Ukraine wants the UN to oversee the evacuations from the Mariupol steelworks

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Ukraine on Monday calls on the UN to monitor any safe evacuation route from a steel plant in Mariupol, where officials say up to 1,000 civilians are hiding.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk made a plea after rejecting an agreement with Moscow to establish a humanitarian corridor out of the Azovstal steelworks, which continues to be attacked by the Russian military, Reuters reports.

Ukraine wants the UN “to be the initiator and guarantor of the humanitarian corridor of the Azovstal for civilians,” Reuters quoted Vereshchuk as saying on Monday.

A Ukrainian soldier from the Azov Battalion and civilians gather on Orthodox Easter Sunday in this distribution picture at the Azov Steelworks, where soldiers are holding out and civilians are housed.

A Ukrainian soldier from the Azov Battalion and civilians gather on Orthodox Easter Sunday in this distribution picture at the Azov Steelworks, where soldiers are holding out and civilians are housed.
(Azov / Handout via Reuters)

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Moscow.

Mariupol and the current situation at the Azovstal plant will be among the topics discussed, Russian state media report, citing its Foreign Ministry.

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows damage to the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Sunday 24 April.

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows damage to the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Sunday 24 April.
(Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Earlier Monday, Russia said it would open a humanitarian corridor at 1 p.m. 14.00 local time for those trapped in the steel mill – but Ukraine later came out and said no agreement had been reached.

“It is important to understand that a humanitarian corridor is opening by agreement of both sides,” Vereshchuk reportedly wrote on Telegram. “A corridor advertised unilaterally does not provide security and is therefore not a humanitarian corridor.”

Azovstal Iron and Steel Works factory in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, April 22nd.

Azovstal Iron and Steel Works factory in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, April 22nd.
(REUTERS / Alexander Ermochenko)

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Separately, Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said on Monday that he believes a ceasefire will allow Ukraine’s armed forces to regroup.

“We do not think a ceasefire is a good option right now,” he told Reuters, adding that “it is not up to me to decide.”

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