Russia will attack Azovstal despite the promise of a ceasefire
The Ukrainian military said Russian forces were “trying to destroy” the last defenders of the Azovstal steel plants in Mariupol, despite Russia declaring a ceasefire as of Thursday morning.
The Ukrainian army said in a statement issued this morning that “the Russian occupiers are attacking and trying to destroy the Ukrainian units in the Azovstal region,” adding that Moscow “resumed its offensive with the support of aircraft to take control of the factory.”
The condemnation of the Ukrainian military came just hours after the Kremlin (the Russian presidency) announced on Wednesday night that its forces would implement a ceasefire for three consecutive days, starting at 05:00 GMT (06:00 Lisbon time) this Thursday, to allow for a ceasefire. The evacuation of nearly 200 civilians still present in Azovstal, the mayor of Mariupol, Vadim Boychenko, stated.
The commander of the Azov regiment, Denis Prokopenko, who leads the defense of the site, in turn, noted in a video posted on Wednesday evening, that Russian troops managed to enter the steel plants and fought there “fierce and bloody battles.”
“Two days ago, the enemy was inside the factory premises,” he admitted in the video posted on the Telegram messaging network. “I am proud of my soldier because they are making extraordinary efforts to resist the enemy’s attack. I am grateful to the whole world for the tremendous support he gave to the Mariupol garrison. Our soldiers deserve it,” he added.
The Azovstal plant, a huge steel complex crossed by underground networks, was the last bastion of resistance by Ukrainian fighters against the Russian army in Mariupol, the city where a strategic port is located.
The surrender or capture of these soldiers would be an important victory for Moscow. Mayor Vadim Boychenko also called, Thursday, to continue the evacuation of civilians from the city, which is being carried out with the help of the United Nations and the International Red Cross. “We are striving together to save every person, every single resident of Mariupol,” he emphasized.
Fighting remains fierce in other parts of the country, particularly in eastern Ukraine, where, according to the governor of the Donetsk region, there was an attack on a residential area of Kramatorsk overnight, injuring 25 civilians.
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