Civilians Keep Arriving at Besieged Steel Complex in Mariupol, Fighters Say


Despite the dire conditions at the Azovstal Steel Works, the last Ukrainian military base in the key port city of Mariupol, civilians seeking shelter continue to arrive Russia’s offensive, so fighters there.

Maj. Serhiy Volyna, acting commander of a Ukrainian naval unit defending the plant, told the Times in a telephone interview on Friday that there are few places left in the city for residents to flee.

“There are various shelters that have been used by civilians and have been destroyed,” he said. “These people come to us.”

Russia sees the capture of Mariupol as crucial to its goal of securing a land bridge along southern Ukraine to connect Crimea to the Donbass, and its forces are relentlessly shelling the site. The facility has become the last refuge for thousands of trapped Ukrainian militants and civilians. Efforts to establish safe evacuation corridors have been repeatedly thwarted by Russia’s sustained shelling, and little food remains inside.

In recent days, Ukrainian forces at the steel complex have been posting videos on social media to draw attention to the dire situation there for civilians, especially women and children.

That civilians are still seeking refuge there — with no prospect of escape or rescue — is a testament to what awaits them elsewhere in the devastated city.

“The number of people is changing and increasing day by day,” Major Volyna said. “We have far exceeded what defines a humanitarian catastrophe.”

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