Ukrainethe Ministry of Defense has confirmed that an operation to evacuate fighters from the besieged Azovstal steelworks is underway.
About 53 troops are being taken to hospital in the Russian-controlled city of Novoazovsk, according to Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Hanna Malyar.
Another 264 wounded Ukrainian fighters were taken to Olenivka, Donetsk, by humanitarian corridors, she said.
The politician said the newly liberated troops were exchanged for captured Russian soldiers.
“We are working to save people who are still in Azovstal,” she said, without saying how many people remained.
The expanded plant in Mariupol has been the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in the occupied port city for more than two months.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly sounded the alarm for the fate of hundreds of soldiers in the plant, many of whom are thought to have been injured because they were dealing with difficult circumstances and ruthless shelling.
News of the rescue operation comes after Ukraine accused Russia of hitting the plant with white phosphorus bombs.
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the situation in his nightly speech to the nation.
He said the 82nd day of Russia’s bloody war had been a ‘difficult’ day.
He added: ‘Thanks to the actions of the Ukrainian army – the Armed Forces of Ukraine, intelligence, such as the negotiating team, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN, we hope we can save the lives of our boys.
“I want to emphasize that Ukraine’s Ukrainian heroes need life. This is our principle. I think every adequate person understands these words. ‘
Zelensky said the work ‘to bring the boys home’ continues in Mariupol, while other fighting continues in the east of the country.
Ukraine’s troops “repel constant attacks in those areas where Russia is still trying to advance,” he said, pointing to the city of Severodonetsk as one of Russia’s main targets.
At one point it was thought that there were a few thousand Ukrainian troops working in the steels, along with a few hundred civilians.
Five buses were spotted Monday night from the factory with soldiers inside.
The Azov regiment said its troops in Mariupol had endured 82 days, buying time for the rest of Ukraine to fight Russian troops and secure Western weapons.
For much of that time, the captured soldiers and civilians faced a serious shortage of food, water, electricity and medicine.
Ukraine says tens of thousands of people have been killed in Mariupol, many of them lying in ruins after random Russian bombings.
In a post on Facebook, the army’s general staff said that the fighters who had been evacuated from Azovstal were ‘heroes of our time’.
Army chiefs said the deployment of the besieged troops had forced Russia to keep some 20,000 of its own troops hidden in the city and hindered ‘the implementation of the plan for the rapid capture of Zaporizhzhia’.
“Forging the enemy’s nuclear forces around Mariupol has given us the opportunity to create and create the defensive boundaries on which our troops are still present today and to provide a decent counterpoint to the aggressor,” the post said.
“We got the critically needed time to build reserves, regroup forces and get help from partners,” the military chief said.
The post added that some fighters remain trapped in the plant and said that measures to rescue ‘defenders who remain on the territory of Azovstal are ongoing.
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Ukrainian fighters who spent two months in Azovstal steel factory were finally liberated
Source link Ukrainian fighters who spent two months in Azovstal steel factory were finally liberated