By Julian Duplain
Today at 12: 30 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 5: 08 p.m. EDT
A high-ranking Ukrainian official and the Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that all women, children and the elderly had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians were trapped for weeks amid an intense Russian assault.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Telegram post that “this part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed.” Ukrainian fighters are still holed up at the sprawling plant complex — and a regional police leader told The Washington Post that three were killed Friday during the civilian evacuation. In his Saturday nightly address, Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine would continue to push its citizens out of this area.
Russia aims to capture the plant — the last sliver of Mariupol still under Ukrainian control — and is pressuring the soldiers there to surrender. Russia would be able to create a land bridge between annexed Crimea and Mariupol if it controls the plant.
Meanwhile, fighting continued in Ukraine’s eastern region, with Kyiv accusing Russian forces Saturday of blowing up three bridges northeast of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, to prevent counterattacks. According to Ukrainian military, Russian forces fired cruise missiles on the Black Sea port at Odessa, striking a civilian target.
Here’s what else to know
- First lady Jill Biden, who is in Romania as part of a four-day trip to Eastern Europe, met Ukrainian refugee students and their mothers Saturday at a school in Bucharest.
- President Biden and other Group of Seven leaders will meet online with Zelensky on Sunday to discuss ways to support Ukraine and “impose severe costs” on Russia for its invasion, the White House said.
- By comparing Ukraine to Nazi Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying “to twist history” to justify the war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday.
- The Ukrainian government is warning residents of potentially increased Russian cyberattacks on Victory Day, the Russian holiday Monday commemorating the end of World War II in Europe.The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.