Ukrainian civilians desperately try to flee the hellscape of Mariupol amid Russian attacks

The first evacuations from a steel plant in Mariupol, site of the last stand by Ukrainian troops, continued Monday a day after 100 civilians were freed. But more than 100,000 Ukrainians remain in the city, which has now been besieged for two months. And in Moscow, Russia's foreign minister ignited a firestorm with a claim that Adolf Hitler had Jewish heritage. Nick Schifrin reports from Ukraine.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The first evacuate from a steel plant in Mariupol, the site of a last stand by Ukrainian troops, continued today at an excruciating, slow pace.

    Meanwhile, in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ignited a rhetorical firestorm, saying in an interview that Adolf Hitler had Jewish heritage when asked how Russia could claim to be denazifying Ukraine. The remark was widely denounced, most forcefully in Israel, which summoned the Russian ambassador for an explanation.

    In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):

    Mr. Lavrov's comments are just sickening and deserve to be condemned by all who oppose the dangers of antisemitism.

    They tap into the very old and very poisonous notion that the Jewish people themselves were the architects of the worst human atrocities of modern history, even when they were aimed at Jews themselves. Mr. Foreign Minister, you're fooling no one.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Zelenskyy also denounced the remarks. He is Jewish and some of his relatives were killed in the Holocaust.

    Elsewhere in Ukraine, a missile strike hit the city — the port city of Odessa in the southwest of the country. But the focus remains on the hellscape that is Mariupol in the far southeast and the drive to get its people out.

    From Ukraine, Nick Schifrin begins our coverage.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Two months of hiding, endless negotiations, and a mile-long convoy emerges from the heart of darkness. Above all, relief for families who did not know whether they would live or die, did not have access to the outside world.

    They cowered in the basement of Mariupol's massive Azovstal steel plant, the final hideout for civilians and soldiers from Russia's bombardment. Those same Russians released this footage today inside Russian-occupied territory of the people they'd besieged, describing horrors inflicted on lives and homes.

    Olga Savina is 65.

  • Olga Savina, Evacuated From Azovstal (through translator):

    There is no house anymore. Of course, there isn't.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Ukrainian soldiers released their own video, helping civilians emerge from the plant and walking through devastation. Some are barely older than the war.

    They drive past decimated landscapes and are handed over to the U.N. and ICRC, who walk them across no man's land. But, tonight, Russians blocked them from entering Ukrainian territory, and, back in Mariupol, more than 100,000 residents still trapped.

    Sergei Orlov, Deputy Mayor of Mariupol, Ukraine: One hundred and thirty thousand citizens that are still in Mariupol, all of them are hostages.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Sergei Orlov is Mariupol's deputy mayor. We spoke to him by Skype from the nearest Ukrainian-held city, Zaporizhzhia.

  • Sergei Orlov:

    They do not allow them to locate to Ukrainian-controlled territory. They continue deportation of our citizens. You know that, in our estimation, about 40,000 citizens are deported to Russia.

    And it is genocide. It's absolute genocide. Russia wants to continue this deportation just to kill Ukraine as a nation.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Orlov sent us photos from Mariupol from the last few days, families with no electricity, natural gas, heating, or water, and of the cars they used to escape, damaged by relentless Russian shelling, no family left unspared.

    You and I have spoken multiple times over the last few months and you have said that you haven't been able to reach your own family. Have you been able to talk to them since?

  • Sergei Orlov:

    They moved all this way through temporary occupied territory, through Russia. And, unfortunately, my father died on this way in Russia.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    I'm so sorry to hear that. My condolences.

  • Sergei Orlov:

    Thank you.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And so what's the future of Mariupol under these conditions? Is there any?

  • Sergei Orlov:

    We are absolutely sure that we will return. We will return our Ukrainian Mariupol. Of course, it's totally destroyed, but we will rebuild them.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    A nation of resilience, but also of refugees. The U.N. today said 5.5 million have left their homes and country.

    The majority fled to Poland, where, today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met Polish President Andrzej Duda, one day after an unannounced trip to Kyiv to see Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and promised long-term U.S. support.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

    America stands with Ukraine. We stand with Ukraine until victory is won.

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