MARIUPOL, Ukraine. — A Ukrainian commander in Mariupol is pleading for a Dunkirk-style evacuation of troops and civilians.
The commander said in a video shared by Ukrainian officials that the situation is “grave,” with 600 wounded soldiers, as well as children and elderly people holed up in a steel factory.
Mariupol was the scene of one of Russia’s more violent offensives, with more casualties likely.
The Dunkirk rescue refers to when hundreds of Navy and civilian-marshaled ships were used to save British and French troops surrounded by the German army in 1940.
The U.N. Secretary-General is hoping a trip to Ukraine will bring peace and the evacuation of civilians.
Antonio Guterres is in Ukraine after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and agreeing in principle on civilian relief in the besieged city of Mariupol.
Guterres, Ukrainian President Zelensky, and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister are holding talks as European leaders accuse Russia of blackmail after cutting off natural gas to parts of the continent.
Despite crippling sanctions on Russian goods, Russia has taken in about $66 billion in oil, gas, and coal sales since it invaded neighboring Ukraine.
A study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air found Moscow has nearly doubled its revenue from fossil fuel sales since late February when Russian troops began attacking Ukraine.
According to the study, Germany has imported more than any other country, spending more than $9.6 billion dollars, and Italy is second, followed by China, the Netherlands, Turkey, and France.
The authors of the study call fossil fuel exports “a key enabler of Russia’s military buildup and brutal aggression against Ukraine.”