Russia says to cease fire at Mariupol steel plant allowing civilian evacuations

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Russia’s army said it will open a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol, on May 5, 6 and 7, state news agency TASS reported on Wednesday.

“The Russian Armed Forces from 08:00 to 18:00 Moscow time [0500 to 1500 GMT] on May 5, 6 and 7 [will] open a humanitarian corridor from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians (working personnel, women and children), whose presence in the underground facilities of the plant is once again announced by the Kyiv authorities,” TASS reported.

The Russian army said that during that period it will cease “any hostilities” and will withdraw its units to a safe distance.

Heavy fighting has been raging at the Azovstal plant, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, where the city’s last fighters and some civilians were sheltering, awaiting evacuation.

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Earlier, Moscow denied that its troops were storming the Azovstal plant. Kremlin Dmitry Peskov said: “[Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] order was publicly given to the supreme commanders to cancel the assault. There is no assault. We see with you that there are aggravations associated with the fact that militants go to firing positions. These attempts are suppressed very quickly,” state news agency TASS reported.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukrainian resistance remained at the Azovstal steel plant and that Mariupol was not under full Russian control despite Moscow’s claims.

“Despite all the statements by Russian officials that Mariupol is under their full control, this is not true. Azovstal, the stronghold, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol still holds. Russia attacks them every day,” he said.

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