Russian forces have closed off an area in Mariupol, potentially ahead of another attempt to storm the Azovstal steel plant, a Ukrainian official has said.
“For now, the occupiers closed the square of the Left Bank district from Veselka Park again. This may be due to another attempt to storm Azovstal or street fights,” said Petro Andrushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol.
Veselka Park is situated to the north of Azovstal.
Andrushchenko also spoke about Russian efforts to take over more government functions in Mariupol.
He said the Russians’ allies in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic were trying to “nationalize” Ukrainian property, such as the port.
On Thursday, DPR head Denis Pushilin said the seaport was being cleared and reconstruction begun, and “the port will be fully functional, we plan to make the first shipment in May.”
Andrushchenko also said the Russians were also beginning a property census in parts of Mariupol, “despite public objections.”
The census will assess the state of high-rise buildings in the southern port city, as well as surviving apartments and their owners, he said.
“Yesterday in Mariupol the occupiers issued the first birth certificate for the last month. For the first time in Mariupol, a Russian terrorist satellite has officially stolen the citizenship of our Ukrainian child,” Andrushchenko added.
Andrushchenko comments came hours after the Ukrainian President’s office said renewed efforts would be made to get civilians out of the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
Some background: In recent days Russian forces have stepped up attacks on the sprawling Azovstal industrial complex, as part of their efforts to fully capture Mariupol.
Yuriy Ryzhenkov, CEO of Metinvest Holding which owns the plant, described the scene as “a humanitarian disaster.”
“The city’s literally under siege for almost two months now. And the Russians, they don’t allow us to bring food into the city or water into the city,” Ryzhenkov told CNN.
Built in 1933 under Soviet rule, the plant was partially demolished during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s before being rebuilt.
Now it is gone again — its carcass sheltering Ukrainian soldiers and around 1,000 civilians in a maze of underground chambers, according to Ukrainian officials.
Azovstal has since become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against Russia’s unrelenting military assault on Ukraine.
CNN’s Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Isa Soares, Madalena Araujo and Oleksandra Ochman contributed reporting to this post.
Russians blocking part of Mariupol ahead of “another attempt to storm Azovstal” steel plant, says Ukrainian official