Zelensky and Red Cross plead for evacuations of beleaguered Mariupol steel plant
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Red Cross on Sunday called for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the last stronghold of Ukrainian defenders in the important southern Ukrainian port city. symbolic and strategic for both parties.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement it was “deeply alarmed” by the humanitarian situation in Mariupol and called for “immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access” to the city, calling in particular for access to the Azovstal factory, where about 1,000 civilians are trapped.
A small group of Ukrainian fighters are in the factory with the civilians, vastly outnumbered by Russian troops surrounding the area, and the Institute for the Study of War think tank assessed on Saturday that Russian forces ” are probably trying to starve those left in the facility.” .”
In a TweeterZelensky said he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the “need to immediately evacuate civilians from Mariupol, including Azovstal” ahead of Erdogan’s phone call Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mariupol, a prewar city of around 400,000 and the largest trading port in southeastern Ukraine, quickly became a key part of the Russian offensive and was largely reduced to rubble in the during the two months of fighting. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko estimated last week that at least 10,000 civilians died during the invasion, and humanitarian efforts to evacuate civilians and deliver supplies have repeatedly failed in the city. Boychenko’s adviser Petro Andryushchenko said in a Telegram post that Russian forces had “thwarted” an effort to evacuate civilians from Mariupol on Saturday, echoing earlier accusations by Ukrainian officials that Russian troops had attacked humanitarian corridors. Putin claimed victory in Mariupol on Thursday despite the continued defense of Ukrainian troops in Azovstal, a claim the United States called “disinformation”.
“The city is almost wiped out. People live without basic conditions – without food, without water supply, without electricity, ”Igor Zhovkva, adviser to Zelensky, Told NBC Meet the press Sunday morning. Zhovkva called Putin’s earlier claims of controlling the city “false” in the interview, saying Ukrainian forces did not surrender.
A Sunday meeting between Zelensky, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Zelensky said on Saturday US officials would visit kyiv, and the two are the highest-ranking Americans to visit the country since the war began. The Pentagon and State Department have not commented on the two officials’ alleged trip.
Here’s why Mariupol is such a popular target for Russia (Forbes)
Ukraine marks Orthodox Easter with prayers for those trapped (Associated Press)
Photos: In the shadow of war, Ukrainians celebrate Orthodox Easter (Forbes)