Russia has announced a ceasefire and a temporary withdrawal of its forces for further evacuations of civilians from a besieged steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Escape corridors should be established today, tomorrow and Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm local time (7:00 am to 5:00 pm CST), the personnel for coordination of humanitarian measures established by the Russian Ministry of Defense announced this evening.
“During this period, the Russian Armed Forces and formations of the Donetsk People’s Republic will cease all hostilities and units will be withdrawn to a safe distance,” the statement said. Civilians who are rescued from the Azov-Stal steel plant can decide for themselves whether they want to stay in Ukraine or be transferred to Russia.
Zelensky asks for help from the United Nations
According to Ukrainian sources, civilians are still waiting for evacuation, including more than 30 children. According to Kyiv, 344 people were rescued yesterday from Mariupol and the surrounding area to the territory under Ukrainian control. All day, the refugees were picked up from stations in Mariupol, Manush, Berdyansk, Tokmak and Vasilivka. There was no information on how many remained at the steel plant.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help save the lives of the wounded trapped at the Azov steel plant in Mariupol and to help evacuate them. “The lives of the people who are still there are in danger. Everyone is important to us,” Zelensky said in a phone conversation with Guterres.
Kyiv: Russian soldiers at the headquarters of Azov-Stal
According to Ukraine, Russian troops entered the Azov Steel Complex in Mariupol. An adviser to Ukrainian President Selinsky told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that one of them was still in contact with the defenders. Earlier, the mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boychenko, spoke of fierce fighting over the Azov steel plant, and therefore the place of the last withdrawal of Ukrainian soldiers in the city.
Russia recently denied a major attack on steel plants. “There is no storm,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has publicly given orders to stop all attacks,” Peskov said, referring to an order issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 21. About three weeks ago, Putin ordered the plant to be surrounded – so tightly that “the fly could no longer get out.”
Russian military parade in Mariupol?
According to Ukrainian intelligence, a “large-scale propaganda campaign” is taking place in the largely Russian-controlled city. According to Kyiv, Russia is also planning a military parade in the largely destroyed city to commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany on May 9.
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