The Russian Army has resumed attacks against the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance and where some 200 civilians are still trapped. The Russian Defense Ministry has assured that aircraft and artillery fire are being used and has accused the Ukrainian fighters inside the plant of taking advantage of the ceasefire for the evacuation of civilians to “come out of the cellars and take positions of shot in the territory and in the buildings of the plant”.
A head of the Azov Battalion, Sviatoslav Palamar, has confirmed the assault in statements to the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. “Throughout the night we were bombarded from the air, two civilians were killed, women, and now the assault is taking place.” Mariupol patrol police chief Mikhailo Vershinin has also blamed Russian troops for launching the offensive when buses with evacuees left. “We are defending ourselves, we are fighting back,” Vershinin said.
The first civilians who were refugees in the steel mill have been able to reach the city of Zaporizhia in one of the most delicate operations of the war after having spent about two months in the plant, hardly seeing the light of the Sun. However, according to the mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boichenko, there are still 200 people trapped in the facilities
Likewise, Boichenko has warned that Russian forces have blocked the evacuation of 2,000 residents of Mariúpol who are in the city of Berdyansk, a few kilometers away. The Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of preventing the transfer of civilians in the area despite the opening of a humanitarian corridor.
The Azovstal plant is one of the last redoubts of the city of Mariupol that Russia has left to conquer, in its attempt to take full control of the east and southeast of Ukraine and thus be able to form a corridor that unites the regions of Donbas and the Crimean peninsula.