Belarus admits Russia’s war ‘drags on’
Second stage of Mariupol evacuation completed, says Zelenskyy
Kyiv: Ukrainian fighters in the tunnels underneath Mariupol’s pulverized steel plant held out against Russian troops Thursday in an increasingly desperate and perhaps doomed effort to deny Moscow what would be its biggest success of the war yet: the complete capture of the strategic port city.
Heavy fighting raged Thursday at the shattered steel plant in Mariupol as Russian forces sought to finish off the city’s last-ditch defenders and complete the capture of the strategically vital Ukrainian port. The bloody battle came amid growing suspicions that President Vladimir Putin wants to present the Russian people with a major battlefield success in time for Victory Day on Monday. That is the biggest patriotic holiday on the Russian calendar, marking the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany.
The head of Britain’s armed forces, Chief of the Defense Staff Adm. Tony Radakin, said Putin is “trying to rush to a tactical victory” before Victory Day. But he said Russian forces are struggling to gain momentum in the Donbas.
Meanwhile, 10 weeks into the devastating war, Ukraine’s military claimed it recaptured some areas in the south and repelled other attacks in the east, further frustrating Putin’s ambitions after his abortive attempt to seize Kyiv. Ukrainian and Russian forces are fighting village by village.
Fearful of new attacks surrounding Victory Day, the mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk urged residents to leave for the countryside over the long weekend and warned them not to gather in public places. And the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, a key transit point for evacuees from Mariupol, announced a curfew from Sunday evening through Tuesday morning.
However, with the challenge of mine-clearing and rebuilding after the war in mind, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the launch of a global fundraising platform called “United24.” In addition, a Ukrainian cabinet body began to develop proposals for a comprehensive postwar reconstruction plan, while Zelenskyy also urged Western allies to put forward a program similar to the post-World War II Marshall Plan, a plan to help Ukraine rebuild.