All Civilians Have Exited Azovstal Plant As Holdout Fighters Say Final Days Are 'Hellish Reality Show'

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, May 08, 2022 - 03:05 PM

At this point both the Russian and Ukrainian sides have announced that all civilians which had long been trapped inside the besieged Azovstal steelworks plant have been safely evacuated, in efforts that began with 200 being allowed exit a week ago and ended with some 300 more rescued on Saturday.

The efforts have been overseen, even as sporadic fighting has raged - also with an estimated hundreds of Ukrainian Azov fighters still holed up at the large sprawling complex - by United Nations and Red Cross teams. "All women, children and elderly people have been evacuated from Azovstal. This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced Saturday. 

Via Reuters: Moscow-backed separatist troops fire from a tank near Azovstal steel plant last week.

President Zelensky later expressed hope that the trapped and surrounded Ukrainian fighters would also be allowed to leave - but this looks extremely unlikely short of surrender - given the Russian military has demanded nothing less than laying down their arms and emerging from their hideouts since overtaking the port city of Mariupol, also with international attempts at reaching a ceasefire at a dead end.

He vowed to see it through, despite what's increasingly looking like an impossible prospect. “We took all civilians out of the Azovstal plant and are now preparing for the second stage of the evacuation mission to evacuate those who are wounded and medics,” Zelensky said. “Of course, we are working on evacuating our military, all the heroes who are defending Mariupol.”

A trapped Ukrainian fighter has additionally been cited in international media describing what he called a "hellish reality show" given relentless Russian bombardment of Azovstal has continues. He's calling for urgent outside help:

“It feels like I’ve landed in a hellish reality show in which us soldiers fight for our lives and the whole world watches this interesting episode,” Serhiy Volinski, commander of the 36th marine infantry brigade said.

“Pain, suffering, hunger, misery, tears, fears, death. It’s all real,” he added, posting a picture of himself in which he is unshaven, bleary-eyed and seems to have an injured nose. He added that his troops could only hope for a miracle now.

Footage of the final civilians being transported out of the now largely destroyed southeast port city of Mariupol...

On Sunday Reuters has talked to an additional Azov spokesman who says it will fight to the end amid Russian calls to lay down arms and surrender immediately.

“We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar was cited as saying. “We don’t have much time, we are coming under intense shelling.”

He urged the 'international community' to organize an evacuation effort that now focuses on the remaining trapped militants. “We can die at any moment… Our message is don’t waste our efforts,” he added.

Meanwhile, Russian forces have alleged that along with the neo-Nazi Azov group, foreign mercenaries from the West are also trapped, an allegation which has persisted through the many weeks of the complex being besieged. The Kremlin has said that "Western officers" are among the Azov ranks as Russian forces continue closing in.