Amir Abdollahian emphasizes safe exodus of Iranian residents in Ukraine

February 26, 2022 - 21:10

TEHRAN— Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian continued his telephone consultations on Friday with foreign ministers of certain countries neighboring Ukraine.

In a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Amir Abdollahian said that the Iran is seriously working on the safe exit of its nationals from Ukraine.

“Providing the security and safety of the Iranian expatriates in Ukraine are our priority,” the foreign minister said.

The top diplomat also touched on the developments in Ukraine and the presence of Iranian nationals in that country, and expressed the hope that the ongoing crisis will be settled through political talks.

For his part, the Russian foreign minister elaborated on Moscow's stance vis-a-vis the Ukraine crisis. Criticizing the Western countries' approach toward the Ukraine issue, Lavrov gave assurances to Amir Abdollahian that Russia will seriously take into consideration the safety of foreign nationals, including Iranians.

Amir Abdollahian consults with Slovak FM for visa-free entry of Iranians stranded in Ukraine

In follow-up to the Ukraine crisis, Amir Abdollahian also held talks with Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok about the situation of Iranians in Ukraine as well as issues of mutual concern. 

Referring to the good relations between the two countries and their favorable cooperation in various fields, Amir Abdollahian said, “We are ready to expand ties between the two countries in all fields.”

Regarding the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, Amir Abdollahian said, “We hope that this crisis will be resolved politically and peacefully.”

The top diplomat added that a group of Iranian citizens residing in Ukraine have applied to leave the country and called on the Slovak government to provide assistance to

Iranian citizens so that they can leave Ukraine for Slovakia without a need for visa.

Amir Abdollahian said his country plans to airlift its citizens to Iran after entering countries neighbor to Ukraine, including Slovakia. 

For his part, Slovakia’s foreign minister expressed pleasure with the development of cooperation between the two countries at various levels and fields, announcing the holding of the joint economic commission of the two countries in the near future, which was welcomed by Amir Abdollahian.

Korcok further welcomed the proposal of the Iranian foreign minister, saying Slovakia is ready to cooperate and assist Iranian citizens to leave Ukraine through the Slovak border visa free.

He stressed that Iranian nationals can enter Slovakia via Ukraine’s border and then travel to Iran.

Ukraine war rages for third day

The escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine raged for the third day as the capital Kyiv faced a barrage of explosions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy rued being "left alone" by the West and announced readiness to declare neutrality.

As violent fighting raged on the edges of the capital as Russia's military advanced deep into Ukraine.

According to Russia's defense ministry, forces took Zmiinyi Island in the Black Sea, where 82 Ukrainian forces surrendered. According to Ukrainian officials, the heavy battle is taking place in the city of Sumy in the country's northeast.

According to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency, two explosions were reported near Kyiv. At least eight people were wounded when a plane crashed into an apartment building and set it on fire. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, said Kyiv has been subjected to "horrific Russian missile assaults."

Ukraine's nuclear agency said it was recording increased radiation levels from the site of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant. 

The agency's experts did not disclose specific radiation levels but said that the shift was caused by the movement of heavy military equipment in the vicinity, which lifted radioactive dust into the air.

A spokesman for Russia's defense ministry stressed that Moscow will send paratroopers to assist help to protect the nuclear power facility near Ukraine's capital.

The radiation levels at the facility are normal, according to a representative during a press conference. He also said that Russian soldiers have damaged 118 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities.

In the meantime, the governor of Russia's southern Belgorod province stated that shelling from Ukraine had destroyed seven residential structures in the area.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov noted in a statement that Russia will come to terms with Ukraine in case that it agreed to stay neutral, and not keep any Western weapons on its territory.

Peskov emphasized that discussions about the terms of surrender would generally involve Ukraine's "demilitarization and denazification."

President Zelensky said that he is not frightened to discuss neutrality, despite the fact that his plea for NATO membership remained rebuffed by European leaders.

Late Thursday, Russia's military declared that it had "successfully" completed its objectives for the first day of conflict with Ukrainian soldiers in the Donbas area.

"All of the tasks assigned to the groups of troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for the day were successfully completed," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Zelensky reiterated that his country has been left stranded in an escalating tension with Russia.  

"We have been left alone to defend our state," Zelensky said in a post-midnight video address to the nation. "Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don't see anyone. Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of NATO membership? Everyone is afraid.”

Since the beginning of the attack, Zelensky said, 137 Ukrainians whether military personnel or civilians lost their lives and 316 more had been injured. 

He said that Russian forces had reached Kyiv and asked residents to be watchful and adhere to a curfew.

Despite Russia's designation of him as "target number one," Ukraine's president stated he and his family will remain in the country.

According to the UN refugee agency, approximately 100,000 people have been internally displaced, with thousands more having fled Ukraine since the fighting began.

The European Union launched what it called “the harshest package of sanctions” on Moscow early Friday, targeting 70% of the Russian financial industry and critical state-owned enterprises.

In a press conference, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that a fresh round of sanctions "will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action, in close coordination with our partners and allies.”

She added that Russian assets and banks' access to bloc’s financial markets will be frozen and blocked. 

On Thursday, the U.S. unveiled a fresh round of sanctions on Moscow, targeting five main Russian banks. Consequently, Canada, Australia, and UK have taken similar steps.

French President Emmanuel Macron, “while condemning, while sanctioning,” announced on Friday that Paris remained useful "to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be fulfilled, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted that lawmakers demand to provide Ukraine with $600 million for "lethal defense weapons".

"What we're doing with Ukraine is making sure that we have humanitarian assistance to help the people; that we have lethal defense weapons going into Ukraine to the tune of $600 million for them to fight their own fight," she told reporters in San Francisco.

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