Ukrainian forces fought a fight on Saturday to stop a Russian advance in the south and east of their country, as the Kremlin seeks to seize control of the Donbass industrial zone, and Western military analysts said Moscow’s offensive was continuing.. The United Nations continued to attempt to mediate the evacuation of civilians from the increasingly rubble of hell It is a southern port city that Russia has sought to capture since its conquest More than nine weeks ago.
Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko said Friday that citizens are “begging to be rescued” from a steel plant that has become Mariupol’s last defensive stronghold. “There, it’s not a matter of days. It’s a matter of hours.” An estimated 2,000 fighters are holed up in the factory, along with about 1,000 civilians.
Russian state media reported on Saturday that 25 civilians had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plants, although there was no confirmation from Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency of the United Nations. It said 19 adults and six children had been evacuated, but gave no further details.
A senior official in the Azov Regiment, the Ukrainian unit that defends the plant, said 20 civilians were evacuated during the ceasefire, though it was not clear if he was referring to the same group that Russian news reports were referring to.
After two months of hellish resistance, video footage showed border guards singing the Ukrainian national anthem, barricaded in the factory, according to CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay. They are backed by the love of their wives, now refugees in Rome, like Yulia, who has no hope of Russian promises of safe evacuation.
“They are very bad people,” she said. They lied, they did not trust Russia. ”
Videos and photos from inside the factory, shared with The Associated Press, showed unidentified men with smeared bandages; Others had open wounds or had limbs amputated.
Local media reports indicated that some soldiers are still trapped inside the factory, suffering from gangrene.
Two Ukrainian women, whose husbands are members of the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard, said they feared soldiers would be tortured and killed if the Russians left them behind and captured. They requested a Dunkirk-style mission to evacuate fighters, in reference to the World War II operation launched to rescue besieged Allied forces in northern France.
Katerina Prokopenko, 27 years old, He told The Associated Press. “We need to do this now, because people – every hour, every second – are dying.”
Getting a full picture of the battle going on in the east was difficult because the air strikes and artillery shelling made the movement of journalists too dangerous. Both Ukraine and Moscow-backed rebels fighting in the east have also tightly restricted reporting from the combat zone.
Numerically, the Russian military manpower greatly exceeds the workforce in Ukraine. In the days before the start of the war, Western intelligence estimated that Russia was stationed near the border with as many as 190,000 soldiers. The standing Ukrainian army numbered about 200,000, spread across the country.
But so far, Russian and separatist forces appear to have made only small gains in Donbass in the month since Moscow said it would concentrate its military force in eastern Ukraine.
A senior US defense official who spoke on the condition said the US believed the Russians were “at least several days behind where they want to be,” in part because of the insistence of the Ukrainian resistance, as they try to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east. Anonymity to discuss the US military’s assessment.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense offered a similar assessment in its daily assessment of the war, saying it believed Russian forces in Ukraine likely suffered from “low morale”, coupled with a lack of unit-level skills and “inconsistent air support”. It did not state on what basis the evaluation was conducted.
Despite the nature of the battle on a village-by-village basis to gain ground in the Donbass, the promised Russian offensive could still come true. Overall, the Russian Army has an estimated 900,000 personnel on active duty. Russia also has a much larger air and sea power than Ukraine and possesses tactical nuclear weapons.
In Mariupol, it is believed that around 100,000 people remain in the city with little food, water and medicine. UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the organization was negotiating with authorities in Moscow and Kiev to create conditions for safe passage.
Ukraine has blamed the failure of several previous evacuation attempts on continued Russian bombing.
For those who work in the Soviet-era Azovstal steel plant, an extensive network of tunnels and underground bunkers provides safety from air strikes. But the mayor said the situation became more dangerous after the Russians threw “bunker busters” and other bombs at the factory.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV that the real problem is that “radical Ukrainian citizens ignore humanitarian corridors.” Moscow has repeatedly claimed that right-wing Ukrainians have thwarted evacuation efforts and used civilians as human shields. Claims have not been verified.
The Azov regiment that helps defend the steel mill has its roots inFormed by far-right activists in 2014 at the beginning of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.
In other comments published by Xinhua on Saturday, Lavrov said Russia has evacuated more than one million people from Ukraine since the war began, including more than 300 Chinese civilians.
The foreign minister did not provide any evidence to support his claims in the interview. Ukraine accused Moscow of forcibly sending Ukrainians out of the country.
Lavrov also partially blamed the lack of progress in discussions to end the war on “hostile rhetoric and inflammatory actions by Western supporters of the Kyiv regime”. At night, Russian state television shows guests suggesting that Moscow use nuclear weapons in the conflict. Russia also recently revealed an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear capability.
Dealing with the use of nuclear weapons is a psychological ploy designed to prevent the United States and other allies from helping Ukraine, Marco Sopron, an expert on Russian propaganda, told CBS News’ Chris Livesay.
“Let Russia decide whether or not to arm Ukraine because it has nuclear weapons is really a victory for Russian disinformation, because you convinced them of your greatness,” Sopron said.
In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of trying to destroy the Donbass and everyone who lives there.
He said the ongoing attacks “show that Russia wants to empty this land of all people”.
“If the Russian invaders are able to implement their plans even partially, then they have enough artillery and aircraft to turn the entire Donbass into stone, as they did with Mariupol,” Zelensky said.
In a neighborhood on the outskirts of Kharkiv that is regularly bombarded by Russian forces, some residents remained in their apartments even though the buildings were charred in crevices. There is no running water or electricity, so they congregate outside to cook on open flames.
Ukrainian reservists based in a living basement said that the Russians bombed the buildings with rockets, artillery, and tank fire.
He would give only his first name, said Vladislav, who, like the others in the unit.
Another reserve soldier, called Malesh, expressed frustration that he was unable to do more to stop the Russian advance.
“I took up the gun, but unfortunately I can’t pick up the flying missiles with my bare hands and bring them back,” he said.
In the nearby village of Ruska Lozava, hundreds of people were evacuated after Ukrainian forces recaptured the city from Russian occupiers, according to the region’s governor. Those who fled to Kharkiv spoke of squalid conditions under the Russians, with little water or food and no electricity.
“We were hiding in the basement. It was horrible. The basement was shaking from the explosions. We were screaming and crying and praying to God,” said resident Ludmila Bocharnikova.