Last defenders of Mariupol: Azov regiment does not surrender and hopes for help. Video
The battle being waged by the Ukrainian Azov Regiment surrounded by Russian troops at Azovstal, a steel plant in fully captured Mariupol, has entered a critical phase.
About 2,000 civilians, who hid in bunkers of the plant for two months, have managed to evacuate. But the fighters remain hostage and prepare to give their last stand, refusing to surrender, and still hoping that they can be rescued.
On May 8, the last defenders of Mariupol held a unique two-hour briefing via Zoom video link. They also called on the authorities to do more to save them.
Highlights of the briefing and subsequent messages from the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and his adviser Oleksiy Arestovich:
What did the Azov fighters say?
Officer Ilya Samoilenko:
● Azovstal is under constant heavy fire from Russian troops as they try to capture the last remaining stronghold in this important port city on the Sea of Azov. The Russians carry out their attacks with artillery, tanks, mortars, infantry and snipers.
● Over the past night, more than 25 enemy air sorties were made, including three strategic bombers. Russian troops entered the fence in the immediate vicinity of the positions of the Azov regiment.
● Fighters are limited in supplies, but they still have enough water and ammo to withstand the attack.
● Over the past three days, civilians have been evacuated from the plant. However, some people may still be trapped [under the rubble].
● At least 25,000 people died in Mariupol, most of them civilians.
● The Ukrainian government failed to prepare for the defense of the city.
● Azov fighters killed 2,500 Russians and injured 5,000.
● More than 60 enemy tanks were also destroyed. These are the regiment’s calculations for the period from February 24 to April 15.
● The defenders of Azovstal cannot surrender because it would be a “gift” to the Russians and Russian propaganda. The Russian military will simply kill the members of the Azov Regiment.
● It is not possible to leave the factory. Ilya Samoylenko reported that the commander of the 36th Marine Brigade, Vladimir Baranyuk, refused to obey the order and tried to escape from the city with a small group, but was captured by the Russians. He called Baranyuk’s decision cowardice.
● The military at Azovstal has been ordered to hold the line. “The fighters will stand as long as necessary”.
● Most defenders are in touch with their relatives. It inspires them.
● The Azov Regiment asks to evacuate not only the soldiers [who continue to hold the plant] and the wounded but also the fallen defenders.
● Fighters expect more decisive action from the [Ukrainian] authorities and the world.
Deputy Commander of the Azov Regiment Svyatoslav Palamar:
● “The situation at Azovstal is catastrophic. I will not announce the number of dead. We are talking about hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers. About 600 people were wounded.
● But this figure is increasing every day, as is the death toll. We do not even know exactly how many bodies of the military we could not pick up from the rubble.
● I believe that Russia also needs to collect the bodies of their soldiers.
● This requires a ceasefire and an agreement on both sides to collect the bodies of the dead. It’s warm outside now. The bodies begin to decompose and poison everything”.
Appeal to the government:
“We showed what it means to do the impossible. Now you do your job and show what it means to do the impossible”.
The wife of Azov commander Denis Prokopenko called on all Ukrainians to join all initiatives that could speed up the evacuation or promote publicity in the world. She said that the Ukrainian authorities, in her opinion, are not doing enough to evacuate [the defenders of Mariupol].
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Zelensky: negotiators from Turkey, Israel, Switzerland, France, the UN, from the Red Cross are in touch
“It is impossible to unblock the city of Mariupol by military means. This is not possible today. And we talked about it openly. Ukraine does not have such heavy weapons to unlock Mariupol by military means”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on May 8.
“The diplomatic path has led to the fact that today all civilians have been evacuated from the blocked Azovstal plant, but the Russian military and the political leadership of the Russian Federation do not want to let our military out.
Negotiators from Turkey, Israel, and Switzerland are invited to help in this matter. In addition, France, the UN, and representatives of the leadership of the International Committee of the Red Cross tried to resolve this issue.
Russia exchanges the military only if they are prisoners, for prisoners. This is a response from the Russian Federation. There are no other answers”, Zelensky said.
Arestovich: “I have a godson in Mariupol and my best fighting friend in Azovstal”
Aleksey Arestovich, the adviser to the president of Ukraine, took a hard line on those critics of the president and the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who believe that the authorities are not doing enough to save Ukrainian fighters from Azovstal:
“All sorts of f..cking, shameless people, who speculate day and night, saying that there are solutions [to release], the authorities just don’t want to do it, that not all the efforts of the authorities have been made. And the two main words that I hear in the president’s office are “Mariupol” and “Azovstal”.
Someone really wants the president’s office to be the one to blame. I will remind these people that the war is far from over. I have a small one in Mariupol – a godson and an even better fighting friend in Azovstal, do I want them dead?”
The Azov regiment, surrounded by Russian troops at Azovstal, hopes it’ll be rescued by the authorities of Ukraine and the West