Ukraine’s Defense Minister says Ukraine is entering a “prolonged” phase of the war

A satellite view of damage to the eastern end of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12 (Maxar Technologies)

Ukrainian officials say soldiers trapped at the Azovstal steel plant have again been bombarded by Russia.

The planes dropped heavy bombs on the plant, said Petro Andryushenko, an advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, “because very loud explosions are heard, and people also saw plumes of smoke.

“As far as I know, after the bombing is over, the Russians may try to launch ground attacks,” he said.

“The factory space is huge, hmm [the Russians] They are trying to penetrate the facility, get a foothold and find entrances and exits to the underground areas – where the field hospital is, where our defenders are located, ”said Andryushiko.

So far their efforts to infiltrate the plant have not been very successful. “And this is what provokes the new bombardment, the new artillery cover of these ground operations,” Andryushenko said.

He also said that more people are returning to Mariupol because the Russians have not allowed them to enter Ukraine-controlled territory.

“People are returning due to the de facto closure of all green lanes by the Russian Federation. People who have settled in Mariupol district, Nikolsky district, Berdyansk district, who cannot reach Zaporizhia are forced to return to the city, to their homes at the same time we have not seen an increase in supplies food”.

The International Red Cross discussed with Russian officials the fate of the seriously wounded and those still trapped in Azovstal, according to Irina Vereshuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister.

“We have started a new round of negotiations on the roadmap for the special operation. Let’s start with the seriously wounded,” she said.

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“We want to sign a document: exactly how the evacuation from Azovstal will take place, and we are preparing to sign it.”

Vereshuk said Turkey has agreed to act as a mediator in the current round of talks.

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