Zelenskyy to launch operation to evacuate civilians in Mariupol steel plant Friday

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office on Friday said an operation was planned to evacuate civilians sheltering in the Azovstal steel plant, besieged Mariupol’s last holdout, according to a report.

The office didn’t give any details on the operation, which it said would occur Friday, according to Reuters. 

Russia has devastated Mariupol, a strategic port city, with constant attacks since the start of the invasion, many on civilians. The attacks have left the city with little power, water and food for the last two months. 

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his troops that it wasn’t necessary to storm the plant and claimed victory over the city. Still, Ukrainian defenders, along with thousands of civilians and injured service members, remained inside the blockaded plant.

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows damage at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows damage at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
(Planet Labs PBC via AP)

RUSSIA ATTEMPTING TO STORM ‘AGAIN AND AGAIN’ MARIUPOL STEEL FACTORY, UKRAINE OFFICIAL SAYS 

On Wednesday, a Mariupol official said the Russians are continuously trying to storm the plant. 

A building damaged during fighting is seen in Mariupol, Ukraine.

A building damaged during fighting is seen in Mariupol, Ukraine.
(AP/Alexei Alexandrov)

“Air attacks on Azovstal do not subside. No silence, but attempts to storm again and again,” Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to Mariupol’s mayor, wrote on his Telegram page Wednesday. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives an address in Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives an address in Kyiv.
(UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE HANDOUT)

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday, said efforts were underway to get the plant evacuated, Reuters reported.  

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday agreed to allow the Red Cross to help with the evacuation “in principle.” 

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