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Azovstal on fire. Hostilities resumed.

Russian troops and DPR forces surrounded Mariupol on March 7. On April 21, Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu reported that the city was completely taken under the Russian control, but more than two thousand militants from the nationalist Azov battalion remain at the Azovstal plant.

President Vladimir Putin ordered to cancel the assault on the industrial zone, but to block it so that the militants could not leave it. The goal was to save lives of civilians who were taken hostage in Azovstal, as well as of the Russian servicemen deployed in the area.

After the ceasefire regime established on April 30 and May 1 resulted in evacuation of about a hundred of civilians, hostilities broke out on the territory of Azovstal.

So far, no more ceasefire for evacuation has been proclaimed in the area.

  • Ukrainian militants open fire in an attempt to find any weak points in the Russian positions around the plant. In their turn, Russian forces suppress the Ukrainian firing points with artillery, aviation as well as during the clashes in some areas in the facilities, in order to secure their positions and civilian areas near Azovstal.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports that the Russian army had broken into the territory of the plant, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to avoid storming of the plant was still in place.

Clashes in Azovstal continue on a daily basis. The both sides open fire. However, there is no massive assault of the facilities by Russian forces.

  • So far, the warring parties have managed to guarantee only two ceasefires, which were also limited by strict deadlines. The rest of the time, the fighting continues. Thus, the statements of the Azov militants accusing Russia of violating the truce do not correspond to reality.

On May 5, one of the main Ukrainian propagandists Arestovich claimed that the Ukrainian Azov fighters managed to repel the assault of the units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the DPR.

However, a few minutes later, Azov commanders released their traditional video appeal calling on the “international community” to save their lives, denying the claims of Arestovich and confirming that fierce clashes continue.

  • As soon as the fighting resumed, Azov militants revealed that there were still civilians in the basements of Azovstal. Thus, not all the hostages were allowed to leave the facilities.

On May 2, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited an anonymous representative of the Russian military headquarters of the operation to liberate Azovstal saying that there could be more than 200 civilians, including women, children and the elderly held in the basements.

The source also revealed that Azov militants offered to exchange the civilians for food and medicines.

  • “We have to maintain contacts with the Azov Nazis who are holed up there and representatives of the SBU in order to save the civilians who remained there. During the negotiations, they offered us to exchange civilian hostages for food and medicine. The indicated terms of the deal are fifteen hostages for a ton of food, as well as medicines. They warned that they would not let anyone else go to Ukraine — now they will only exchange them,” the agency interlocutor said.

He noted that the same methods were used by ISIS terrorists in Syria. They also offered to exchange the hostages for food and medicines by weight.

  • The United Nations Special Envoy for Ukraine Martin Griffiths said another convoy is hoping to reach the Azovstal plant Friday morning. However, the Russian Ministry of Defence is yet to confirm the ceasefire on May 6.