Russia-Ukraine Conflict

‘Facing our last days’: Commander Mariupol pleads for help as Russian forces close in

Commander of Last remaining Ukrainian troops keep the besieged city of Mariupol has said that his force is outnumbered and may have only a few hours left to live.

Major General Serhiy Volyna said about 500 soldiers were wounded and many civilians with them at the Azovstal steel plant, which has become the last stand for the Ukrainians in the port city against the Russian advance.

His 36th Marines Brigade is holed up in the factory with fighters from the country’s Azov Regiment, a far-right volunteer force seen by many as one of the most capable. most powerful in the country.

In a video Speaking to NBC News and other media also posted on his own Facebook page on Wednesday, Volyna outlined the desperate situation facing the militants and asked foreign leaders for help. help to bring them to safety.

“We are probably facing our last days, if not hours,” he said.

Major Serhiy Volyna, commander of Ukraine's 36th Marine Brigade, made the call from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
Major Serhiy Volyna, commander of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, made the call from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Major Serhiy Volyna / Facebook

Volyna also tagged President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the post.

“We appeal and beg all world leaders to help us. We asked them to use the mining procedure and take us to the territory of a third party country,” he said.

Mariupol, one strategically important city in southeastern Ukraine bordering the Sea of ​​Azov and about 35 miles from the Russian border, has been focus of Russian attacks since mid-March. Capturing it would represent a significant boost to Russian President Putin as he mounts his offensive in the Donbas region.

Ukrainian officials say tens of thousands of people have died in the city, which has been without food, heat and medicine for weeks, while some have been able to take refuge.

Recently, Russia requested The Ukrainian army eventually surrendered – a call that Volyna rejected. Russia has released a surrender deadline Wednesday, at 2 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET).

Speaking in front of a white brick wall and wearing what appeared to be a camouflage jacket, Volyna spoke for about a minute, emphasizing that Russian forces were closing in with superior military might while shelling houses. machine from the air.

“This could be our last calling in life,” he said.

There was no sign of any military effort to evacuate troops in Mariupol, but Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday that the country was working to open a humanitarian corridor and aim to bring buses to evacuate 6,000 civilians. That would be the most significant effort in weeks.

“Given the dire humanitarian situation in Mariupol, in this direction we will focus our efforts on today,” she said in a post on the messaging app Telegram.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly accused Russia of obstructing aid deliveries and violating the ceasefire during the evacuation from Mariupol.

In an additional video sent to media outlets, Volyna said his troops were in “high morale” but conditions at the steel mill – one of the largest in Europe – were poor, especially especially for the injured.

“We are in terrible conditions right now, in a basement the men are just rotting there,” he said.

Volyna added that ordinary people who come to the factory to seek safety are now in danger.

“There were women and children among them. Some of them ask for help. They’ve all been trapped here,” he said. “They are also under constant shelling. Thank you.”

Maria Ulianovska and Matt Bradley contribute.

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