The heavily besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol that became a focus of international attention for its humanitarian situation was a key subject of contention Tuesday during a joint press conference between United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

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The humanitarian situation in Mariupol is a “crisis within a crisis,” Guterres saidadding the UN is ready to “fully mobilize” to support evacuation efforts in the city, where attempts to evacuate an estimated 1,000 civilians from the Azovstal steel plant that’s now the site of the last remaining Ukrainian defenders of the city have repeatedly failed.

Lavrov downplayed the situation in Mariupol, saying Ukraine is playing up the crisis as a “theatrical” gesture and dismissed the idea of ​​talks to evacuate civilians because Ukraine has yet to address Russia’s high-level demands in general negotiations.


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