Ukraine war: More than 200 Ukrainian soldiers are being evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant after weeks of resistance

More than 200 Ukrainian soldiers are being evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol after weeks of resistance against the Russian invasion.

Some 53 soldiers are being taken to hospital in the Russian-controlled city of Novoazovsk, about 30 miles to the east, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar.

Another 211 people are being brought to Olenivka, some 55 miles to the north, through humanitarian corridors, he said, adding that they would be exchanged with Russian military prisoners before returning home.

For weeks, the soldiers were the last remaining pocket of resistance against the Russian advance in Mariupol, a strategically important city on the northern shore of the Sea of ​​Azov.

Ms. Malyar said: “Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol, Ukraine gained critically important time and they fulfilled all their tasks. But it is impossible to unblock Azovstal by military means.”

“We are working to save the people who are still in Azovstal,” he added, without saying how many people were left.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday night: “Thanks to the actions of the Ukrainian Army, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the intelligence, as well as the negotiating team, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN, we hope that we may be able to save the lives of our boys.

“There are serious injuries among them, they are receiving care.

“I want to emphasize that Ukraine needs living Ukrainian heroes. This is our principle. I believe that every proper person will understand these words.”

A bus carrying wounded Ukrainian forces from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol is driven to Novoazovsk.

Other key developments:
• Turkey’s president said he opposes Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, he appears to step back from earlier objections, saying: “Russia has no problems with these states, none. And, in this sense, there is no immediate threat to Russia of an expansion to include these countries.”
• The Russian Foreign Ministry said attempts by the West and G7 nations to isolate Moscow have worsened global food shortages.
• McDonald’s will sell its 850 restaurants in Russia due to the war. The burger giant said it wants a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers and keep paying them until the deal closes.
• Russia bombed the eastern city of Sievierdonetsk, killing at least 10 people, according to the governor of the Lugansk region. The Donbas region remains a target of attacks
• Ukraine’s president thanked a group of soldiers who reportedly pushed all the way to the Russian border in the Kharkiv region.

ukraine map
Day 82 of the war in Ukraine

Earlier on Monday, Russia had announced a deal for wounded Ukrainian soldiers to leave the steel plant for treatment in a city held by pro-Moscow separatists.

On Monday night, five buses were seen leaving the steel plant with soldiers inside.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Facebook: “The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed in Azovstal to save the lives of personnel.

“Efforts to rescue the remaining defenders in the Azovstal territory continue.”

Read more:
Azovstal coups: pictures worth a thousand words

At one point there were thought to be a few thousand Ukrainian soldiers at the steel mill, along with a few hundred civilians, as Russian soldiers closed in.

The Azov Regiment said its troops in Mariupol, a strategically important city in southern Ukraine, had held out for 82 days, buying time for the rest of Ukraine to fight Russian forces and secure Western weapons.

For much of that time, Mariupol’s soldiers, along with other civilians, faced severe shortages of food, water, electricity, ammunition, and medicine.

Ukraine says tens of thousands of people have been killed in Mariupol, with much of the city in ruins.

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