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Women, children, elderly exit besieged Ukrainian steel plant

Ukrainian self-propelled artillery fires against Russian forces in the area of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 7, 2022. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) (Str/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
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A high-ranking Ukrainian official and the Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that all women, children and the elderly had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians were trapped for weeks amid an intense Russian assault.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Telegram post that “this part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed.” Ukrainian fighters are still holed up at the sprawling plant complex — and a regional police leader told The Washington Post that three were killed Friday during the civilian evacuation. Ukraine will continue its efforts to move its people out of the area, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday.

Russia aims to capture the plant — the last sliver of Mariupol still under Ukrainian control — and is pressuring the soldiers there to surrender. Control of Mariupol would allow Russia to establish a land bridge with annexed Crimea.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in Ukraine’s east, with Kyiv accusing Russian forces Saturday of blowing up three bridges northeast of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, to prevent counterattacks. Russian forces bombed a Luhansk school where 90 people were taking shelter; at least two people died, the region’s governor said. In the south, Russian forces launched cruise missiles at the Black Sea port of Odessa on Saturday, hitting a civilian target, according to the Ukrainian military.

Here’s what else to know

  • First lady Jill Biden, who is in Romania as part of a four-day trip to Eastern Europe, met Ukrainian refugee students and their mothers Saturday at a school in Bucharest.
  • President Biden and other Group of Seven leaders will meet online with Zelensky on Sunday to discuss ways to support Ukraine and “impose severe costs” on Russia for its invasion, the White House said.
  • By comparing Ukraine to Nazi Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying “to twist history” to justify the war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.