NOTAfter weeks of blockade, about 260 Ukrainian soldiers left the Azov steelworks in Mariupol. Among them, 53 seriously injured, as announced Tuesday evening the Ukrainian staff. Almost simultaneously with the evacuation, there was another Russian airstrike on the city of Lviv in western Ukraine.
Another 211 Ukrainian soldiers from the Azowstal steelworks were also taken to a town occupied by Russian troops. They were later to be released in a prisoner exchange, he added. Work is still ongoing on removing other fighters from the factory. Several hundred soldiers are said to be on the site. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maljar stressed that Azowstal’s release was not possible. A planned exchange of prisoners has not yet been officially confirmed by the Russian side. The Russian Defense Ministry had previously only spoken of a ceasefire for the evacuation.
Zelenskyj: “Ukraine needs its living heroes”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his video speech that Ukraine needs its living heroes. The International Red Cross and the United Nations also assisted in the evacuation of soldiers.
The port city of Mariupol was surrounded soon after the Russian invasion in February. The strategically important city was exposed to heavy shelling and rocket attacks. Ukrainian experts and authorities assume thousands of civilian deaths. Russian troops gradually took control after the siege. The city’s last Ukrainian defenders, however, were holed up in the huge, multi-storey steelworks underground.
Russian troops did not risk an attempted storming, but sealed off all entrances. “Block this industrial zone so that no flies come out of it,” Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin ordered his army on camera. The area was bombarded several times. Hundreds of civilians who also fled to the steelworks due to advancing Russian troops had already been evacuated from the factory premises in recent days.
The withdrawal of the soldiers, who hardly had food and water, was negotiated at length. In Ukraine, the Kyiv government has also been accused of abandoning Mariupol’s last defenders.
New rocket attack near Lviv
The area around the city of Lviv in western Ukraine was again targeted by an airstrike. The attack targeted a military installation in the Yavoriv district on the border with Poland, local military leader Maxim Kositsky wrote on Telegram. Mayor Andriy Sadowy stressed that there was no information about rocket fire in the city and thanked the air defense. In mid-March, a Russian airstrike hit the military training area of Javoriv, killing 35 people according to Ukrainian sources. In Yavoriv, Ukrainian soldiers had been training with Western instructors in recent years.