ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday he planned to evacuate citizens from the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Tuesday or Wednesday, he told reporters after a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
“The conditions for the evacuation of our fellow citizens from Mariupol are emerging. We expect good news today or tomorrow,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Ankara.
He added that 14,800 Turkish citizens had been evacuated from Ukraine so far as part of the Russian invasion and that Turkish officials held a meeting with Ukrainian negotiators on Tuesday.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Russian forces shelled the Sultan Suleiman Mosque in Mariupol, where more than 80 adults and children, including Turks, took refuge.
Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Ministry sources said Ankara was awaiting approval from Russian authorities for the evacuation of Mariupol, pending a security assessment.
The sources said landmines in the area had been cleared and work was continuing to open humanitarian corridors and allow buses into the city.
Moscow has denied targeting civilian areas in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Jonathan Spicer)