The mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenkosaid this Wednesday, 4th, that new clashes broke out at the steel mill in Azovstal in Ukraine, where hundreds of civilians are still trapped along with the last Ukrainian military in the city.
“Today there are heavy battles on the territory of our fortress, in the Azovstal area. Our braves are defending this stronghold, but it’s very difficult, because heavy artillery and tanks are firing all over the steelworks. Aviation is working, ships have approached and are also shooting at the fortress,” Boichenko said.
Speaking on Ukrainian television, Boichenko said there were 30 children trapped at the plant awaiting rescue.
“We must understand that people are still dying. Unfortunately, enemy aviation and artillery are constantly firing,” he said. The mayor added that contact with the Ukrainian soldiers was lost – the government was in contact with the military until the day before, on Tuesday 3.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said the Russian Armed Forces would not “invade” the Azovstal steelworks, but said it would crack down on “attempts by militants” to find new bases to take up firing positions.
Also this Wednesday, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) stated that more than 500 people were taken there from Mariupol, a journey of about 25 kilometers. According to local officials, 61 of the refugees were children, but it is unclear how many came from the steel mill.
Dontesk has set up a tent reception center in Bezimenne, where people leaving Mariupol are screened. According to the DPR Ministry of Emergency Situations, more than 27,000 people have passed through the center since the beginning of March.
Ukrainian authorities accused the facility of abuse, harassment and delays in filtering refugees. According to an investigation by the American broadcaster CNN, many are taken to centers like the one in Bezimenne against their will.
When leaving the Azovstal complex, Ukrainians have the option of traveling to Ukraine or Russia. Those who wish to enter Ukrainian territory are handed over to representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. But the Ukrainian government said tens of thousands of Ukrainians were forcibly deported to Donetsk and Russia.
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