Soldiers trapped in the steel plants of Azovstal in the besieged city of Mariupol are completely cut off from the outside world and all supply lines. They are fully aware that every day can be their last.
They have no military opportunity to fight their way out of the steel mills with their own help, and their last hope is for help to come from abroad. Preferably in the form of a political solution.
Inside the steel mills, video messages and photos describe the dire need for help. There were reportedly 600 wounded soldiers who had to be evacuated.
Impressed: the photos published by the Azov battalion at the steel mills show wounded soldiers who have lost an arm or a leg or were wounded in the face, and who also live in extremely unsanitary conditions.
Outside, a group of relatives fight a desperate battle for the lives of their loved ones. One of them is the mother of Ilya Samojenko, intelligence officer of the Azov Battalion, Alla Samolyenko.
He often acts as a spokesperson when the battalion from the steel mills speaks to the international media.
– When I speak to him, I ask him if he can tell me what I am allowed to know. I don’t ask what they eat, if they have more weapons, how long they can stand against the Russians, if they have hope of being rescued, etc., Samojlenko tells TV 2.
Ilya Samojenko fought with Azov at the front from 2015 to 2017, and then was seriously wounded. He lost his hand and an eye, and was on the verge of death. After a year of rehabilitation, he returned to service and went on a mission in Mariupol on February 20, four days before the invasion.
I sincerely hope that their military prowess will allow them to survive. She says they are well prepared and understand what they are doing.
She says the imprisoned soldiers are now actively communicating with the media and politicians to get attention about the situation. This is the little hope they cling to.
Kicked out when warned
– It’s a little silly. It was these boys who tried to convince everyone that a great war was on the way, and they were met with strong condemnation. They were expelled from society and criticized for their rhetoric and viewed as extremist and aggressive. And now we see they were right, she says.
The Azov Battalion is a controversial group. Many soldiers have a far-right nationalist background, but are now part of the Ukrainian National Guard. The National Guard can be compared to the Norwegian National Guard.
– Why did Ilya choose to serve in the Azov battalion?
– My son, like me, was interested in history. Playing military strategy games, he developed a keen interest in modern history. He knew a lot about weapons, military aircraft, tanks and firearms. Later he was trained so well that he joined a group that trains others. She says that it was logical that they ended up in Azov.
Azov focuses on motivated soldiers, and their training follows NATO standards.
– Outside Ukraine, the battalion is of great interest, and one wonders how Ilya and the others can maintain such a strong will to fight and withstand. What can you say about it?
– This is his character. He probably got it from me, because I’m also a stoic person. Panic or destructive thoughts are not uncommon for me. He has been as you see him since he was born. His mom says, I just gave him freedom.
It also emphasizes the extensive training, comprehensive preparation and psychological assistance the battalion receives.
– It is a powerful and highly mobile combat unit that knows how to fight the enemy. Despite their limited resources, they destroyed ten percent of the Russian equipment that entered Ukraine since the start of the war.
– Not keeping such an effective unit criminal means.
She has high thoughts about her son. She describes him as highly intelligent, well educated and with a strong sense of justice. He is also a good writer and speaker, according to his mother.
– What do you think could be the solution for the soldiers in Mariupol?
– It looks like a scene from the movie “Do not look”: when the Russians prepared the war, when no one thought it would happen, when they did not evacuate Mariupol, says Alla.
Soldiers in Mariupol have been asking for help since the beginning of March. That was before a hundred kilometer long attack front was established. In theory, they could be released and evacuated from Mariupol. She says it didn’t happen.
They kept the desperate situation a secret until a month ago in the hope that the Ukrainian authorities would find a solution for them. Now they feel that they were waiting for help that never came, and they think that the politicians have let them down.
– Only a special operation with the participation of influential countries or NATO can help evacuate the soldiers now. Countries that have not severed ties with Russia can help: Turkey, Israel, China, and possibly Greece as well. Otherwise we need a miracle, says Samojenko.
– You want a cup
Hundreds of civilians trapped in steel mills were also evacuated. Three Azov soldiers were killed and six wounded during these evacuations because the Russians had violated the ceasefire.
As the intense attacks continue, Alla Samojenko is convinced that the Russians will obtain the Mariupol garrison as booty, at any cost.
– How do you feel when you talk to your son now?
I try to see the signs that can give me a reason to think positively. I never dig too deep. Sometimes he sent him articles written about him, sometimes he commented on them. She says he never panics, and motivates me to put my panic thoughts aside.
My only wish is for him to come out alive. This is. When I talk to him, I see and feel that he is not going to die.
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