Around 100 Ukrainian civilians were being evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on May 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, after the United Nations confirmed a “safe passage operation” was in progress there.
“Grateful to our team! Now they, together with [United Nations], are working on the evacuation of other civilians from the plant,” Zelenskiy said on Twitter.
The evacuees would reach the city of Zaporizhzhya on May 2, he added.
The long-awaited rescue came as the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, pledged continued U.S. support for Ukraine when she met Zelenskiy in an unannounced visit to Kyiv.
Zelenskiy posted videos from the unannounced April 30 visit by Pelosi online on May 1.
“We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom,” Pelosi told Zelenskiy. “We are on a frontier of freedom, and your fight is for everyone. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.”
Pelosi arrived in the Ukrainian capital with a delegation that included House members Jason Crow (Democrat-Colorado), Jim McGovern (Democrat-Massachusetts), and Adam Shiff (Democrat-California). The trip had not been previously announced and comes when the United States and other countries are ramping up military aid and other support for Ukraine.
Pelosi said the delegation “delivered the message that additional American support is on the way.”
U.S. President Joe Biden last week asked Congress for a $33 billion aid package for Ukraine.
Zelenskiy posted on Twitter: “The U.S. is leading strong support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.”