Ukraine offers Russia private negotiations near Azovtsal

The Ukrainian presidency announced on Sunday that it had proposed to Russia to hold negotiations near the Azovstal industrial complex in Mariupol (south-east), where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are still being held, after most of the city became under Russian control.

“We invited the Russians to hold a special negotiation session near the Azovstal site,” said Oleksiy Aristovich, an advisor to the Ukrainian president, noting that the Ukrainian side “was waiting for a response” from the Russian delegation, according to the AFP.

“Operations offensive”

This happened as they claimed in earlier Ukrainian officials that Russian forces tried to storm the Ukrainian-controlled Azovstal steel plant complex Sunday in the besieged city of Mariupol in the country’s southeast.

The command of the Ukrainian armed forces wrote on Facebook that the Russian forces were carrying out “operations offensive”in the Azovstal region, as well as carrying out air strikes on civilian infrastructure.

Speaking from his location at the factory in An interview with opposition MP posted on YouTube on Sunday, Serhiy Volina, commander of the 36th Brigade of the Ukrainian Marine Corps in Mariupol, noted that Russia is targeting the complex with air and artillery bombardments.

The officer denies

Konstantin Ivashenko, the official appointed by Russia as mayor of Mariupol but not recognized by Ukraine, denied that there had been fighting in city, in comments cited Sunday by the Russian news agency TASS.

However, Reuters was not in able to verify in independently Ukrainian or Russian accounts.

Interestingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that there was no longer any need to control the complex. Last Thursday he declared Mariupol’s “liberation”, publicly asking his defense minister to cancel the assault on the Azovstal plant to save the lives of Russian soldiers.

important goal

Interestingly, the Azovstal steel mill is the main stronghold of the Ukrainian resistance in the port of Mariupol.

Russian forces surrounded the factory in early March and gradually took control of most of the city.

Mariupol has also constituted, since the start of the Russian military operation in Ukrainian territory on 24 February last, an important milestone for Moscow, especially since its control will allow it to connect to the south the regions of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, which have been annexed in Russian territory in 2014.

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