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‘What I saw, I hope no one will ever see’ says Greek diplomat returning from Mariupol

Randy Mancini 2 Mar 20
Greek Consul General arrives in Greece from Mariupol
Greece's Consul General Manolis Androulakis talks to the media after arriving back in Greece by plane from Romania after evacuating the city of Mariupol, Ukraine on March 15 and a journey that took him several days to reach Moldova, in Athens, Greece, March 20, 2022. REUTERS/Louiza Vradi

March 20, 2022

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s consul general in Mariupol, the last EU diplomat to evacuate the besieged Ukrainian port, said on Sunday the city was joining the ranks of places known for having been destroyed in wars of the past.

Manolis Androulakis has assisted dozens of Greek nationals and ethnic Greeks to evacuate the ruined city since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He left Mariupol on Tuesday and after a four-day trip through Ukraine he crossed to Romania through Moldavia, along with 10 other Greek nationals.

“What I saw, I hope no one will ever see,” Androulakis said as he arrived on Sunday at Athens International Airport and was reunited with his family.

“Mariupol will become part of a list of cities that were completely destroyed by war; I don’t need to name them- they are Guernica, Coventry, Aleppo, Grozny, Leningrad,” Androulakis said.

According to the Greek Foreign Ministry, Androulakis was the last EU diplomat to leave Mariupol, where many residents have been trapped under heavy bombardment for more than two weeks as Russian forces seeks to take control.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that Russia’s siege of Mariupol was “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come”.

At least 10 ethnic Greeks have been killed and several have been injured since Russia started attacking Mariupol. More than 150 Greek citizens, vessel crews and ethnic Greeks have been evacuated from the region, the Greek Foreign Ministry says.

Mariupol, a city of more than 400,000 before the war, has historically had a sizeable population of ethnic Greeks who have been active in trade and shipping in the region since the Byzantine period.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Vassilis Triandafyllou; Editing by Frances Kerry)