A long-awaited operation is underway to evacuate civilians from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant in the southeast Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Sviatoslav Palmar, the Azov Regiment’s deputy commander, stated that “a ceasefire had finally occurred.”
He stated that he hoped that the steelworks evacuations would continue until all the workers, soldiers and civilians, were evacuated.
The Azov Regiment is an all-volunteer infantry unit that is helping to defend the last section in the city under siege.
“Despite the enemy’s claims, there was never a ceasefire. We also faced mortar shelling. He said that for the past two days, we can confirm that a ceasefire was in effect at the time announced.
He said that the Azovstal plants are strewn in mines, rockets artillery shells, and unexploded cluster of ordnance. The 36th Marine Brigade, police officers and border guards are defending the plant.
He said, “Some of them protect the territory, others prevent attempted attacks, some are responsible for a ceasefire and some of these help to clear the rubble underneath shelling.”
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According to the deputy commander, the increased presence of civilians and children has made it more difficult to fight and that there are many people who have been injured in the plant.
He stated that there wasn’t enough water and that the air smells like decomposing bodies.
He said that there was a lot rubble and that they don’t have the special equipment to take it out.
He said that soldiers find it difficult to lift slabs of tonnes weighing tons with their arms.
Palamar stated that the plant’s fighters will resist until an order is given to stop.
Ukrainian forces posted footage online showing elderly mothers and small children dressed in winter clothes being assisted as they climbed up a pile of rubble from the steel plant before getting on a bus.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, stated that more than 100 civilians, mostly children and women, would arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine’s controlled city.
He said, “Today, for first time in all of the days war, this vitally necessary (humanitarian), corridor has started functioning,” in a prerecorded address that was published on his Telegram messaging channel.
UN spokesperson stated that the “safe passage operation,” which began Saturday, was being coordinated by Red Cross, Russia, and Ukraine.
Mr Zelenskyy tweeted “Grateful for our team!” They are now working with #UN to evacuate other civilians from this plant.
According to Reuters, a convoy comprising Russian and UN military vehicles transported more than 50 people to tented accommodation at Bezimenne. It is located 18 miles (30 km) east of Mariupol.
More Mariupol Evacuations
Telegram reported that Mariupol City Council stated on Telegram, that evacuations of civilians from other areas of the city would start Monday morning.
People fleeing Russian-occupied territories have described vehicles being shot at, and officials from Ukraine have accused Putin’s forces repeatedly of bombarding evacuation routes that they had agreed to.
According to one of the Azovstal plant’s defenses, Russian forces continued shelling the plant on Sunday after the evacuation of a small group of civilians.
Denys Shlega (commander of the 12th Operational Brigade of Ukraine’s National Guard) stated on Sunday night that hundreds of civilians were still trapped along with nearly 500 wounded soldiers, and “numerous” bodies.
Mariupol is home to around 100,000 civilians. Thousands of Ukrainians have been murdered in unabated attacks on residential areas.
A total of 1,000 civilians are believed to have been sheltered with an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters under the Soviet-era steel mill.
On the battlefield
According to the government of the region, an explosive device caused damage to a railway bridge in Kursk, Russia on Sunday. This region borders Ukraine.
This follows recent explosions and fires in Russian regions close to the border.
According to the Ukrainian regional governor, there were four civilians killed in Donetsk and eleven more injured by Russian bombardment on Sunday.
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In a Telegram post, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko stated that seven of the victims were killed and seven more were injured in Lyman, the northern city.
He also said that another person died in Bakhmut due to injuries sustained in the Luhansk area.
In Sunday’s nightly address, President Zelenskyy accused Moscow “a war for extermination”, referring to strikes against nonmilitary targets.
He stated that Russian shelling had damaged food, grain, fertiliser warehouses and residential areas in Kharkiv and Donbas.
He stated that “the targets they chose prove once more that the war against Ukraine has been a war to exterminate the Russian army.”
He made these comments as the Ukrainian army stated that a Russian offensive on a large front in the country’s east was stalling due to human and material losses caused by Ukraine’s forces.
According to Ukraine’s military, Russian troops tried to advance in the Sloboda and Donetsk regions but were stopped by Ukrainian forces, which continue fighting village by village.