Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

145 civilians, troops evacuated from Mariupol: separatists

More than 140 civilians and five Ukrainian troops have been evacuated from the besieged port city of Mariupol, separatists said, as Moscow intensified its offensive in the east.

"Five servicemen of Ukraine's armed forces laid down their arms and voluntarily left the territory of the Azovstal plant," separatist authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic said in a post on the messaging app Telegram on Wednesday.

In a separate post late Tuesday, separatists said that more than 140 people had also been evacuated from the devastated city, which provides a crucial land bridge between Russian-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine and the Kremlin-annexed Crimea peninsula.

The Kremlin's forces are fighting to oust the remaining Ukrainian troops from their last holdout in the vast Azovstal iron and steel plant in Mariupol.

On Tuesday, Moscow said that Russian forces had opened a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian troops who agreed to lay down their arms to leave Mariupol.

Coastal Mariupol is a key target of Russia's devastating attack on Ukraine and widespread shelling has laid waste to swathes of the port city.

Moscow has issued a series of ultimatums to Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to lay down their arms and surrender.