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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy‘s office on Friday said an operation was planned to evacuate civilians sheltering in the Azovstal steel plant, besieged Mariupol’s last holdout, according to a report.
The office didn’t give any details on the operation, which it said would occur Friday, according to Reuters.
Russia has devastated Mariupol, a strategic port city, with constant attacks since the start of the invasion, many on civilians. The attacks have left the city with little power, water and food for the last two months.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his troops that it wasn’t necessary to storm the plant and claimed victory over the city. Still, Ukrainian defenders, along with thousands of civilians and injured service members, remained inside the blockaded plant.
On Wednesday, a Mariupol official said the Russians are continuously trying to storm the plant.
“Air attacks on Azovstal do not subside. No silence, but attempts to storm again and again,” Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to Mariupol’s mayor, wrote on his Telegram page Wednesday.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday, said efforts were underway to get the plant evacuated, Reuters reported.
Putin on Tuesday agreed to allow the Red Cross to help with the evacuation “in principle.”