Efforts to rescue the last guards inside the Azovstal steel plant in the dilapidated port city of Mariupol are underway on Tuesday after Ukrainian officials said the militants had “finished their mission” and that there was no way the military could liberate the plant.
The Ukrainian military describes an attempt to get out of a steel plant to save as many lives as possible, avoiding the use of the word “surrender.” Authorities continued to try to rescue an unknown number of militants who were staying behind. It is unclear whether soldiers deported to Russian-controlled areas will be treated as prisoners of war.
Regiment firmly defending a steel plant as belonging to UkraineThe port city of Mariupol announced on Monday that its mission was complete, with more than 260 militants evacuated, including some seriously wounded.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said the evacuation was part of an effort to save the lives of militants who had endured weeks of Russian attacks under the illusion of underground passages below the Azovstel steelworks. He said medical help was being provided to those who were seriously injured.
“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to stay alive. This is our policy,” he said. An unknown number of fighters are waiting for other rescue efforts.
Defenders of a steel plant withdrew as Moscow suffered another diplomatic setback in the war with Ukraine.In deciding to get NATO membership. Ukraine gained a symbolic advantage when it was reported that its forces had pushed Russian troops into the Russian border in the Kharkiv region.
Nonetheless, Russian forces attacked targets known as the Donbass, the industrial center of eastern Ukraine, and the death toll of several thousand continued to rise during the war as it entered its 12th week on Wednesday.
Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Maliar said 53 wounded militants had been taken from the Azovstal plant to a hospital in Novosibirsk, east of Mariupol. A further 211 militants were evacuated to Olenivka via humanitarian corridor.
He said an exchange would be made for them to return home. Authorities also planned to continue efforts to rescue the militants who were staying inside.
“The work of bringing the comrades home continues, and it needs tasting and time,” Zhelensky said.
Before the evacuation from Steelworks began on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced a deal for wounded to leave the plant for treatment in a city run by pro-Moscow separatists.
After Monday night, several buses with Russian military vehicles pulled away from the steel plant. Malier later confirmed that the eviction had taken place.
“Thanks to Mariupol’s defenders, Ukraine has had a crucial time to build reserves, reorganize forces and seek assistance from allies,” he said. “They did all their work, but Azovstal could not be stopped by the army.”
The commander of the Azov Brigade, which headed the defense of the plant, said in a pre-recorded video message released on Monday that the evacuation marked the end of the battalion’s mission.
“Absolutely safe plans and operations were not in place during the war,” Lt. Col. Denis Prokopenko said, adding that all risks were considered and included “saving as many staff lives as possible” as part of the plan.
Elsewhere in Donbass, the eastern city of Sverdlovsk was hit by a heavy shelling that killed at least 10 people, said Sergei Haidoi, governor of the Luhansk region. In the Donetsk region, nine civilians were killed in a shelling attack, Governor Pavlo Girilenko said on Facebook.
A deadly explosion rocked the city of Lviv in western Ukraine early Tuesday. Witnesses counted with at least eight explosions and distant booms, and after a while the smell of burning was visible. An Associated Press team in Lviv was under curfew overnight, glowing with an orange glow in the sky west of the city.
But as Russian forces withdrew from the perimeter, so did Ukrainian forcesKharkiv in recent days. Zelenskyy thanked the soldiers who allegedly pushed themselves to the Russian border in the Kharkiv region.
The video showed Ukrainian soldiers carrying a post similar to the border marker with Ukrainian blue and yellow stripes. Then they put it on the ground, while a dozen soldiers posed next to it, one with a belt of bullets on his shoulder.
“On behalf of all Ukrainians, on my behalf and on behalf of my family, I am very grateful to you,” Zelenskyy said in a video message. “I’m very grateful to all the fighters like you.”
The Ukrainian border service said the video showing the troops came from the border in the “Kharkiv region” but did not elaborate, citing security reasons. Unable to verify exact location immediately.
Ukrainian border guards also said they had stopped a Russian attempt to send sabotage and intelligence to the Sumi area, 90 miles northwest of Kharkiv.
Russia has suffered setbacks in the war, most obviously, initially failing to capture the capital Kiev. Much of the fighting has shifted to Donbass, but has become a slump as both sides fight from village to village.
A senior U.S. defense official said howitzers from the United States and other countries were helping to stop or stabilize Kiev against Russia. Speaking anonymously to discuss the US military assessment, the official said that Ukraine had pushed Russian forces within half a mile to 2.5 miles of the Russian border, but could not confirm whether it was up to the border.
The official said Russian long-range attacks also targeted the Ukrainian military training center in Yavor, near the Polish border. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Sweden’s decision to withdraw from the battlefield and seek NATO membership, following a similar decision from neighboring Finland, marked a historic turning point for the non-aligned districts for generations.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson has said her country is “vulnerable” during the application period and urged fellow citizens..
“Russia has said that counter-action will be taken if we join NATO,” he said. “For example, we cannot deny that Sweden will be exposed to misinformation and attempts to intimidate us.”
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a NATO member, expressed his opposition to their joining. He accused Kurdish militants and other groups in Ankara of failing to take a “clear” position and imposing military sanctions on Turkey.
He said Swedish and Finnish officials expected in Turkey next week should not bother to come if they want to try to persuade Turkey to drop its objection.
“How can you trust them?” Erdogan asked at a joint news conference with the Algerian president.
All 30 current NATO members should be allowed to join the Nordic neighbors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow has “no problem” with Sweden or Finland applying for NATO membership, but that “expanding military infrastructure in the region will certainly lead to our reaction.”
Putin launched the invasion on February 24, in which he said he was trying to verify NATO’s expansion, but that strategy had backfired. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the membership process for the two could be faster.
Europe is also cutting billions of dollars in Russian energy imports in a bid to cut off funding for the Kremlin war. The proposed EU embargo faces opposition from some countries that depend on Russian imports, including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Reservations are also available in Bulgaria.
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