40,000 Mariupol residents forcibly deported to Russia, Ukraine claims

Kremlin has denied several reports claiming Russian forces are forcibly deporting Ukrainians from the sieged city of Mariupol.

 Ukrainian fleeing war zones in  Ukraine are seen at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Palanca Moldova, on  March 3, 2022. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
Ukrainian fleeing war zones in Ukraine are seen at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Palanca Moldova, on March 3, 2022.
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Some 40,000 Ukrainians have been forcibly deported to Russia since it has begun its invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian defense ministry's intelligence directorate claimed on Monday.

Since the beginning of the invasion in February, several reports have stated that Russian forces are forcibly deporting Ukrainians, specifically from the besieged city of Mariupol.

Kremlin has strongly denied those claims through its state-owned media.

In comments made to TASS, Russian president Vladimir Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said he could not comment on these claims, as they are "lies."

"Russia is not doing this...citizens are not forcibly brought to Russia's territory," Peskov stated. "It's not like that."

A train carries a captured Russian tank in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)A train carries a captured Russian tank in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)

Peskov added that while many residents of Mariupol came to Russia, they immigrated "voluntarily."

"The Russian military is helping civilians to leave Mariupol, to leave places where life is dangerous," Peskov claimed. "They [the military] help, despite the fact that, as is well known, these people are in danger when they try to leave these settlements because they are simply shot in the back."

Kremlin had previously caused ire by opening humanitarian corridors from Ukraine to the north and east of Ukraine to Russian or pro-Russian territory in the form of Belarus. Ukraine, which has demanded the opening of the corridors in ceasefire negotiations with Russia, stressed the need for them to be opened westward.

The Russian defense ministry claimed that all "injured and willing residents of Mariupol were taken to temporary accommodation centers" through these corridors.

In a statement prepared by Ukraine's reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories ministry, Ukraine issued steps its citizens should take if they were forcibly deported to Russia. 

Those deported to Russia should contact the Ukrainian embassies of neighboring nations or nations that could provide transit, the statement said.