All Women, Children And Older Adults Evacuated From Azovstal Plant, Ukraine Says


Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Veheshchuk said Saturday all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol following an international effort to allow civilians to flee the sprawling complex where they had been trapped for weeks in the southern Ukrainian city.

Key Facts

Veheshchuk said in a Telegram post “the president’s order has been carried out,” and that this portion of the Mariupol humanitarian operation had been completed.

Mariupol Patrol Police chief Mykhailo Vershynin told CNN the evacuation had been conducted without incident, but he did not specify how many people were able to leave.

The Azovstal Iron and Steel Works complex is the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, and Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to block the site so that “not even a fly” could escape.

Ukrainian officials have been working to evacuate hundreds of civilians from the plant for over a week, as international groups—including the U.N. and the Vatican—have called for a ceasefire around the plant to allow people to flee.

Key Background

Putin claimed his forces captured Mariupol last month, but Ukrainian troops have remained in control of the Azovstal plant despite intense fighting. Mariupol has been a prized target for Russia during the invasion, as overtaking the city would allow Russia to consolidate a land bridge from the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula to Russian-backed separatist areas in the Donbas region. Russia has hit Mariupol with heavy bombardment since the beginning of the war. Russia bombed a theater where hundreds of civilians were sheltering in March, killing at least 300, though the Associated Press estimates the death toll could be 600. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said last month at least 10,000 residents have died in the city, which had a population of about 400,000 prior to the war.

Surprising Fact

Only 2,000 Russian troops are believed to remain in Mariupol, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Wednesday. The official said most of the troops that had been in the city had been repositioned to support Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Further Reading

Ukrainian Commander Says Russia ‘Violated’ Truce At Mariupol Steel Plant, Though Kremlin Still Denies Storming The Area (Forbes)

Dozens Of Civilians Evacuated From Besieged Mariupol Steel Plant, Officials Say (Forbes)

Here’s Why Mariupol Is Such A Prized Target For Russia (Forbes)