The Russian Ministry for Emergency Situation (EMERCOM) is sending two aircraft to Lebanon for evacuating Russian nationals. They left war-struck Syria on their own and managed to get to Beirut. An EMERCOM source told the Izvestia daily that the planes are scheduled to fly to Beirut on January 22.
According to the source, several dozens of Russian nationals are waiting in Beirut for being brought back to Russia. The Russian Embassy to Lebanon confirmed this information to the Izvestia daily.
“In fact this is not evacuation, just an opportunity has been offered to citizens of the Russian Federation to leave that region,” EMERCOM spokeswoman Irina Rossius explained. She said about 100 people, women and children among them, are waiting for EMERCOM planes.
The director of the Rodina (Fatherland) association of Russian speaking woman in Lebanon, Svetlana Safa, told the Izvestia that Ukrainians living in Syria were also evacuated from Beirut before the New Year.
Alexei Malashenko from the academic board of the Carnegie Moscow Centre believes the decision to evacuate Russian nationals who have become prisoners of the situation in Syria is the correct one.
“Assad’s regime is getting increasingly shaky, and those who are to take over are far from being angels. Russia’s reputation among the opposition is bad as we support the official Damascus. So, by evacuating Russian citizens Moscow demonstrates laudable far-sightedness. The West may take advantage of this to stress that Russia calls for a peaceful settlement of the Syrian problem and at the same time evacuates its nationals. But everybody knows that Russia has made unofficial offers to Assad to resign or at least change the line of conduct. He promised but instead continued having it his own way. So now we are simply trying to protect our fellow countrymen and Russia can hardly be reproached for that,” he said.
The Izvestia reminds the readers that in December the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry prepared a plan for a large-scale operation to evacuate Russian nationals from Syria. Under the document, law enforcement officers were ready to evacuate from the dangerous region about 30,000 Russians within several days. Of them only 9,000 are registered by Russia’s consular departments and embassies, while the others are not officially registered. Taking into account citizens of other CIS member countries, all in all 60,000 people are to be evacuated.
However, a large-scale evacuation failed to begin. Moreover, according to some reports the Russians, who an EMERCOM plane is sent on Tuesday for, got out of Syria all by themselves.