The evacuation from the territory of Azovstal metallurgical plant in temporarily besieged Mariupol will begin with the rescue of the seriously wounded, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Iryna Vereschuk said.
"We have started a new round of negotiations regarding the road map of the special operation [for evacuation]. We start with the seriously wounded. There is the Red Cross, they meet with the Russians today. We held negotiations with them [ICRC], as well as with the UN, and gave them a mandate. We want a document to be signed: how exactly the evacuation from Azovstal will take place, we prepare for signing," Vereschuk quoted the words of the press service of the Ministry of Reintegration on the air of the 1 + 1 TV channel.
The minister said that not only the fighters of the Azov battalion, but soldiers and officers of other army units, the National Police and the State Border Guard Service are on the territory of the plant. "We understand that the guys need to be saved!" Vereschuk said.
She added that Turkey will act as a mediator in the current round of negotiations.
Earlier, Vereschuk said that at the moment there are negotiations on the evacuation of only 38 seriously wounded servicemen from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol.
"Now we are negotiating only about 38 seriously wounded (lying) fighters. We are working step by step. We will exchange 38 seriously wounded ones, then we will move on. Now there are no negotiations on the exchange of 500 or 600 people, as reported by some media," Vereschuk wrote in a telegram on Thursday .
The minister also called on politicians, journalists and public figures to refrain from commenting on the content of the negotiations, as they not only misinform and disorientate the society, but also harm the negotiation process.
According to Krym.Realii, leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemilev said that the Turkish authorities had already offered Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to evacuate the Ukrainian military from Azovstal through the port in Berdiansk. By agreement, until the end of the war, these soldiers were to be in Turkey. But head of the Russian Defense Ministry refused such an offer and said that the defenders of Mariupol should surrender.
The Russian side also did not agree to the exchange of Russian prisoners for the defenders of Mariupol. At the same time, Turkey plans to continue negotiations on the rescue of the Ukrainian military from Azovstal, Dzhemilev said.