Surrounded by Azovstal
Senior cleric appeals to Putin
Their situation is desperate: dozens of civilians and hundreds of fighters are held in the Mariupol steelworks, many of them seriously injured. Now Ukrainian cleric Onufriy is turning to Kremlin boss Putin – and reminding him of Christian values.
In a new appeal, top Ukrainian clergyman Onufriy asked Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin to rescue people from steel mills in the port city of Mariupol. Putin should behave like a Christian and let the surrounded civilians, fighters and security forces flee to areas controlled by Ukraine or to third countries. A mediating country chosen by the Kremlin could lead the mission, the head of the largest Ukrainian Orthodox church in the Moscow Patriarchate has said.
The cleric asked Putin, himself a member of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, to remember his parents who once fought for their lives in the German city of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg . “Residents of Mariupol and their defenders are in the same situation today,” Onufriy said, according to media reports.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, around 100 civilians are still staying at the steel plant and many people were able to leave the plant for the last time. In addition, according to Russian information, more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters and foreign mercenaries are entrenched there. The fighters had so far rejected Putin’s demands to surrender and lay down their arms. The Russian president had assured them that they would not storm the industrial zone in this case.
Hundreds of injured still in the steelworks
“Hundreds are injured,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. Some of the soldiers were “seriously injured” and had to be “urgently” taken out of the steelworks, Wereshchuk said. “The situation is getting worse day by day.
However, fighters repeatedly report massive bombings of steelworks. According to Ukrainian media, the former commander of the Azov regiment, Maxim Zhorin, said diplomatic efforts to rescue the fighters were underway. At the same time, he said a process was underway to liberate Mariupol from Russian blockade through a military operation. But it takes a long time. And the fighters there might not have that time anymore.
The Azov steel plant is the last stronghold of the Ukrainian army in devastated Mariupol. Hundreds of civilians also holed up in the sprawling industrial complex with many underground facilities for several weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After a series of evacuations, Vereshchuk announced over the weekend that “all women, children and elderly civilians” had been evacuated from the compound.
Taking the southern Ukrainian port city that once had a population of over 400,000 would be a strategically important victory for the Russian military, as it would allow Russia to establish a direct land connection with the annexed Black Sea peninsula. Crimean.