Ukraine hopes to launch operation to evacuate Mariupol citizens

Ukraine hopes to launch operation to evacuate Mariupol citizens

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Ukraine is working on an operation to evacuate citizens from the Azovstal steel plant complex in Mariupol after Russia’s attempt to storm the plant last Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky participated in talks Thursday with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres of Portugal.

“Today, President Zelenskyy and I had the opportunity to address this issue,” Guterres said of the crisis in Mariupol.

“As we speak, there are intense discussions to move forward on this proposal to make it a reality,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “agreed, in principle” to an evacuation of Ukrainian civilians remaining at the steel plant in a meeting with Guterres on Tuesday, despite reporting that he initially ordered his troops to ensure that no Ukrainian civilians or soldiers escaped from the complex.

“The President agreed, in principle, to the involvement of the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol,” said Stéphane Dujarric, a Guterres spokesperson.

However, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko of Donetsk, Ukraine said Thursday that Russia continues to block any evacuations.

Kyrylenko claimed that Russia was blocking evacuations in order to capture members of the Ukrainian military.

“They (want to) use the opportunity to capture the defenders of Mariupol, one of the main [elements] of whom are the … Azov regiment,” said Kyrylenko.

“Therefore the Russian side is not agreeing to any evacuation measures regarding wounded [Ukrainian] troops,” he continued.

Guterres continues to support Ukraine and plans to work with the Red Cross to help evacuate Ukrainians.

“Mariupol is a crisis within a crisis. Thousands of civilians need life-saving assistance. Many are elderly, in need of medical care or have limited mobility. They need an escape route out of the apocalypse,” he said.

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