After 82 days of defending Mariupol, the Ukrainian troops holding out at Mariupol’s Azovstal Iron and Steelworks Plant have been evacuated to safety. It was reported that some 260 Ukrainian soldiers were evacuated, signaling the potential end of the Battle of Mariupol and the start of the Russian occupation of the bombarded city.

According to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, 211 soldiers were evacuated and transported to Olenivka through a humanitarian corridor, and 53 others were transported to a hospital in Novoazovsk, a Russian-controlled city.

“Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol, Ukraine gained critically important time,” Mailiar stated. “And they fulfilled all their tasks. But it is impossible to unblock Azovstal by military means.”

While it is not yet officially announced that Mariupol has fallen, the city is expected to fall to Russian control if evacuations continue and if the Russians are successful in bombing the Ukrainians. It is believed that some 600 to 1,000 troops were inside the steel plant, so there are definitely more Ukrainian marines still in the combat zone.

Wounded Ukrainian troops being evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant after 82 days of fighting (Euromaidan Press). Source:
A bus filled with wounded Ukrainian troops being evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant after 82 days of fighting (Euromaidan Press/Twitter)

SOFREP had previously reported that the Azov Regiment, one of the units defending the steel plant, vowed that they would never surrender and never give up as long as they were alive. The Azov is a volunteer militia rather than a regular army unit and there is some question over how much control the government has over this unit.

“We will always fight, as long as we are alive, for justice,” Azov Deputy Commander Captain Sviatoslav “Kalina” Palamar said. “We don’t have much time; we are coming under intense shelling.”

“Surrender is not an option because Russia is not interested in our lives,” Azov Regiment intelligence officer Ilya Samoilenko said.

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly expressed his admiration and concern for their fighters defending Ukrainian-held territory in Mariupol, he also expressed that he wanted these “Ukrainian heroes” alive and bring them home to their families.