Ukrainian officials say Russia resumes attacks on Mariupol steel plant
Russian forces resumed air and ground attacks on a massive steel plant that is Ukraine's final stronghold in Mariupol and a shelter for around 1,000 civilians, a Ukrainian official said Saturday, according to AP.
Why it matters: The attacks signal a reversal of Russian President Vladimir Putin's Thursday order to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to cease assaults on the Azovstal steel plant and instead continue to block off the facility and starve out the Ukrainians soldiers.
What they're saying: Oleksiy Arestovich, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, said Russian forces restarted airstrikes against the plant and attempted to storm it, according to AP.
- Ukrainian forces in the plant have repeatedly refused Russia's demands to lay down their arms, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that peace negotiations with Russia would end if the last defenders of Mariupol are wiped out.
The big picture: Capturing the plant and fully controlling Mariupol would free up Russian troops for the Kremlin's offensive in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
- A Russian general said Friday the Kremlin plans to achieve full control of southern Ukraine and the country's Donbas region in the next phase of its unprovoked invasion.
- Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies this week have shown the construction of at least two mass grave sites in villages near Mariupol that are under the control of Russia forces.
- It's currently unknown how many civilians have been killed throughout Russia's siege of Mariupol, but Ukrainian officials have estimated thousands.
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