“Combat mission” over in Mariupol as the last of the Ukrainian forces are evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine further stated that commanders of troops stationed near the city’s enormous Azovstal steelworks plant had been told: “to save the lives of their personnel.”
Hundreds of people were evacuated from the steel mill on Monday, the final bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the face of unrelenting Russian shelling.
In a separate video statement, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar outlined the evacuation operation, stressing that some Ukrainian personnel remains at Azovstal.
“Fifty-three seriously injured people were evacuated from Azovstal to a medical facility in Novoazovsk for medical care,” she said. “Another 211 people were taken to Olenivka through the humanitarian corridor.”
An “exchange procedure” will see the evacuees eventually brought home, Malyar also said.
“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday in a statement about the evacuation, thanking the Ukrainian military and negotiators, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the United Nations.
“The 82nd day of our defense is coming to an end. A difficult day. But this day, like all others, is aimed precisely at saving our country and our people,” Zelensky said.
Since Russia’s invasion in February, Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov, has seen some of the most violent fightings in Ukraine.
Many civilians have been evacuated already. Despite being besieged, low on ammunition, and outmanned by Russian forces, Ukrainian fighters in the city pledged to “fight till the end” in April.
On Monday, the Russian television network RT broadcast footage of 10 to 12 buses leaving the steel facility. The buses appeared to be a mix of hospital and public transportation, with some bearing a red cross.