Planet Labs. The images of Bezimenne, a Russian-held town less than an hour’s drive from Mariupol, were taken on Tuesday and provided to The Post by Maxar Technologies.
Leaders of a breakaway zone in the Donetsk region announced via their Telegram channel on Wednesday that together with Russian authorities, they had set up a “tent city of 30 tents” for residents of Mariupol, can accommodate up to 450 people.
An accompanying video geolocated by La Poste shows the structures.
The people interviewed in the video say they had recently arrived from Mariupol.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry said the tent city of Bezimenne was a “vital” town for refugees from Mariupol. Russia is operating “like a humanitarian aid convoy,” Sergey Golova, a ministry official, said in the video released Wednesday. Russian forces were providing residents with “all necessities”, such as mobile phones and medical aid, he said.
Ukrainian leaders last week accused Russian forces of forcibly moving hundreds of thousands of civilians into Russia against their will. Moscow said the refugees voluntarily fled east during the war. Ukraine has opposed any evacuation route for civilians to Russia or its ally Belarus.
What is happening in Mariupol, the Ukrainian city besieged by Russia?
The Russian Defense Ministry shared messages almost daily about its selected evacuation routes for Ukrainian civilians trapped in cities. Mariupol – which Russian forces attacked for more than three weeks – was one of the first towns to receive a proposed route, taking residents east through separatist-held territory to Rostov-on- Gift in Russia.
The 100-mile journey followed a highway parallel to the Sea of Azov coast, passing Bezimenne and the Russian city of Taganrog, where Russian authorities said other camps for Mariupol residents had been established. .
The UN refugee agency estimates around 270,000 Ukrainians have gone to Russia in the month since the Kremlin began its invasion of Ukraine. Last week, Ukrainian and Russian leaders gave totals closer to 400,000, while differing on the reason for the migration.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry and parliament said the Russian military forcibly “evicted” Ukrainian citizens, including thousands of residents of Mariupol, the devastated port city. The ministry warned against Russia confiscating passports and suggested the Kremlin wants hostages for political leverage.
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In a statement on Sunday, the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights committee said Mariupol residents had been taken to “filtration camps” for inspection of their phones and personal documents. Then, the committee said, “some residents of Mariupol were redirected to some remote towns in Russia, while the fate of others remains unknown.”
Russian officials have criticized Ukraine’s refusal to support evacuations to Russia and said they were helping a wave of refugees – many of whom came from the eastern region of Donbass, where pro-Russian separatists controlled some territory before the start of the invasion.
Just before last month’s invasion, US officials told the United Nations they had credible information that the Kremlin was compiling lists of Ukrainians “to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation”, a claim that Russia has denied.
Sarah Cahlan and Arkady Dolina contributed to this report.