Ukraine war: UN brokers evacuation from besieged steelworks in Mariupol as 1,000 still living underneath Soviet-era steel plant

·3-min read

The United Nations is working to broker a civilian evacuation from the last defensive stronghold in the port city of Mariupol, as resistance in a steelworks continues to hold out.

Ukrainian forces were fighting village by village to hold back a Russian advance through the country’s east on Saturday.

About 100,000 civilians are still in the city, while up to 1,000 are living beneath a Soviet-era steel plant, according to Ukrainian officials.

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Ukraine has not said how many fighters are also in the Azovstal steelworks, which is the only part of Mariupol not occupied by Russian forces.

However, Russia has put the number at about 2,000.

Russian state media outlets reported that 25 civilians had been evacuated from the plant on Saturday, although the deputy commander of the Ukrainian forces holding out inside said the number was 20.

Russia's RIA Novosti news agency said 19 adults and six children were brought out, but gave no further details.

Key developments:
• The Foreign Office is investigating reports that a British national has been detained by Russia after a video emerged showing a man in camouflage clothes being questioned
• The family of a former US Marine say he was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, in what would be the war's first known death of an American in combat
• Hollywood star Angelina Jolie is seen in the Ukrainian city of Lviv visiting refugees
• Vladimir Putin has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted units in Ukraine, UK defence chiefs say,

Video and images from inside the steelworks was shared by two Ukrainian women who said their husbands were among the fighters refusing to surrender there.

The footage showed unidentified men with stained bandages, while others had open wounds or amputated limbs.

The women also said skeleton medical staff were treating at least 600 wounded people and they identified their husbands as members of the Azov Regiment of Ukraine's National Guard.

They added some of the wounds were rotting with gangrene.

In the video the men said that they eat just once daily and share as little as 1.5 litres of water a day among four people, and that supplies inside the besieged facility are depleted.

The women claimed the video was taken in the past week in the warren of passageways beneath the plant.

One shirtless man appeared to be in pain as he described his wounds - two broken ribs, a punctured lung and a dislocated arm that “was hanging on the flesh”.

He said: "I want to tell everyone who sees this: If you will not stop this here, in Ukraine, it will go further, to Europe."

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The Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard is a seasoned volunteer force that is considered one of Ukraine's most capable units.

It was formed in 2014 by far-right activists led by Andriy Biletsky at the start of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

It eventually became part of Ukraine's National Guard, but many of its troops are members of the far-right political group, the National Corps, that was formed by Mr Biletsky.

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