Russia has launched an assault on the surrounded Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine’s last redoubt in the port city, after a ceasefire broke on Tuesday with some 200 civilians trapped underground despite a UN-brokered evacuation. Russian rockets pounded other parts of eastern and southern Ukraine and targeted dumps of advanced Western military equipment, and Britain said Ukraine’s Western-backed government would defeat the invasion of Russia and securing its freedom.
Russia has turned its firepower on eastern and southern Ukraine after failing to take the capital of kyiv in March. The offensive was met with pledges from Western powers for tougher sanctions as well as heavier weapon supplies to Ukraine, including air defense systems and long-range artillery. On Tuesday, the European Commission is expected to finalize a ban on buying Russian oil in a bid to squeeze Moscow’s war chest. The US Congress is considering a $33 billion military aid package, and the UK this week pledged another $375 million in defense aid.
“This is Ukraine’s finest hour, one that will be remembered and remembered for generations to come,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a speech to Ukraine’s parliament via video conference, echoing the words spoken by Churchill in 1940 when Britain was threatened with invasion. and defeated by Nazi Germany. Russian forces attempted to storm Azovstal on Tuesday, the head of the Mariupol police patrol told Ukrainian media. The attack began after Russian planes shelled the site overnight, a deputy commander of the Azov regiment in the steelworks told Ukrainian newspaper Pravda.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Ukrainian forces had used a ceasefire to establish new firing positions and that Russian-backed forces were “beginning to destroy” those positions. Further along the Black Sea coast, high-precision missiles struck an airfield near the port of Odessa where drones and ammunition supplied to Ukraine by the United States and its European allies were stored, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Ukraine has confirmed a rocket hit in Odessa.
The war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 is also heavily focused on the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, parts of which were already held by Russian-backed separatists. Russian troops attempt to surround a large Ukrainian force there, attacking from three directions with heavy shelling along the front.
Pope Francis said in an interview published Tuesday that he requested a meeting in Moscow with Putin to try to stop the war but received no response. French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Putin on Tuesday, Macron’s office announced. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Putin’s policy was imperialist and that he would support Finland and Sweden if they decided to join NATO.
“No one can assume that the Russian president and government will not violate international law with violence on other occasions,” Scholz said. Russian bombardments since troops invaded Ukraine on February 24 have leveled cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than five million people to flee the country.
Russia calls its actions a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
MARIUPOL Reuters footage showed volleys of rockets fired from a Russian truck-mounted launcher towards Azovstal, a sprawling Soviet-era steelworks, on Monday.
The fighting followed a ceasefire around the compound that allowed several groups of civilians to escape Mariupol’s latest barrage against Ukrainian fighters in recent days. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said he hoped a first column of evacuees would reach the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia, adding that more civilians were trapped in bunkers and tunnels under the compound and that some 100,000 remained in the rest of the city.
“You wake up in the morning and you cry. You cry in the evening. I have no idea where to go,” said Mariupol resident Tatyana Bushlanova, sitting near a blackened building and talking to the sound of exploding shells. near. . Mariupol is a major target for Russia as it seeks to cut Ukraine off from the sea and connect Russian-held territory to the south and east.
EU WORKS TO AVOID RUSSIAN OIL In Brussels, the European Commission is expected to finalize on Tuesday a proposal for the EU’s sixth sanctions package against Russia, including a possible embargo on the purchase of Russian oil. In a major shift, Germany said it was ready to support an immediate oil embargo.
kyiv says Russia’s energy exports to Europe, so far largely free of international sanctions, are funding the Kremlin’s war effort. “This package should include clear measures to block Russia’s revenue from energy resources,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
EU countries have paid Russia more than 47 billion euros ($47.43 billion) for gas and oil since it invaded Ukraine, according to research organization Center for energy and clean air research. Ambassadors from EU countries will discuss the proposed sanctions when they meet on Wednesday. Putin responded on Tuesday with an executive order authorizing retaliatory economic sanctions against “unfriendly” foreign states.
PATH OF DESTRUCTION Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, has been shelled, as it has been since the early days of the invasion, the Ukrainian military said on Tuesday.
Giving an update on the battlefront, the Ukrainian General Staff said its forces were defending the approach to Kharkiv from Izyum, a town on the Donets River, about 120 km (75 miles) to the southeast. , as Russian forces left a trail of destruction in Luhansk province. Some other areas of Donetsk were under constant fire and regional authorities were trying to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, the Ukrainian president’s office said.
Russian shelling killed at least nine civilians in Donetsk on Tuesday, the regional governor said. The Ukrainian army said Russian forces were trying to take the front town of Rubizhne. Reuters could not independently verify the Ukraine battlefield accounts.
(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in kyiv, Michel Rose in Paris, Kylie MacLellan and Max Hunder in London, Sarah Marsh in Berlin, Philip Pullella in the Vatican; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie )
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)