The Ukrainian army reports that it is working hard to evacuate all soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. As a result, the last Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged city fell to Russian troops.
“The Mariupol garrison has fulfilled its combat mission,” the general staff of the Ukrainian army said in a statement. “The Supreme Military Command has ordered the commanders of the troops stationed at the Azovstal factory to save the soldiers’ lives. The Mariupol defenders are the heroes of our time,” the army said.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar announced that 53 seriously injured servicemen from the factory had been transferred to a hospital in the Russian-controlled city of Novoazovsk for treatment. In addition, 211 soldiers have been taken via a humanitarian corridor to Olenivka, a town in the area controlled by the Russian-backed separatists. According to the deputy minister, all evacuated soldiers will be part of a prisoner exchange.
Ukrainian soldiers held back Russian troops in Azovstal for nearly three months. The Russians decided not to storm the factory but had surrounded it and bombarded the extensive grounds where hundreds of soldiers had entrenched themselves in bunkers and underground passages. According to earlier reports, there are still six hundred soldiers in the steel factory. The Ukrainian army said it is working to evacuate those still there.
According to the army, the fighters prevented Russian troops from advancing toward the southern city of Zaporizhzhya by holding out. “The military who defended Mariupol have given Ukraine precious time to build up reserves, regroup and get help from partners,” the deputy minister said.