Russia’s Defense Ministry announced tonight (Saturday) that the operation to evacuate civilians from the Azubestel steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has ended. Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Irina Vershchuk announced that the citizens had indeed been rescued. On the other hand, Ukrainian army officers said that Russian forces continue to block the Ukrainian forces inside the factory and that they used artillery and fire tanks.
In an online publication, Russia said that during the operation, 51 were rescued, since it began on Thursday. It was further reported that one person was rescued from the factory today. The rescuers include 18 men, 22 women and 11 children.
Meanwhile, CIA chief Bill Burns warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin “invests a lot in the second phase of his war in Ukraine and believes that doubling the military conflict is still his best way to break forward, and that he can not afford to lose.”
As you may recall, on Sunday Mayor Mariupol and Dim Boychenko warned that those trapped in the Azobestel factory “are on the border between life and death”, with new satellite images showing that almost all the buildings in the factory where the last Ukrainian fighters are fortified in the city were destroyed by Russian bombing.
In recent days, Ukrainians have reported heavy airstrikes by the Russian Air Force using heavy bombers on the compound, including the hospital where hundreds of wounded are being treated. Photographs by Maxar, published yesterday, showed large holes in the roofs of the buildings, some of which were completely destroyed, and many of the buildings east of the factory were also destroyed.