Zaporizhzhia: Russian forces have launched a major assault on the holdout Azovstal steel plant in the devastated port city of Mariupol while pounding sites across eastern Ukraine, as the European Union moves to punish Moscow with oil sanctions.
Three months into the war, Moscow has focused its fresh offensive on Ukraine’s east and south, while Western allies continue to provide Kyiv with cash and weapons in a bid to force Russian leader Vladimir Putin to pull back.
In one of a series of assaults Tuesday, 21 civilians were killed and another 28 wounded in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, local authorities said.
Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said 10 of the 21 dead were killed in the shelling of the Avdiivka coke plant, one of Europe’s largest, calling it the highest daily death toll since a Russian strike on a train station in Kramatorsk about a month ago.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksky, meanwhile, said more than 150 people had been successfully extracted in Mariupol evacuation operations.
“Today, 156 people arrived in (the Ukrainian-held city) Zaporizhzhia. Women and children. They have been in shelters for more than two months,” Zelensky said in a daily address.
Further evacuations from the city were to take place Wednesday with the help of the United Nations and the Red Cross, a Mariupol mayoral adviser said.
But Osnat Lubrani, UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, has warned there “may be more civilians who remain trapped” in the immense underground galleries of the Azovstal steelworks.
As Russia’s renewed campaign in eastern Ukraine intensified, EU officials on Tuesday handed a draft plan to member states on a new package of sanctions aimed at Moscow.
But several EU officials and European diplomats in Brussels told the Media there were divisions, with at least one member state jockeying to opt out of an oil embargo.
Ambassadors from the 27 European Union countries will meet Wednesday to give the plan a once-over, and it will need unanimous approval before going into effect.
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