Posted in a short video message telegram Today Denis Prokopenko said: “I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the enemy’s pressure … the situation is extremely difficult.”
It follows reports from the city’s mayor that fighting continued around the sprawling plant Ukraine‘s besieged southern port city.
The huge structure is the last stronghold of the Ukrainian Defense Forces in the region, under which an estimated 200 civilians are taking shelter from the Russian bombardment. In the meantime, a total of another 100,000 people are said to be staying in Mariupol.
More than 100 civilians were able to leave the plant yesterday and arrived safely in Zaporizhia.
But the city’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said contact with defenders at the steel mill has now been lost.
Elsewhere, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Moscow is trying to increase the intensity of its military operations in eastern Ukraine.
Disturbing reports of relentless Russian aggression at the Azovstal plant follow claims by Russian forces that it will open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to exit the plant over the next three days.
Military officials said today the corridors are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.
They also claimed that for the duration of these windows, Moscow Armed Forces would cease all military activity and withdraw units to a safe distance.
It came after reports surfaced that President Putin’s forces had begun storming the Soviet-era plant in Mariupol – which was later condemned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as breaching safe evacuation agreements.
In his late-night video address, Zelenskyy said the first evacuations were “not a victory yet, but it’s a result,” adding, “I think there’s still a chance to save other people.”
In a statement shared by Zelenskyy’s office this evening, the president was quoted as asking UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for help to rescue those trapped at the Mariupol steel mill.
“The lives of the people who stay there are in danger. Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help to save her.”
It follows the UK’s recent intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine claiming so Russia continues to attack non-military targets such as residential buildings and transport hubs to weaken the country’s resolve.
Defense officials also said that despite Moscow’s ground operations focused on Ukraine’s eastern regions, rocket attacks continued across the country as Putin’s forces tried to hamper Ukraine’s resupply efforts.
“While Russian operations have stalled, non-military targets such as schools, hospitals, residential buildings and transport hubs have continued to be hit, indicating Russia’s readiness to attack civilian infrastructure to weaken Ukrainian resolve,” the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said. . reads.
“The continued targeting of key cities such as Odessa, Kherson and Mariupol underscores their desire to fully control access to the Black Sea, which would allow them to control Ukraine’s maritime communications routes, negatively impacting their economy.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/mariupol-ukraine-war-commander-b2071815.html “Difficult bloody battles” underway at Mariupol Steel Plant, says Ukrainian commander