Ukraine to continue evacuation from Mariupol

This handout satellite image released on April 30, 2022 by Maxar Technologies shows the Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol's last holdout, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering with Ukrainian troops on April 29, 2022. (SATELLITE IMAGE  ©2022 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES / AFP)

Ukraine will continue the evacuation from the besieged city of Mariupol which began on Sunday afternoon, head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak said on Sunday evening.

In the first stage, Ukraine evacuated from Mariupol 100 women, children and elders, who will arrive in Ukraine's southern city of Zaporizhzhia, Yermak said on Facebook.

He thanked the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross for their support for the evacuation efforts.

According to Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, the evacuation began at 4 pm local time (1300 GMT) on Sunday.

The evacuation from Mariupol was the centerpiece of talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday.  

Mariupol is the largest Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov, one of the key metallurgical centers of the Donbass region and a seaport. The Azovstal steel plant was considered to be the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol

Mariupol is the largest Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov, one of the key metallurgical centers of the Donbass region and a seaport. The Azovstal steel plant was considered to be the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol.

There are thought to be hundreds of people inside the steel complex, including dozens injured during an intense Russian bombardment over the past several weeks. The latest satellite images show that many of the plant's buildings have been reduced to rubble.

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French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone with Ukrainian Zelensky on Saturday and reaffirmed his willingness to work actively during his second term of office "to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine".

An Elysee Palace statement said Macron expressed concern about the continued bombing of Ukrainian cities and the "unbearable" situation in Mariupol.

The phone call was made as actress Angelina Jolie, who is also a United Nations special envoy for refugees, visited a boarding school and medical institution in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The UN Refugee Agency's head of global communications, Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams, told CNN on Saturday that Jolie "is traveling to the region in her personal capacity and (the UN High Commissioner for Refugees) has no involvement" in the visit.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Yermakov, the head of nuclear nonproliferation for Russia's Foreign Ministry, was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying on Saturday that dialogue between Moscow and Washington on strategic stability is formally "frozen".

Yermakov said those contacts could be resumed once Russia completes what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

He said Moscow believed the United States intended to finalize projects to deploy medium- and short-range missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

"The emergence of such weapons in those regions will further worsen the situation and fuel the arms race," he said.

Yermakov also said that the risks of nuclear war should be kept to a minimum and any armed conflict between nuclear powers should be prevented.

Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for Russia's defense ministry, said Russian aircraft struck five Ukrainian ammunition depots on Saturday.

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