Friday, March 31

Heavy fighting continues at the Mariupol steelworks in eastern Ukraine

The ukrainian commander leading the troops entrenched in a steel plant from Mariupol He assures that “difficult and bloody battles” are being fought against Russian troops. The Azovstal steel plant is the last bastion of the resistance in Mariupol and take the port city the south is a key target for Russia. In this context, Moscow has reported that a three-day ceasefire will begin on Thursday, but previous promises have always failed. For this reason, Ukraine is skeptical and President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked the UN chief to help evacuate the wounded from the plant. The Russian offensive continues in other areas of the country as well, especially in the east to establish “total control” over Donetsk and Luhansk.

After fail in taking the capital, kyivIn the first weeks of a war that has killed thousands and leveled cities, towns and villages, Russia has stepped up its attacks in the south and east of the country.

“It will take time just to get people out of those cellars, out of those underground shelters. In the current conditions, we cannot use heavy equipment to remove the rubble. Everything has to be done by hand,” the Ukrainian president explained in relation to the evacuation of civilians trapped in the steel mill.

Moscow declared victory in Mariupol on April 21 after weeks of siege and shelling, but resistance by Ukrainian forces in Azovstal has prevented Russia from fully taking the city. Mariupol is a major target in Russia’s efforts to cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea -vital for its grain and metal exports- and unite the Russian-controlled territory in the east of the country with Crimea, taken by Moscow in 2014.

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Dropper evacuations

United Nations Y Red Cross have evacuated this week hundreds of people from Mariupol and other areas. But an estimated 200 civilians, as well as Ukrainian fighters, remain holed up in the steelworks’ network of underground bunkers, according to Ukrainian authorities.

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More than 300 civilians were evacuated Wednesday from Mariupol and other areas in southern Ukraine as part of a joint UN-Red Cross operation, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine Osnat Lubrani said. But no one from Azovstal was among the group, said Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office.

“We fear there are more civilians trapped there, however, and we are prepared to help,” Laerke said in an email.

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