Kyiv (The Times Groupe)- The evacuation of 38 seriously injured Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol city is moving very slowly between Ukraine and Russia, a senior Ukrainian official said on Thursday.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said that statements spread by politicians and journalists about the content of the negotiations misinformed the public, as well as negatively affected the negotiation process.
“People’s lives are at stake. Please refrain from public comments about things you don’t know,” Vereshchuk said.
The current negotiations are only meant to free 38 gravely wounded soldiers trapped in the steel mill.
“We are working step by step. Right now, we will exchange 38 seriously wounded soldiers, and then continue. However, there are no negotiations ongoing regarding the exchange of 500 or 600 people, as some media outlets have reported,” she added.
Previously, Ukraine had offered to exchange wounded Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal for captured Russian troops.
Since Russia launched its war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than 3,500 civilians have been killed and 3,760 injured, according to the UN. The actual death toll is likely higher.
UNHCR estimates that about 6 million people have fled to other countries and 7.7 million are internally displaced.