Surrender is not an option the Ukrainian Forces defending the Azovstal Iron and Steelworks Plan in Mariupol are considering.
SOFREP had reported that the Russian forces had stormed the Azovstal Steel Plant after civilians were evacuated from the complex after months of heavy bombing. Some 150 women and children who successfully hid in bunkers were transported out to Zaporizhzhia. Immediately after this, Russian bombs resumed, pummelling the plant in an effort to get the Ukrainian Forces out of the tunnels that comprise the plant.
Undeterred by the Russian advance to fully control the southern port city of Mariupol, the Azov Batallion, one of the units defending the plant, has pledged not to give up and never surrender.
“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.”
Azov Regiment intelligence officer Ilya Samoilenko also pledged on behalf of the regiment that they would not surrender to the Russian occupiers and that they, themselves, had witnessed the war crimes committed by the Russian forces. “We, all of the military personnel in the garrison of Mariupol, we have witnessed the war crimes performed by Russia, by the Russian army. We are witnesses.”
Samoilenko is also known to be one of the handicapped fighters of the Azov. He lost his left arm and right eye during the war in 2015. He still fights using his titanium mechanical prosthesis.
“Surrender is not an option because Russia is not interested in our lives,” he added. He also revealed that the Azov regiment had 200 wounded soldiers within the complex and that they would never abandon one of their own.
“We can’t abandon our injured, our dead – these people deserve fitting treatment, they deserve a burial worthy of the name. We won’t leave anyone behind us.”
He added that the Azov Regiment had felt like they were abandoned due to the dire situation. It’s obvious they are being resupplied after nearly 80 days of fighting and it appears as if Ukraine’s offensive operations are in part directed at breaking through to them.
“The government failed in the preparation of the defense of Mariupol…we feel abandoned,” he expressed.
“We respectfully understand that politicians have their ratings, their careers, their additional security concerns. The truth is, we are unique because nobody expected we would last so long, and we are still holding.”
In response, Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak tweeted that the Ukrainian troops defending Azovstal were a “living symbol of Ukraine” and that all lives of Ukrainian soldiers were “sacred” to the Ukrainian state.
“Each conversation of the President with world leaders begins with the ‘Azovstal.’ We consider all formats, and if the history of international law doesn’t know them – offer new ones. We managed to save women and children, but we won’t stop until we evacuate all our people,” he promised to the regiment.
He also revealed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were prioritizing unblocking Mariupol and that it would unblock if they saw an opening. However, these plans were not made public as one would expect. Despite this, the Ukrainian government inadvertently exposed their plans to retake Mariupol if they would unblock the steel plant possibly. This entails that they would have to fight through established Russian positions in the city.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also called for the release or exchange of those Ukrainian troops still defending Azovstal. In previous reports, Zelensky even went on to say that the peace talks would be halted if the Russians decided to forcefully siege and kill Ukrainians within the complex.
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“I want to say that the elimination of our army, our guys, will put an end to all negotiations,” Zelensky said in a video message published last April. “That will be an impasse as we don’t negotiate neither our territories nor our people.”
Recently during an interview with UK-based think tank Chatham House, Zelensky again stated that no diplomatic talks would be possible if Russia does kill these men in Azovstal, saying that:
“If they kill people who can be exchanged as prisoners of war or just released as civilians or be helped as wounded or injured, civilian and military alike, if they destroy them, I don’t think we can have any diplomatic talks with them after that.”
Despite this news coming within Azovstal, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk reported last Saturday that all women, children, and the elderly had been successfully evacuated from the underground bunkers. Zelensky reported that 300 civilians were rescued and that they would continue to work toward evacuating the fighters as well.
“We took all civilians out of the Azovstal plant and are now preparing for the second stage of the evacuation mission to evacuate those who are wounded and medics,” Zelensky said. “Of course, we are working on evacuating our military, all the heroes who are defending Mariupol.”
Despite this account, multiple reports also say that civilians are still within the complex. We will be updating you regarding the situation in Azovstal as soon as new information comes in.
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