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Ukraine: Resistance in Azovstal plant holds, Mariupol not under full Russian control

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Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday that Ukrainian resistance remained at the Azovstal steel plant and that the besieged port city of 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, either by throwing bombs on them endlessly or by undertaking physical, physical attacks throwing [involving] infantry,” he said.

The Mayor of Mariupol Vadym Boichenko had said earlier that heavy fighting was underway at the steel plant where the city’s last fighters and some civilians were sheltering, awaiting evacuation.

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.

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Peskov was referring to the Ukrainian Azov fighters – the Azov Battalion is a far-right militia now part of Ukraine's National Guard.

The Azov Regiment had reported on Tuesday that Russian forces began storming the plant despite ongoing efforts to evacuate Ukrainians there. They said that heavy aircraft bombs were dropped, killing two civilians and injuring 10 more.

Kuleba said: “We succeeded in evacuating a group of civilians from Azovstal under the auspices of the United Nations. But the important thing here is that it proves that in principle, when there is a political will in Russia, this mechanism can work. But we see that they're very reluctant to let people go. And every next move requires a of work, a lot of attention and a lot of pressure put on Russia. And while some civilians are being evacuated, those who remain in the Azovstal, they suffer from, they suffer together with our soldiers from endless attacks, artillery fire and bombardments from the air. And their life is put at risk.”

He added: “The real scourge of this war and the real problem that makes no place in Ukraine safe, are missiles, Russian missiles fired at any time of day, in any direction, at any city in Ukraine. It will not be an exaggeration to say that any and literally any spot in Ukraine, any place in Ukraine can become a target. And judging from the targets chosen by Russian commanders, we have all the reasons to speak about Russia resorting to the missile terrorism tactics in order to spread fear across Ukraine.”

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