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Ukranian officials say Russia bombed a theater and art school in Mariupol

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

For a closer look at the situation in Mariupol, we turn to an adviser to the city's mayor, Petro Andrushchenko. I asked him about Russia's demand for Mariupol to surrender in exchange for safe passage out of the city for its residents.

PETRO ANDRUSHCHENKO: You know, all the Russians said - it's absolutely lie. They blocked our city, destroy our city and kill our people. So when they said that about humanitary (ph) corridor or something else, it's absolutely lie.

FADEL: Yes. They said that - lay down your weapons, and we'll create humanitarian corridors. And you're saying that's a lie.

ANDRUSHCHENKO: Yeah, of course, because they don't want to save our people. It's not a true step for peace, for safe people because they still kill our people, day by day, hour by hour.

FADEL: Can you describe the situation in your city right now?

ANDRUSHCHENKO: The situation is terrible because all our people must live in bomb shelters without any electricity, without any water, without heating and just without food now because our food resource empty. The Russian tried - blocked any way for us to get some humanitary goods for our people.

FADEL: Recently, a Russian strike hit a crowded theater in Mariupol where hundreds of people were seeking shelter. And we've heard about another attack on an art school where President Zelenskyy said about 400 people were taking refuge. What are first responders finding there? Do you know?

ANDRUSHCHENKO: We try to find our people and help him, but it's - in this situation, it's impossible because every minute we have a Russian attack. And it's very dangerous for the people who try to help.

FADEL: So it's even hard to show up to try to dig people out because they may risk getting hit by another Russian attack.

ANDRUSHCHENKO: Yeah, absolutely.

FADEL: At this point, how many civilians have been killed in your city?

ANDRUSHCHENKO: The last numbers - official numbers - were at about 2,000 people.

FADEL: We've also seen reports of residents being forced to go to Russia by Russian forces. Do you know anything about this?

ANDRUSHCHENKO: Yeah. The Russian force us away from any districts and any area that they try to control. First step of Russian army and Russian government - it's forced evacuation to Russia. When it happened, our people didn't know anything about what destination. When they said is it evacuation, they - our people think it's to Ukrainian control. But after that, we know that thousands people forced evacuation - evacuated to Russia, an economically depressed city.

FADEL: What do you want to say to the international community right now about what residents of Mariupol need?

ANDRUSHCHENKO: First of all, we need the closed sky in Ukraine because the most dangerous thing for us is - first of all, is missiles and aircrafts. That destroy and killed more people than ground forces. And the second, what we can to say - we absolutely sure that Putin don't stop in Ukraine. So he want more, and he want other European countries - Baltic countries, Poland and other countries. So we need a real army help from international community.

FADEL: How are you? How is your family? Is everyone safe?

ANDRUSHCHENKO: Yeah, my family is safe. And it's the first question for everyone who fight with Russian forces. It's one of the main questions for every man in Ukraine - to get safe for our families. And after that, we go to fight. All our country and all our people now fight with the Russians.

FADEL: Petro Andrushchenko, adviser to Mariupol's mayor, thank you so much for your time.

ANDRUSHCHENKO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.