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Battle rage at Ukraine; UN evacuates civilians from steel plant in Mariupol

Russia has besieged the plant for weeks, demanding the surrender of its defenders from the Azov battalion.

In an operation that began a week ago, coordinated by the UN and Red Cross, all elderly people, women, and children have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. This has been announced by both Ukraine and Russia.

Ukrainian forces are holding out at the heavily bombed plant, the last part of the city not under Russian control.

Russia has besieged the plant for weeks, demanding the surrender of its defenders from the Azov battalion.

Meanwhile, the whereabouts of the evacuees are not yet clear, but Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said this part of the humanitarian operation was now complete. In the past, it has taken days for those evacuated to reach Ukrainian-held territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 300 civilians had been rescued from the plant, although the Russian defense ministry gave a much lower number, saying 51 people had been evacuated over a period of three days.

Mr Zelensky further said diplomatic efforts were continuing to get military personnel out of Mariupol.

Capturing Mariupol is important to Russian troops because it will allow them to complete a land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas region, as well as give them full control of more than 80% of Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.

But in their quest to do so, they have pummelled Mariupol with artillery, rockets, and missiles – damaging or destroying more than 90% of the city.

First Published: 8th May, 2022 16:15 IST

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