Shelling resumes at Azovstal steel plant, Ukrainian officer says

Mariya Knight, Olga Voitovych and Tim Lister

After a rare period of quiet that allowed about 100 people to be evacuated, the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol came under fire again Sunday night, according to a Ukrainian soldier in Mariupol.

The occupiers began firing on Azovstal again as soon as the evacuation of some Ukrainians was completed,” the commander of the 12th brigade of the National Guard Denis Schlega told a Ukrainian television channel.

They were using “all kinds of weapons,” he claimed.

It’s unclear whether the renewed shelling will jeopardize the next stage of the evacuation from Azovstal, which is due Monday. It’s estimated hundreds of Ukrainian civilians are still trapped in the ruins of the plant.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said “hundreds of civilians remain blocked in Azovstal together with the defenders of Mariupol. The situation has become a sign of a real humanitarian catastrophe, because people are running out of water, food and medicine,” she said.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said in an interview on Italian television Sunday the “Kyiv authorities are trying by all means to achieve the withdrawal of the Ukrainian radicals remaining in Azovstal, since among them there may be Western officers and mercenaries.”

There’s been no firm evidence western nationals are among the fighters at Azovstal.

“The situation with the confrontation at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol and the stubborn, even hysterical desire of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky, his team and his Western patrons to achieve the withdrawal of all these people and send them to the territory of Ukraine is explained by the fact that there are many characters who will confirm the presence of mercenaries and, perhaps, active officers of the western armies on the side of the Ukrainian radicals,” Lavrov said.

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