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Ukraine says Russia resumed attempts to storm Mariupol steel plant to ‘stangle resistance’

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A Ukrainian official said on Saturday that Russia had resumed attempts to storm the resistance stronghold under the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers are still locked up.

“The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal region,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a televised address according to Reuters.

ZELENSKYY WARNS RUSSIA LIKELY TO INVADE OTHER COUNTRIES IF SUCCESSFUL IN UKRAINE

Smoke rises above the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from recent drone video posted on social media.
(MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL/via REUTERS)

The adviser’s comments come just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he did not believe a ground assault on the plant was “necessary”.

Putin instead called on his troops to set up a blockade to pressure Ukrainian forces to surrender as civilian supplies are lacking.

“There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground around these industrial objects,” he said. “Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can cross it.”

But despite Putin’s claims, Russian forces continued to hit the steelworks with a barrage of heavy shelling.

“Every day they drop several bombs on Azovstal, despite false promises not to hit the defenders,” Petro Andryushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, told The Associated Press on Friday.

“The fighting, the shelling, the shelling does not stop,” he added.

An armed serviceman from the Donetsk People’s Republic militia walks past a building damaged during fighting in Mariupol on Wednesday.
(AP/Alexei Alexandrov)

Around 1,000 civilians and soldiers are believed to be locked in the tunnels, and footage released by an Azov military unit showed large numbers of women and children living under the plant.

UKRAINE CHALLENGES RUSSIA’S CLAIM WON’T STORM MARIUPOL STEERY FULL OF CIVILIANS

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly called on the Russians to stop their barrage on the plant and allow civilian escape routes to be constructed.

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In addition to the continued bombing campaign, Ukraine’s intelligence services said on Friday they believed Russia would launch a ground offensive by deploying soldiers from its elite military units as well as personnel from its Federal Security Service. security – an intelligence agency that took over from the infamous Russian KGB.

“According to our data, they plan to deploy Russian guards and other parts of the military apparatus, including the Federal Security Service, to continue their assault on the factory and destroy our resistance,” the official told reporters. representative of the Ukrainian Central Intelligence Directorate Vadym Skibitskyi.

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