The Russian Ambassador to Nigeria , Alexei Shebarshin has said that the Russian military campaign in Ukraine would possibly also see some airports as military targets, citing that there would be risks involved with travelling through road, adding that “Russia was mindful of the civilians from foreign countries and that they would take all the necessary measures to ensure their security.
This forecloses immediate evacuations of 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine as the country’s airports are among the targets of the Russian military incursion which began on Thursday. This is in spite of the promise by Russian Ambassador that Nigerians and other foreigners would not be harmed.
If the airports are part of the military targets how are the foreigners trapped Ukraine going to be evacuated?
On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, its neighbour to the southwest, marking a dramatic escalation of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War which began in 2014.
The invasion was preceded by a prolonged Russian military build-up which started in early 2021, during which Russian president Vladimir Putin criticized NATO’s post-1997 enlargement as a threat to security and demanded that Ukraine be legally prohibited from joining the military alliance; he also expressed irredentist view.
In the past two days, 57 have been reported dead, tens of thousands have fled homes amid ‘dark hours’ for Europe. People in the capital, Kyiv, and elsewhere are trying to flee – some 100,000 have left so far, the UN says.
There are also renewed reports of explosions in the port city of Mariupol, home to half a million people. Russians seize control of the Chernobyl complex – site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster
Recall that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in a statement on Friday said that Russian military will not attack over 5,600 Nigerians studying in Ukraine.
The minister said Federal Government invited the Russian and Ukrainian Ambassadors to Nigeria over the conflict in a bid to sue for peace and also to discuss plans to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Ukraine.
The Nigerian Government expressed worries over the invasion of a fellow UN member with the Russian delegate expressing that only military installation would be targeted in Ukraine
The Minister said the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexei Shebarshin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Kirdoda Valerii were summoned over the conflict and the plans to evacuate Nigerians living there.
The FG also expressed its view to the Russians stating that it does not support the invasion of a fellow United Nations member that is recognized by Nigeria and urged for diplomacy and dialogue.
“This is really the position of the government and also, that we have 5,600 Nigerians in Ukraine and we are very concerned about what we are hearing and what we are seeing regarding missiles and bombs about the safety of Nigerian citizens there and also that we would like to be able to evacuate them.
“He said that this would be communicated to his headquarters and that obviously, they consider Nigeria a friendly country.
“The Russian envoy also said that they would do nothing to harm Nigerians and assured me that their action is targeted at military installations and that they are not about to start attacking civilian areas and so forth,” the minister said.
Onyeama said Nigeria sympathised with Ukraine regarding its situation as a country and as a people, in view of the heavy bombardment which has led to the loss of lives, adding that Nigeria has over 5000 students in the country, and is concerned about their safety.
“I told the Ukrainian envoy that we want the cooperation of the Government of Ukraine to do whatever is possible to ensure their safety and security and to also seek advice as to how the evacuation can be facilitated,” Onyeama said.
The Ukrainian ambassador said its government does not differentiate between people on the basis of their nationality and that is the best effort to protect everybody.
“Currently, the evacuation of Nigerian students is not possible because it is not safe to fly on the sky of Ukraine.
“As soon as it is safe to fly in the sky of Ukraine, we will join the Embassy of Nigeria in Ukraine and jointly with the Nigerian Government, we will arrange for the evacuation of Nigerian students,” Valerii said.