Operation concludes to get Greek nationals out of Ukraine: Foreign Ministry
Government spokesman says Greece ‘consular authorities are in constant contact with the Greek element’
An operation to evacuate Greek nationals, diplomats and journalists from Mariupol in Ukraine successfully concluded Friday, according to the Greek Foreign Ministry.
“The convoy, headed by Ambassador Fragiskos Kostellenos, which started three days ago from Mariupol, under extremely difficult conditions, has successfully crossed the Ukrainian-Moldovan border,” it said in a statement.
The convoy had 21 cars and 82 people, amongst them several citizens that requested to leave Ukraine.
“The Consul General Manolis Androulakis remains at the Consulate in Mariupol, which is still open,” it added.
The trip began early Wednesday from Zaporizhzhia under adverse conditions. The convoy at some point came under fire without knowing where the attack originated, according to local reports.
Reports on Skai TV said the gunfire resulted in a punctured tire leaving the group shaken.
Russia's war on Ukraine, which began Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage, with the EU, US and the UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.
More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.
Greek government spokesperson Yiannis Economou said Friday that “the Greeks of Mariupol are in the heart of the war zone, in very difficult conditions, and Greece stands ready to provide assistance anytime.”
"Our consulate there is still operating, the ambassador is also returning to the region. Our consular authorities are in constant contact with the Greek element. The Foreign Ministry daily communicates with our consular authorities there," he said.
Economou ruled out the possibility of any Greek military activity in the war.
About 120,000 ethnic Greeks live in Mariupol, while last week at least 10 were confirmed dead and several injured from Russian bombs and airstrikes.