Russia resumes attack on Mariupol’s Azovstal plant, according to Zelensky aide, as video ‘shows children sheltering inside’

·2-min read
Russia resumes attack on Mariupol’s Azovstal plant, according to Zelensky aide, as video ‘shows children sheltering inside’

Russian forces have resumed its attack on the Azovstal steel works where Ukraine’s remaining forces in Mariupol are holding out, a Kyiv presidential adviser said on Saturday.

“The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal area,” Oleksiy Arestovych said on national television.

“They have renewed airstrikes on the plant’s territory, on the area defended by our troops, and are trying to conduct assault operations. Our defenders are holding against a numerically superior enemy, despite an extremely difficult situation, and they even carry out counterattacks,” he said.

Evacuations from the besieged port city had been due to begin on Saturday morning.

Vladimir Putin was said on Thursday to have ordered his forces not to storm the plant to finish off the defenders but to seal it off instead in an apparent bid to force them to surrender.

According to Ukrainian officials, some 1,000 civilians, including women and children, remain trapped at Azovstal together with the Ukrainian troops holed up there.

Earlier on Saturday a video was released by the Azov regiment of Ukraine’s National Guard, part of a group currently holed up in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, showing women and children sheltering underground.

Some of them are said to have been hiding in the plant’s tunnels for up to two months.

“We want to see peaceful skies, we want to breathe in fresh air,” said one woman in the video. “You have simply no idea what it means for us to simply eat, drink some sweetened tea. For us it is already happiness.”

Another young girl in the video says she and her relatives left home on February 27. Since then, they have seen “neither the sky, nor the sun”.

“We really want to get out of here safely, so that no one gets hurt,” the girl pleads.

Azov's deputy commander Sviatoslav Palamar told the AP the video was shot on Thursday. Contents of the video could not be independently verified.

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