Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Wednesday that new battles have broken out at the Azovstal plant, where hundreds of civilians are still trapped inside along with the last Ukrainian defenders in the city.
"Today there are heavy battles on the territory of our fortress, on the territory of Azovstal. Our brave guys are defending this fortress, but it is very difficult, because heavy artillery and tanks are firing all over the fortress; aviation is working, ships have approached and are also firing on the fortress," Boichenko said.
Speaking on Ukrainian television, Boichenko said there were 30 children trapped at the plant still waiting to be rescued.
"They are waiting for a new negotiation procedure and a new evacuation mission," he said.
"We must understand that people are still dying. Unfortunately, enemy aviation and artillery are working and firing on the fortress constantly," he said. Two young women were killed at Azovstal earlier this week, he added.
Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:
- Ukrainian commander at Azovstal says "enemy" broke into the plant complex during battles: The commander of the Azov Regiment soldiers inside the Azovstal plant, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko, says there are heavy battles unfolding in the complex after Russian forces breached its perimeter. Earlier Wednesday, the Ukrainian foreign minister said the plant still "holds" — despite relentless Russian attacks. "Despite all the statements by Russian officials that Mariupol is under their full control, this is not true. Azovstal, the stronghold — the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol — still holds," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a Twitter livestream. In an interview with Radio Svoboda, Ukrainian parliament member David Arakhamia had confirmed that Russian troops have already reached the premises of the Azovstal steel plant. Arakhamia, who has led Ukrainian delegation in talks with Russia, also confirmed that Ukrainian authorities had managed to regain communications with Ukrainian fighters at Azovstal after losing touch with them earlier on Wednesday.
- Russia says it will open evacuation corridors from the Azovstal plant Thursday: The Russian Ministry of Defense says it expects to open evacuation corridors for civilians out of the Azovstal steel plant near Mariupol starting Thursday. "On May 5th , 6th and 7th , 2022, from 08:00 to 18:00 (Moscow time), in accordance with the decision of the leadership of the Russian Federation, which is based on humane principles, the Russian Armed Forces will open a humanitarian corridor from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians (workers, women and children), whose presence in the underground facilities of the plant was once again announced by the Kyiv authorities," the Russian Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday.
- Approximately 2,000 Russian troops remain in Mariupol, a senior US defense official says: Approximately 2,000 Russian troops — or the equivalent of two Russian battalion tactical groups (BTG) — remain dedicated to Mariupol, according to a senior US defense official. However, 10 Russian BTG’s that had been dedicated to the city are now attempting to move north and have paused, “either to create better defensive positions or to refit and re-posture themselves,” just south of the town of Velyka Novosilka, according to the official. The official said that the remaining forces in and around Mariupol may include some non-Russian fighters, including Chechens. Russian military progress in Ukraine “remains slow and uneven” in the north of the country, according to the official.
- Ukraine retakes a Kharkiv region village and inches closer towards Russian border: Ukrainian forces have retaken another village in the northern Kharkiv region as a counteroffensive continues against Russian forces. In a video circulating on Telegram, troops were seen placing a flag on a building in the village of Molodova, just 13 miles (almost 21 kilometers) southeast of the Ukraine-Russia border. CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video. "This is how we liberate," a soldier is heard saying in the video. "Step-by-step, village-by-village. Our land." The counteroffensive to retake territory in Kharkiv has retaken a number of villages — about half a dozen in the area — in the last two weeks.
- UK announces more Russia sanctions and targets media outlets over "disinformation": The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced further sanctions against 63 Russian citizens and entities, including against Russian media companies "behind Putin's vicious disinformation campaign" and their employees. Russian war correspondents embedded with Russian forces in Ukraine and several Russian media outlets are among those sanctioned. Aside from asset freezes and travel bans, new legislation introduced means social media, internet services and app store companies "must take action to block content from two of Russia's major sources of disinformation, RT and Sputnik," according to the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
- EU wants to remove Russia's largest bank from SWIFT system and ban state-owned broadcasters: In addition to proposing a ban on Russian oil, the European Union is taking several other measures against Moscow over its war in Ukraine, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday. In a series of tweets, she said the bloc plans to: List individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine; remove Russia's largest bank Sberbank and two other companies from the SWIFT system, a messaging service that connects financial institutions around the world; ban three Russian state-owned broadcasters from the European airwaves because they "amplify Putin's lies and propaganda aggressively."
- Biden says US is "open to additional sanctions" on Russia after EU announces new round of sanctions: After the European Union and UK announced additional sanctions on Russia, US President Joe Biden said "we are always open to additional sanctions." He added: "I'll be speaking with the members of the G7 this week about what we're going to do or not do," Biden told reporters at the White House Wednesday while discussing the US economy.