Over 50 civilians evacuated from last Ukrainian holdout

Over 50 civilians evacuated from last Ukrainian holdout

This handout satellite image released 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. Over 50 civilians were evacuated on Saturday from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, after a cease-fire was introduced, SATELLITE IMAGE 2022 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES AFP

Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, said the cease-fire, which was supposed to begin at 6 am local time, started at 11 am.

He said that we hope that this process will be extended and that we will successfully evacuate all civilians.

Russia said 46 civilians had left the area near the Azovstal plant on Saturday.

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

Hundreds of people have been injured in the steel complex, including hundreds of 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.

On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone, and reaffirmed his willingness to work actively during his second term to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. 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 by actress Angelina Jolie, who is also a UN special envoy for refugees, visited a boarding school and medical institution in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

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

Vladimir Yermakov, head of nuclear non-proliferation for Russia's Foreign Ministry, was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying that Russian-based dialogue between Moscow and Washington on strategic stability is formally frozen. Yermakov said that contacts could be resumed once Russia completes what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

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

He said that the emergence of such weapons in those regions will cause the situation to worsen and fuel the arms race.

Yermakov said 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.

READ MORE: Ukraine wants to seize Russia's assets for post-conflict recovery.