The Kremlin is denying that Russian troops are storming the Azovstal steelworks, the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians are reportedly taking refuge.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to direct the U.N. to assist with evacuating those still trapped in the steel plant.
“The lives of the people who remain there are in danger. Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help in saving them,” Zelensky said, as translated.
Some civilians were evacuated from the plant earlier this month.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed Russian forces were not storming the plant.
“There is no assault. We see that flare-ups occur when militants get out to assume gun emplacements. These attempts are being suppressed quite promptly,” he said, according to Russian state-controlled outlet RT.
Russia claims that it has full control over Mariupol and will open up humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave the plant, ABC News reported.
The evacuation routes will be open from the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Moscow time on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the outlet said.
Ukrainian MP David Arakhamia on Wednesday told RFE/RL that Russian troops have entered the territory of the steel plant.
The port city of Mariupol has been under seige since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February.
The United Nations claimed in April that Mariupol residents were being “starved to death” by Russian forces.