Ukraine: FG assures Nigerians of safe evacuation

The Federal Government yesterday assured Nigerians living in Ukraine of their safe evacuation amidst Russia’s multiple attacks on Ukraine.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, gave the assurance while speaking with newsmen in Abuja.

Onyeama said the Federal Government was making arrangements for a special flight operation to evacuate her citizens from Ukraine in view of the escalating tension between that country and Russia.

He added that the Nigerian Embassy in Kiev had been contacted and told to make arrangements for those wishing to return home from other areas including Donestk and Luhensk.

The minister assured Nigerians that the ministry was following the event since it began and assured of the Federal Government’s readiness to speedily ensure the safe evacuation of Nigerians, particularly the students in Ukraine.

The Nation agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Russian military has started attacking military installations in multiple fronts in spite of Russian President Vladimir Putin assurance not to attack Ukrainian citizens.

While Kiev is under bombardment, her citizens are seeking shelter in metro underground stations.

Tens of thousands of people cross the border out of Ukraine, while the European Union expressed readiness to assist with the sum of 1.7 billion euros in economic aid to Ukraine.

Turkish government has also expressed readiness to send humanitarian aid to its Ukrainain counterpart.

‘Putin ‘ready’ for talks with Ukraine’
The Kremlin (Russian government) said yesterday that President Vladimir Putin was ready to send a delegation to Belarus for talks with Ukraine.

This was Russian forces closed in on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on the second day of Moscow’s invasion.

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said yesterday that the Russian leader was “ready” to send a high-level delegation “for talks with a Ukrainian delegation” to Belarusian capital Minsk, which has previously hosted rounds of peace talks over the Ukraine crisis.

He said Putin’s ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, told him that he would “create the conditions” for such a summit.

Russia has thousands of troops stationed in Belarus, and Ukraine said it was being attacked from several sides – including from Belarus.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had repeatedly called for talks with the Russian leader during a weeks-long diplomatic push in which Western countries tried to deter Putin from launching an attack.

Zelenskyy had made an initial proposal of talks in a speech addressed to Putin late on Wednesday, shortly before the Russian invasion.

He said at the time: “Ukraine’s security is linked to the security of its neighbours. That is why today we have to talk about security in the whole of Europe. That is our main goal – peace in Ukraine and the security of our citizens.
For this, we are ready to talk to everyone, including you. In different formats and in any place.”

As Russian troops closed in on Kyiv yesterday, Zelenskyy issued a new statement urging talks.

“I would like to address the President of the Russian Federation once again. Fighting is going on all over Ukraine. Let’s sit down at the negotiating table to stop the deaths of people,” he said.

Kyiv has floated the idea that Ukraine could promise to take a neutral status on NATO membership in order to end the violence.

Putin urges Ukraine army to remove govt
Later yesterday, Putin called on the Ukrainian army to overthrow the government whose leaders he described as “terrorists” and “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”.

Putin also accused “Ukrainian nationalists” of deploying heavy weapons in residential areas of major cities to provoke the Russian military, without providing evidence; a claim that could fuel fears Moscow is creating pretexts for justifying civilian casualties.

In a televised address, he urged the Ukrainian military to “take power in your own hands”.

“It seems like it will be easier for us to agree with you than this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis,” he said, referring to Zelenskyy’s government.

NATO holds emergency summit over crisis
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that U.S. President Joe Biden and his counterparts have agreed to send parts of the organisation’s response force to help protect allies in the east over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking after chairing a NATO meeting, Stoltenberg said the leaders decided to send parts of the NATO Response Force and elements of a quickly deployed spearhead unit.

He did not say how many troops would be deployed, but confirmed that the move would involve land, sea and air power.

The NRF can number up to 40,000 troops, but Stoltenberg said that NATO would not be deploying the entire force.

Parts of a force known in NATO jargon as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is currently led by France, will also be sent.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday released a video of himself and his senior aides in Kyiv to reassure the nation as Russian troops were closing in on the capital.

In the video Zelenskyy recorded in the street outside the presidential office, he said he and his top officials were staying in the capital.

“Our troops are here, citizens are here,” Zelenskyy said, adding that “All of us are here protecting the independence of our country. And it will continue to be this way. Glory to our defenders, Glory to Ukraine, Glory to Heroes.”

Russian troops bore down on Ukraine’s capital yesterday with gunfire and explosions resonating ever closer to the government quarter.

In the fog of war, it was unclear how much of Ukraine remained under Ukrainian control and how much or little Russian forces had seized.

The Nation

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