The General Staff of the Ukrainian Army says that orders were given to save the lives of soldiers stationed at the Azovstal steel plants. For several weeks, they have been surrounded and subjected to almost continuous Russian attacks.
“We hope to save the lives of our men,” asserts President Volodymyr Zelensky.
– I want to stress: Ukraine needs its Ukrainian heroes alive. “This is our principle,” he said in a video statement.
were evacuated with injuries
On Monday, Russia and Ukraine agreed to a ceasefire to evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel plants, and more than 260 Ukrainian soldiers were evacuated.
– 53 seriously injured people were evacuated from Azovstal to Novoazovsk for treatment, Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Hanna Malgar said in a statement.
Reuters published pictures of buses arriving in Novoazovsk in Donetsk escorted by pro-Russian forces.
Another 211 soldiers were evacuated via humanitarian corridors to another Russian-controlled city, Olenivka. These soldiers are being returned to Ukraine as part of an agreement with Russia on prisoner exchange.
Working on getting more soldiers
In recent days, Russia and Ukraine have negotiated an agreement guaranteeing freedom of movement for Ukrainian soldiers detained inside steel mills. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verychuk described the negotiations as “extremely difficult”.
It reported last week that there were more than 1,000 soldiers left in the steel mills, and hundreds of them were injured.
Deputy Defense Minister Malghar now says that work is under way to get the soldiers out of the steel mills.
– Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol. Ukraine decisively won, and they followed their orders. But she says that it is impossible to break the siege of Azovstal by military means.
The siege lasted more than 80 days
The heavily bombed steel mills were the last remaining stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the city, which were besieged soon after the Russian invasion began on February 24.
Several civilians were also at the steel mills, but most were evacuated last month with help from the United Nations and the Red Cross.
The strategically located coastal city has been subjected to heavy bombardment since the beginning of the invasion. By controlling the city, Russia has secured a land bridge between separatist-held Donbass and Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, and controls more than 80 percent of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.
– By concentrating the main enemy forces around Mariupol, we had the opportunity to prepare and create lines of defense, where today our forces are ready to repel the attacker. It gave us crucial time to form reserves, regroup forces and receive assistance from partners, as stated in A statment From the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army.
Soldiers are welcomed
The Ukrainian Defense paid tribute to the soldiers who have been working in steel plants for 82 days.
– They followed orders and persevered against a superior enemy, says Denis Prokopenko, commander of the Azov battalion, in a video address, according to the newspaper. Kyiv Independent.
President Zelensky thanks soldiers in Post V cable.
“Thanks to the Ukrainian army, the Ukrainian armed forces, intelligence, the negotiating team, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, we hope that we can save the lives of our people,” he wrote.
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