Ukraine’s Azov regiment has released a video purportedly showing its fighters bringing food and other aid to women and children sheltering in one of underground bunkers at the Azovstal plant – the last part of Mariupol not under Russian control.
In the footage women and children – seen in a crowded room – can be heard saying they are now running out of food and water, and pleading to be evacuated from the besieged southern city.
A number of those filmed say they have been trapped underground for weeks, with one girl saying she hasn’t seen the daylight since 27 February – the fourth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Big signs reading “Children” in red paint are seen on the walls of the bunker. One woman is heard saying more than 15 children – from babies to those aged 14 – are sheltering in the building.
The video – believed to be filmed on 21 April – has not been verified by the BBC.
The Azovstal steelworks – a maze of tunnels and workshops – is a huge industrial site in central Mariupol. It’s almost like a city within a city.
Earlier this week, one of the commanders of Azov – who alongside a Ukrainian Marine brigade, border guards and police officers are still defending Mariupol – told the BBC that many civilians, including children, were sheltering at the site. He also said wounded and dead fighters were there.
Much of Mariupol has been destroyed in weeks of heavy Russian bombardment and intense street fighting.
This week, President Vladimir Putin called off a planned Russian assault on the steelworks, and ordered his troops to seal it off instead.
Taking the Sea of Azov port is a key Russian war aim and would release more troops to join a Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region.