Russians block part of Mariupol ahead of “another attempt to storm Azovstal” steelworks, says Ukrainian official

Russians block part of Mariupol ahead of “another attempt to storm Azovstal” steelworks, says Ukrainian official
Azovstal iron and steel works behind buildings damaged during the Russian attack on the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 28. (Alexander Ermochenko / Reuters)

Russian forces have cordoned off an area of ​​Mariupol, potentially ahead of another attempt to storm the Azovstal steelworks, a Ukrainian official has said.

“For the time being, the occupiers closed the square in the Left Bank district from Veselka Park again. This may be due to another attempt to storm Azovstal or street fights,” said Petro Andrushchenko, adviser to Mariupol’s mayor.

Veselka Park is located north of Azovstal.

Andrushchenko also spoke about Russia’s efforts to take over more government positions in Mariupol.

He said Russian allies in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic were trying to “nationalize” Ukrainian property, such as the port.

On Thursday, DPR chief Denis Pushilin said the port was being cleared and reconstruction commenced, and “the port will be fully operational, we plan to make the first shipment in May.”

Andrushchenko also said that the Russians also began a census in parts of Mariupol, “despite public objections.”

Apartment buildings that have been severely damaged during the Russian attack on Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 28.
Apartment buildings severely damaged during Russian attack on Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 28 (Alexander Ermochenko / Reuters)

The census will assess the condition of high-rise buildings in the southern port city, as well as surviving apartments and their owners, he said.

“Yesterday in Mariupol, the occupiers issued the first birth certificate for the last month. For the first time in Mariupol, a Russian terrorist satellite has officially stolen the citizenship of our Ukrainian child,” Andrushchenko added.

Andrushchenko’s comments came hours after the Ukrainian president’s office said renewed efforts would be made to get civilians out of the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.

A little background: In recent days, Russian forces have stepped up attacks on the sprawling industrial complex in Azovstal as part of their efforts to fully conquer Mariupol.

Yuriy Ryzhenkov, CEO of Metinvest Holding, which owns the factory, described the scene as “a humanitarian disaster.”

“The city is literally under siege for almost two months now. And the Russians, they do not allow us to bring food into the city or water into the city,” Ryzhenkov told CNN.

The facility was built in 1933 under Soviet rule and was partially demolished during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s before being rebuilt.

Now it’s gone again – its corpse houses Ukrainian soldiers and about 1,000 civilians in a maze of underground chambers, according to Ukrainian officials.

Azovstal has since become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s relentless military attack on Ukraine.

CNN’s Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Isa Soares, Madalena Araujo and Oleksandra Ochman helped report for this post.

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