Civilians freed from besieged Azovstal in Mariupol as Russia ramps up offensive across Ukraine
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Veheshchuk on Saturday said all women, children and elderly people had been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol following an international effort to allow civilians to flee the area. this vast complex.
A total of 50 civilians were evacuated from the heavily bombarded steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
The release comes as the besieged nation prepares for an escalation of attacks as Russia’s uprising enters its eleventh week.
The evacuated civilians were moved to nearby Russian-occupied territory with the help of the United Nations and the Red Cross, NBC News reported. Nearly 500 civilians have received safe passage from the plant in recent days after weeks of suffering attacks and contamination. Reports from inside the factory said food supplies were horribly depleted and wounded soldiers were developing gangrene without clean medical equipment. Mothers reported that traumatized children began to develop stuttering and hair loss weeks after witnessing the death. The United Nations has described the dilapidated shelter as a “hell,” NBC News reported.
Although the civilian evacuations are a humanitarian relief operation, Russia reports that some 2,000 Ukrainian fighter jets are still guarding the plant and refusing to surrender. On Saturday, in his nightly address, President Volodomyr Zelensky announced that he was drawing up a strategy to save the army along with civilians. “We are also working on diplomatic options to save our troops who are still in Azovstal, although we did not disclose which leaders were involved in these discussions,” Zelensky said.
“They desperately need our help,” said Serhii Kuzmenko, 31, a Ukrainian civilian who, along with his wife and 8-year-old daughter, escaped the factory in recent days, PBS reported. “We need to get them out.”
Although the Russian flag was flown over Mariupol, Azovstal was the last Ukrainian stronghold in the city along the Sea of Azov. The resistance has prevented Russia from declaring an all-out victory over the strategic port, which would give Russia a land route to occupied Crimea, WTOP News reports. The evacuation follows Vladimir Putin’s previous orders that his troops “lock off this industrial area so that flies can’t fly through.”
Even during the evacuation efforts, Russian forces intensified their attacks on the plant. Aerial photographs of Azovstal taken by Planet Labs PBC show extensive holes in the roofs of facilities where Ukrainian troops and civilians are sheltering.
As the Ukrainian military maintained control of Azovstal, forces elsewhere also showed considerable resistance despite increased Russian shelling. Soldiers in Kharkiv have recaptured five villages along the targeted city, and satellite photos show Ukrainian forces entering Snake Island in the Black Sea, WTOP News reports.
Officials report that attacks across eastern Ukraine are expected to escalate as Russia’s calendar approaches Victory Day, a May 9 holiday commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany. Some believe that this date marks the deadline for when Putin wanted to secure control of Mariupol by capturing Azovstal.
By contrast, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday in a statement marking the Allied victory against Nazi Germany that Russia was trying to “debunk history to try to justify the gratuitous war” and his atrocities against Ukraine.” The official, who has traveled to Kyiv in recent weeks, said Zelensky and the Ukrainian people “embodied the spirit of those who prevailed in the Second World War”.
“We are defending ourselves against the onslaught of an autocracy that wants to destroy everything that freedom offers to people and nations,” Zelensky said on Saturday. “Such a struggle, for freedom and against tyranny, is perfectly understandable for any society, in any part of the globe.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/civilians-freed-from-besieged-azovstal-in-mariupol-as-russia-intensifies-attacks-across-ukraine?source=articles&via=rss Civilians freed from besieged Azovstal in Mariupol as Russia ramps up offensive across Ukraine