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Russia’s war escalates in eastern Ukraine, although Mariupol’s ceasefire allows evacuations from Azovstal steelworks

Bakhmut, Ukraine – The evacuation of civilians who have spent two months inside tunnels under an extensive steelworks in the besieged southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol was resumed on Monday. About 100 of the estimated 1,000 civilians who have been hiding in the temporary shelter for weeks with relentless Russian bombingsIt managed to escape Sunday, officials said, and the ceasefire that enabled these evacuations appeared to hold.

The President of Ukraine said more than 100 civilians had been evacuated from Azovstal steelworks and was due to arrive in Ukraine-controlled Zaporizhzhia on Monday, with several evacuations planned. The civilians have been hiding in Soviet-era tunnels under the facility along with about 2,000 Ukrainian forces – the last clues after Russia’s devastating efforts to completely conquer the strategic port city of Mariupol.

“For the first time, there was a two-day real ceasefire in this area. More than 100 civilians have already been evacuated – women and children first and foremost,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

FILE PHOTO: Azovstal civilian evacuations in Mariupol
Members of the Azov Regiment of Ukraine’s Defense Forces join civilians during UN-led evacuations from the vast Azov Steelworks in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, after nearly two months of siege against the city of Russia during its invasion, in a silent video from the distribution video published May 1, 2022 by the Azov Regiment.

David Arakhamia / Azov Regiment / Handout / REUTERS


As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports, they emerged as dazed survivors from the rubble and remnants of the fallen plant.

“I can not believe it,” Natalia Usmanova said as she stepped into daylight on Sunday. “Two months of darkness. We saw no sunlight. We were so scared.”

Families – many with children and even pets – are among those now heading towards relative security on Ukrainian-held territory. D’Agata says their rescue, after so many failed attempts, marks a significant achievement for both the UN and the Red Cross, which spent weeks negotiating the humanitarian ceasefire.

It has also given hope that lives can be saved in Ukraine, even from besieged cities like Mariupol. But D’Agata says while guns remained silent in the port city, fighting continued to rage along frontline battlefields in eastern Ukraine.


Russia is slowly advancing in eastern Ukraine

03:56

A fierce Russian offensive there has forced the few remaining residents of cities like Lyman to flee. There, D’Agata and his team of volunteers saw risking their own lives to save others.

Just after the CBS News team left, a Russian air strike destroyed a railway bridge leading out of the city. It was part of a broader campaign by Russia’s military to try to stop more weapons from the United States and other Western nations from reaching the Ukrainian forces fighting on the front lines.

However, as the fighting in the eastern Donbas regions escalates, there have been further indications that the war started by President Vladimir Putin extends beyond these front lines to Russian soil. Explosions were reported in the Russian border town of Belgorod, where video on social media caught a military installation on fire.


Switchblade “kamikaze” drones

04:42

Russia’s forces are also being targeted on the water. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said a new video shown its forces use drones to destroy two high-speed Russian patrol boats in the Black Sea.

However, Ukraine’s exhausted soldiers are still in the minority and in surplus, and they can only hope for the latest promised heavy weapons worth $ 33 billion from America comes to them before the Russian military does.

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