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Ukraine war: Zelensky plea as Russians seek Mariupol endgame

Russian forces have launched an all-out assault on the Azovstal steelworks, the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, according to Ukrainian officials.

According to the commander of the Azov regiment, Ukrainian forces inside the plant are fighting “difficult bloody battles” for the second day. After days of sustained attacks, Russian forces are said to have entered “the territory of the plant.”

Around 200 civilians, including children, are believed to be sheltering inside. The BBC was unable to independently verify reports of a Russian attack on a steel plant.

“I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the enemy’s pressure… the situation is extremely difficult,” Azov commander Denis Prokopenko said in a brief video message posted on Telegram.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has made a new appeal to the United Nations to assist in the rescue of those still alive. “To us, everyone is significant. We request your assistance in rescuing them “In a phone call, Mr. Zelensky informed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Mr. Guterres was thanked by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for a successful UN-led and Red Cross-led evacuation of more than 100 people from the steelworks earlier this week, but he asked the UN to “assist in the removal of all the wounded from Azovstal.”

On Wednesday, 344 evacuees from various south-western cities, including Mariupol, arrived in the relative safety of Zaporizhzhia, a south-eastern city still under Ukrainian control, according to Ukraine’s deputy prime minister.

Irina Vereshchuk thanked the UN and the Red Cross for their assistance in a Telegram post, saying: “Women, children, and the elderly from Mariupol, Manhush, Berdiansk, Tokmak, and Vasylivka are among them… We will now provide them with emotional and psychological support during this trying time.”

The evacuations were confirmed by Osnat Lubrani, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.

“While this second evacuation of civilians from Mariupol and beyond is significant, much more must be done to ensure that all civilians caught up in fighting are able to flee in the direction of their choice,” she said in a statement.

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