The Ukrainian fighters defending the beleaguered Azovstal factory in Mariupol vow to fight to the end. “We will continue to fight against the Russian occupiers as long as we live,” Captain Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment, said in an online press conference.
“We don’t have a lot of time, we are being heavily shelled,” he said. He called on the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers from the steel mill. The wounded are treated there, but there are no people or resources to continue to provide them with proper care afterwards. It is unclear how many soldiers are still in the complex.
Yesterday it was announced that all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from the complex. But Lieutenant Illia Samoilenko, who spoke after Palamar, said he hopes everyone has actually been reached. “A lot of bunkers have been bombed and we dig people out with our bare hands. We don’t have heavy resources to deploy.”
Surrender gift for Russians
He is concerned about the condition of the sick and injured soldiers and civilians who are still in the complex. “If you have pneumonia from the bad conditions, you have to be evacuated. There are several hundred injured, but we don’t know how long we can keep them alive. We also don’t have equipment to keep people in danger alive.”
Surrender is not an option for him either. “That would be too great a gift for the enemy. We are fighting against an aggressor, an enemy who is pouring terror on Ukraine, against their barbaric methods.”
“My main concern is the safety of my unit and the combat strength of my unit,” Samoilenko said.
He pointed out that outside help is needed. “We show the world that we are not afraid of the Russians. Other countries can show that too, they do not necessarily have to take up arms.”
Battle in the city
It is a small group of about a hundred Russians who are bombing and attacking Azovstal, he says. But there are also different battlegrounds in the city. “We’re ready to stop them there.” He didn’t say how he wants to do that. “That’s strategic information.”
He did say that the defenders are getting help from local residents, most of whom he says are pro-Ukrainian. “But the Russian army has also killed people who may have been on their side. That is the reality of the war.”