Ukraine proposes talks with Russia near besieged Mariupol plant




This handout video grab taken from a footage released by Mariupol City Council on April 19, 2022 shows clouds of smoke billowing above Azovstal steel plant and the destroyed gates of Azov Shipyard, as Russia continues its push to capture the besieged port city of Mariupol. (Photo by Handout / Mariupol City Council / AFP) /

 

KYIV, Ukraine (AFP) — Ukraine has invited Russia to talks near the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are holding out in a city largely under Moscow’s control, Kyiv said Sunday.

Talks near the sprawling steel works would provide a dramatic and symbolic backdrop because the site is the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the strategic port.

“We invited Russians to hold a special round of talks on the spot right next to the walls of Azovstal,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Earlier in the day, Kyiv called for a truce in battered Mariupol for Orthodox Easter, celebrated in both Russia and Ukraine.

“Russia is continuously attacking the Mariupol Azovstal. The place where our civilians and military are located is shelled with heavy air bombs and artillery,” Zelensky advisor Mikhaylo Podolyak, said on Twitter.

The nationalist Azov regiment, at the forefront of the battles with Russian forces, has confirmed that civilians are also trapped in the plant.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces not to assault the plant this week, but to keep it under siege instead.

© Agence France-Presse



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