Fighting traps civilians in Ukraine plant as Putin urges defenders to disarm
ZAPORIZHZHIA- Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, including women and children, remained trapped in a Mariupol steel plant on Thursday (May 5) as Russian forces fought for control of Ukraine’s last stronghold in the ruined port city.
According to the UN, a new operation is underway to remove more people from Mariupol and the Azovstal steel complex, where an estimated 200 civilians remain trapped in underground shelters with little food or water.
President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to facilitate safe passage out for people, but he also called on Ukrainian military inside to disarm. Ukrainian rebels have reported heavy confrontations with Russian troops as they urgently try to hold on.
On April 21, Putin declared victory over Mariupol, ordering his soldiers to close off the Soviet-era plant while staying out of its subterranean tube network. Russian military assaulted the plant in recent days, according to Ukrainian reports.
Three explosions struck separate portions of the enormous complex, which was shrouded in heavy, dark smoke, according to aerial imagery provided Thursday by Ukraine’s Azov Regiment.
A third mission to evacuate residents from Mariupol and Azovstal is underway, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Over the last week, the UN has assisted nearly 500 civilians fleeing the area in collaboration with the Red Cross.
“I hope that our sustained coordination with Moscow and Kyiv will result in additional humanitarian pauses, allowing people to flee the fighting safely and help to reach those in desperate need,” Guterres said.
“We need to keep doing everything we can to bring folks from these hellscapes.” “To avoid compromising the possibility of success,” Guterres declined to provide information about the new operation.
Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said people would be evacuated from Mariupol at noon on Friday, but she didn’t say how many.