CONCLUSION 3-Civilians evacuated from Mariupol in Ukraine but many remain trapped
An operation to get civilians out of the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol was underway on Monday but hundreds of people remained stranded in the steelworks of Azovstal, the last stronghold of resistance to the Russian siege. The first group of evacuees was due to arrive Monday morning in a Ukrainian town northwest of Mariupol.
But those still stuck there lacked water, food and medicine as Russian forces locked them in the industrial complex, whose network of bunkers and tunnels provided shelter after weeks of Russian bombardment. “The situation has become a sign of a real humanitarian disaster,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
On the international front, energy ministers from EU countries were due to hold emergency talks to plan a response to Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in rubles or risk having their supply cut off. . While the EU has imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, the issue of Russian energy supplies has posed a dilemma that threatens to shatter the united front.
LOOKING EAST The Russian army is now focused on crushing resistance in southern and eastern Ukraine after failing to capture kyiv in the first weeks of the war, now in its third month.
Its assaults razed cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 5 million people to flee the country. Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, has become emblematic of the brutality of war and the suffering of ordinary people. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces now control almost the entire city, connecting Russian territory to the west and east.
About 100 civilians evacuated from Azovstal steelworks were due to arrive Monday morning in the Ukrainian town of Zaporizhzhia, 230 km northwest of Mariupol. “For the first time we had two days of ceasefire in this territory and we managed to eliminate more than 100 civilians – women, children,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an overnight video address.
Footage from inside the steelworks showed members of the Azov Regiment helping civilians through the rubble and onto a bus. But hundreds of civilians remain trapped inside. An older evacuee with young children said survivors were quickly running out of food.
“Kids have always wanted to eat. You know, adults can wait,” she said. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was participating in the evacuation operation with the United Nations and parties to the conflict, but said the situation was complex.
More than 50 civilians arrived at a temporary accommodation center in Russian-held territory on Sunday after escaping from Mariupol, a Reuters photographer said. “UNTIL VICTORY”
Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia has launched an unprovoked war of aggression that threatens to escalate into a much larger conflict. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday that Moscow only wanted to guarantee the safety of pro-Russian Ukrainians in the east and did not demand that Zelenskiy “surrender” as a condition of peace.
“We demand that he give the order to release the civilians and stop the resistance. Our goal does not include regime change in Ukraine,” Lavrov said in an interview posted on his ministry’s website. The Ukrainian army said on Monday that Russian forces were trying to take control of the eastern town of Rubizhne and prepare an assault on Sievierodonetsk. Further east, Dnipro Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said a Russian missile hit a grain silo but caused no casualties.
Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said three people had been killed by shelling in the past 24 hours. Two explosions occurred early Monday in Belgorod, the southern Russian region bordering Ukraine, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. The cause of the explosions was not immediately clear, but the Kremlin accused Ukraine of carrying out cross-border attacks. Gladkov said there were no casualties or damage.
Moscow is pushing for full control of the Donbass region, where Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Lugansk and Donetsk provinces before the invasion. THE EU REPRESENTS TRAVEL
In Brussels, European energy ministers were due to meet to try to find a way out of the dilemma posed by Russian energy supplies, which account for 40% of the EU’s gas and 26% of its oil imports. Germany and others have so far resisted calls for an abrupt halt to Russian fuel imports for fear of economic damage, while Moscow is demanding European buyers pay for Russian gas in rubles or risk seeing their supply cut.
Russia cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week after refusing to meet its demand to actually pay in roubles. As many European companies face gas payment delays later this month, EU states must clarify whether companies can continue to buy fuel without breaching EU sanctions on Russia .
Ruble payments can help shield Russia’s economy from the impact of sanctions, while fuel revenues can help fund its military operation. Diplomats have said the EU is moving towards a ban on Russian oil imports by the end of the year.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)