Russian troops on Monday launched an “assault operation” with tank and artillery attacks on the Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold of resistance in the port city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

Russia has declared victory in Mariupol, a strategic city on the Sea of ​​Azov that allows it to link the Donbas region with the annexed Crimean peninsula, but the sprawling steel mill remains in the hands of Ukrainian fighters. Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk gave few details and the information could not be independently verified.

“The enemy continues to blockade our units in the Azovstal factory area and is conducting assault operations with the support of tanks and artillery fire,” he told an online briefing, not ruling out Moscow stepping up its attack. “with Tu-22 M3 bombers.”

The new alleged assault would take place when all the women, children and elderly civilians who were taking refuge in the basements of the metallurgical plant have already been evacuated.

Missiles against Odessa

On the other hand, Ukrainian officials reported heavy fighting in the east of the country while the Governor of Mykolaiv, in the southwest, denounced heavy shelling at night. In Kharkov, three civilians have been killed in a Russian attack and another three have died in the Luhansk area.

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Odessa, also in the southwest, was hit by high-precision Onyx missiles launched from the Crimean peninsula. During the attack, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, was visiting the city and had to take refuge until the danger passed.

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“The Kremlin wants to ‘execute’ their spirit of freedom and democracy. But I am totally convinced that they will never succeed. I have come to Odessa on Europe Day with a simple message: you are not alone. We are with you. disappoint. We will be with you as long as it takes,” Michel told the Ukrainians in a video message posted on their social media.

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