Russian forces continue to bomb the Azovstal factory in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, at the same time increasing the siege of the port city, the Ukrainian Armed Forces said today.

The aerial bombardment comes at a time when Ukraine has proposed to Moscow to exchange Russian prisoners for the removal of wounded fighters who remain underground at the metallurgical facility, the last bastion of the Ukrainian armed presence in Mariupol.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said that negotiations were underway to withdraw the fighters, but that despite the various options “none is ideal”.

An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol said on Thursday that Russian forces had blocked all avenues of retreat from the city.

Petro Andriushchenko said that there are very few habitable apartments left and that the shortage of food and drinking water is dramatic.

The councilor to the mayor mentioned that some residents are obliged to cooperate with the occupying forces in exchange for food.

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