Russian forces have been hindering evacuation efforts and preventing humanitarian supplies from reaching the besieged city, Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the mayor of Mariupol, said on Friday. The statement came despite an assurance from Russian Major General Mikhail Mizintsev that people would be able to leave. “The city remains closed to entry and very dangerous to exit with personal transport,” Andryushchenko said in a Telegram post. “In addition, since yesterday the occupiers have categorically not allowed any humanitarian aid — even in small quantities — into the city.” About 5,000 civilians have been killed in the city since the Russian invasion began, according to Ukrainian authorities. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the city. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations said that they will make a renewed attempt on Friday to help the city’s residents flee. Tens of thousands of people remain trapped in Mariupol with scant food, water and other supplies. “Russia gave an ultimatum a while ago saying that the Ukrainian soldiers either had to give up or they would continue to pound the city,” said DW correspondent Amien Essif, who is currently in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. “Russia has said very clearly that they will not continue to exacerbate this humanitarian crisis until Ukraine surrenders, perhaps hoping that the international community will see what’s happening there and encourage Ukraine to surrender that city,” he added. Essif noted the strategic importance of the city for both sides as holding the city will allow them to control the Sea of Azov. Stressing that it’s very hard to know what’s happening in that city, he underlined that the fighting “can go on for a long time.” “Either Russia wins a complete and total victory with the total destruction of the city and most of the civilian lives there or Ukrainians will pull off an unlikely victory and maintain control of that city, hopefully avoiding the worst.”
Ukrainian troops have retaken the villages of Sloboda and Lukashivka to the south of Chernihiv and located along main supply routes between the city and Kyiv, British military intelligence said on Friday. “Ukraine has also continued to make successful but limited counter attacks to the east and north east of Kyiv,” the UK Defense Ministry said. “Both Chernihiv and Kyiv have been subjected to continued air and missile strikes despite Russian claims of reducing activity in these areas,” the ministry added.
Two Ukrainian military helicopters struck a fuel storage facility in the Russian city of Belgorod on Friday, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post. “There was a fire at the petrol depot because of an air strike carried out by two Ukrainian army helicopters, who entered Russian territory at a low altitude,” he said. Belgorod is located close to the Ukrainian border. The helicopters crossed the border at low altitude, Gladkov said, adding that the strike caused a blaze at the site injuring two workers and forcing authorities to evacuate some areas in the city. There have been no deaths resulting from the incident, the governor said. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack. The alleged strike comes just two days after the province was rocked by blasts at an arms depot. Gladkov said this week that the arms depot explosions were believed to be a result of another fire, although he said the regional authorities were awaiting confirmation from the Russian Defence Ministry.
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