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Turkey offers sea evacuation for Ukrainian fighters who are wounded

President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Saturday that Turkey has proposed a sea evacuation of wounded fighters holed up in a steel plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.


In an interview with Reuters, Ibrahim Kalin said he discussed the issue with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv two weeks ago and that it is still ‘on the table,’ despite Moscow’s refusal.


People evacuated from the massive Azovstal steel plant would be transported by land to Berdyansk, which, like Mariupol, is on the Sea of Azov, where a Turkish vessel would transport them over the Black Sea to Istanbul, according to the plan.


‘We are happy to do it that way if it is possible. We are prepared. Indeed, our ship is prepared to transport injured soldiers and civilians to Turkey,’ Erdogan’s top foreign policy adviser, Kalin, agreed.


The potential of a maritime evacuation was not immediately addressed by Ukraine and Russia.


Mariupol is in Russian hands after weeks of siege and bombing, but hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are holding out at the steel works under heavy fire.


With the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, a number of civilians who were sheltering in the plant were evacuated this month. The Turkish proposal included removing the remaining civilians.


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