There are currently about 1,000 civilians and 500 wounded soldiers trapped in the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said on April 21.
She demanded that the Russian military open a humanitarian corridor to the Azovstal plant to evacuate the civilians and wounded soldiers.
“They all need to be pulled out of Azovstal today!” Vereshchuk said.
“I call on world leaders and the international community to focus their efforts on Azovstal now. This is now a key point and a key moment for humanitarian efforts!”
On the evening of April 18, Mariupol City Council reported that Russian invaders were dropping super heavy bombs on the Azovstal plant. Azov soldiers, who rejected all ultimatums from the Russian Armed Forces to surrender, say that the plant has been almost completely destroyed.
There are at least 1,000 civilians hiding in the underground shelters of Azovstal, among them women with children, elderly people and the families of Ukrainian soldiers.
Russia has refused to allow a humanitarian corridor to open so that citizens can leave Mariupol. Attempts by Ukraine open a corridor were disrupted on April 20 by Russian shelling.
Mariupol has been under siege by invading Russian forces since March 1, with 95% of its buildings now having been destroyed by Russian shelling.
Residents of the city have no access to water, electricity, heating or communications. Up to 22,000 civilians of the city have been killed due to the actions of the Russian invaders.
On April 21, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin ordered Minister of Defense of Russia Sergei Shoigu to call off his military assault on the industrial area near the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, calling it inexpedient. Putin's order came five days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the killing of Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol would put an end to talks with Russia.