Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Newest Information

The wives of militants trapped at the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol have urged China to persuade President Vladimir V Putin to accept a Turkish evacuation offer, while Russian forces continued to bomb the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the city.

Hundreds of militants – many of them wounded – are believed to be in bunkers beneath the sprawling factory complex. In grim news on social media, commanders have warned that supplies are running low.

Relatives of besieged militants have made passionate international pleas, including during a visit to the Pope this week, to help rescue loved ones. On Saturday, some relatives held a press conference in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, urging Chinese President Xi Jinping to intervene.

“We turn to Xi Jinping. He is Putin’s business partner and Putin can enter into a dialogue with him,” said Anna Ivleeva, whose husband is at the plant. “We urge him to have a fruitful dialogue and take our fighters to a third country, which could be Turkey, through the extraction process.”

Turkey, which has been trying to facilitate the evacuation of civilians and wounded soldiers from Mariupol, welcomed the wives’ efforts to enlist international support.

“We take these appeals very seriously,” Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in an interview. “It’s a war zone and if you save one person, that’s a blessing.”

China has repeatedly called for peace talks in Ukraine, but Chinese propaganda has questioned Western efforts to diplomatically isolate Russia and Beijing has sought to tread a cautious line in its declarations of war. In recent years, Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin have largely embraced each other, declaring that their countries’ friendship is “without borders.”

Turkey hosted two rounds of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations to try to negotiate a ceasefire early in the war. His recent efforts to release wounded soldiers have not progressed.

As a last stand in Mariupol, the southern city left in ruins by weeks of shelling, the Azovstal Works has become a powerful symbol for the Ukrainians and the fate of the remaining fighters – many wounded, and all of them surviving for ever-leaner ones Rations – is closely monitored.

It also has symbolic significance for Mr Putin: some fighters inside belong to the Azov regiment of the Ukrainian military, whose origins in a far-right military group, the Azov Battalion, are the Russian president’s false narrative that the country loses any shred of credibility awarded is overrun by “Nazis”.

According to Ukrainian officials, not all of those still trapped in Azovstal belong to the regiment. Some are from the National Guard, Border Service, and the military and security services. The Azov Regiment said there were about 600 wounded at the facility but has not disclosed how many fighters remain in total.

According to a report by the Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces appear to have secured the M14 motorway near the plant’s western entrance and continued to fire shells and airstrikes. Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russia would launch “massive artillery and airstrikes” near the plant.

After a successful evacuation of civilians from the plant, coordinated by the United Nations and the Red Cross, calls for a similar effort to rescue the fighters were heard.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk of Ukraine, who helped coordinate civilian evacuations, said officials were holding “complex talks” but warned that “there are no miracles in war”.

“God willing, we will save everyone,” she said. “The heart of the country now beats at the Azovstal plant.”

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