The co-commander of one of the Ukrainian units encircled in the port of Mariupol said Thursday that Russian forces continued their bombardment of the city amid negotiations to evacuate civilians.
Maksym Zhorin, co-commander of Ukraine's Azov regiment, said in televised remarks that Russian forces "have not stopped shelling areas of Mariupol" amid negotiations on so-called "green corridors" for evacuation from the city, limiting the number of people who can be evacuated.
"Think about it, there are more than 100,000 people in the city, some of them under rubble, some in basements," he said.
"Many of them are in the territory of Azovstal [steel factory], there are a lot of children, a lot of women, the elderly. And today, while agreeing on a green corridor, the Russians simply cynically fired on fortifications, on shelters where civilians were. So, of course, the Russians cannot be trusted in any case."
Two senior Ukrainian officials said Wednesday they were ready to meet their Russian counterparts to negotiate safe passage for civilians and Ukrainian troops holding out in the city. Zhorin expressed the hope that a third country could act as a guarantor for an evacuation agreement.
Ukrainian officials said they hoped they would be able to resume evacuations Thursday.
"Today, indeed, a number of people were still able to find and get on buses, but they are still in uncontrolled territory," Zhorin said. "And we can consider this evacuation at least a little successful when Ukrainians, civilians, will be in the territory controlled by Ukraine. This has not happened so far."