Ukraine’s defense minister says Ukraine is entering a “prolonged” period of war

Satellite image of damage at the eastern end of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 12.
Satellite image of damage at the eastern end of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12. (Maxar Technologies)

Ukrainian officials say that soldiers besieged at the Azovstal steel plant are again under Russian shelling.

Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said that the plane dropped heavy bombs on the plant, “because very strong explosions are being heard. People also see columns of smoke.

“As far as I understand, after the bombing is over, the Russians can try to start ground attacks,” he said.

“The factory’s territory is huge, they [the Russians] trying to break through the facility, gain a foothold and find entrances and exits into the underground areas where the field hospital is, where our defenders are,” Andriushcheko said.

So far their efforts to penetrate the factory have not been very successful. Andriushchenko said: “And this is what provokes new shelling, new artillery for these land operations.

He also said that many people return to Mariupol because the Russians do not allow them to enter the territory held by Ukraine.

“People are returning due to the fact that the Russian Federation closed all green corridors. The settlers in the Mariupol district, the Nikolske district, the Berdiansk district, who could not go to Zaporizhzhia, were forced to move back to the city, return to their homes “At the same time, we don’t see an increase in the food supply,” he said.

According to Iryna Vereshchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, the International Organization of the Red Cross is in discussions with Russian officials about the fate of those seriously injured and still trapped in Azovstal.

“We have begun a new round of negotiations on the route of the special operation. Let’s start with the seriously injured,” she said.

“We want a signed document: exactly how the evacuation from Azovstal will happen, we are preparing to sign it.”

Vereshchuk said Turkey had agreed to act as a mediator in the current round of negotiations.

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