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Zelensky: I am in ongoing diplomatic efforts to save our fighters in Mariupol


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that they are in ongoing diplomatic efforts to rescue the remaining fighters holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, where other civilians were evacuated from the bombed factory.

The defenders vowed not to give up. Ukrainian officials fear that Russian forces could try to eliminate them by Monday, the commemoration of the former Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Ukraine said 50 civilians were evacuated on Friday, accusing Russia of violating a truce aimed at allowing dozens of others still trapped underground to leave after weeks of siege.

Mariupol is undergoing the most devastating shelling of the 10-week war, and the vast Soviet-era Azovstal factory is the last part of the city still in the hands of Ukrainian fighters.

In a video speech in the prime Saturday morning, Zelensky said Ukraine was making diplomatic efforts to rescue the defenders holed up inside the steel mill. It was not clear how many Ukrainian fighters were still in the plant.

“Influential brokers as well as influential countries participate,” he said, without giving any details.

UN-mediated evacuations of several hundred civilians who had taken refuge began last weekend in a network of tunnels and bunkers under the factory. But he stopped during the week due to new fighting.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said 50 women, children and the elderly were evacuated on Friday afternoon, adding that the operation would continue on Saturday. You said that the Russian side is constantly violating the ceasefire in theareamaking the evacuation process very slow.

Russia confirmed the number of displaced persons and declared: “The humanitarian operation in Azovstal will continue on May 7”.

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Siege inside the factory . no food or drink

The city mayor said last week that 200 people were trapped in the factory with little food or water. It was not clear how many others were left.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Aristovich said Russia is trying to eliminate forces inside the plant to seize it by Monday as a gift to President Vladimir Putin for the Victory Day celebration of World War II.

Putin declared victory in Mariupol on April 21, ordering the closure of the factory and inviting Ukrainian forces inside to lay down their arms. But Russia in later resumed his attack on the plant.

Asked about Russia’s plans to celebrate World War II anniversaries in the parts of Ukraine it controls, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The time will come to celebrate Victory Day in Mariupol.”

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Battle for control of the East

Ukraine and its western allies say that after failing to capture the capital, Kiev, Russian forces have made slow progress in their revised goal of capturing the east and south of the country, but may also plan to invade the western neighbor. of Ukraine, Moldova.

Mariupol, which lies between Crimea, conquered by Moscow in 2014, and parts of eastern Ukraine seized by Russia-backed separatists that year, is key to connecting the two Russian-controlled regions and blocking Ukrainian exports.

Moscow describes its measures as a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and free it from what it calls Western-fueled anti-Russian nationalism.

Ukraine and the West claim that Russia has launched a war without justification and have accused Russian forces of war crimes. Moscow denies the allegations and says it only targets military or strategic, not civilian sites.

More than five million Ukrainians have fled abroad since the invasion began.

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