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The President of Ukraine revealed the loss when resupplying the Azovstal fortress

President Zelensky said that Ukraine lost many pilots when conducting a covert resupply operation for forces entrenched in the Azovstal factory in Mariupol.

“Unfortunately, many of our helicopter pilots have lost their lives. They are heroes who managed to deliver medicine, food, water and pick up wounded soldiers from the Azovstal factory, knowing full well that it was near-impossible mission”, President Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with the country’s television channel on May 20.

Mi-8 Ukraine helicopters rehearsing in 2021. Photo: Jetphotos.

Mi-8 Ukraine helicopters rehearsing in 2021. Photo: Jetphotos.

This is the first time Zelensky has admitted that the country has carried out a covert operation to resupply forces entrenched in the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine. The factory is likened to a “fortress” that fell after 82 days of holding out in the siege of Russian forces.

Before that, the Russian Ministry of Defense has repeatedly stated shoot down helicopters tried to evacuate forces from the Azovstal plant. Ukraine usually does not confirm this information.

The President of Ukraine also confirmed that Western partners were involved in the negotiation process for the removal of civilians and soldiers from the Azovstal factory. “Civilians, military medics and wounded soldiers were evacuated as a result of this effort,” Zelensky said, adding that negotiations with Russia were complicated.

“The parties agree that the opening of the exit in Mariupol will be carried out by intermediaries, which are Western partners,” he said. After this process, the Ukrainian soldiers entrenched in the Azovstal factory received a signal that they were allowed to go out to save their lives.

The Russian Defense Ministry today announced that all Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal plant, including a total of 2,439 people, have surrender Russian forces. Russian soldiers took control of the underground tunnel system at the Azovstal factory, ending the nearly three-month siege.

Russia says all Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal factory have surrendered

Ukrainian soldiers at the Azovstal factory surrender to Russian forces on May 20. Video: Russian Defense Forces.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu also reported to the President Vladimir Putin that the operation was completed and that the entire city of Mariupol was “completely liberated”.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister hopes the surrendered soldiers will be exchanged with Russian prisoners, while Russian investigators say they plan to question and possibly prosecute members of Azov Battalion for “crimes”. the atrocities they have inflicted on civilians in southeastern Ukraine.”

Speaker of the State Duma of Russia (Russia’s lower house of parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin on May 17 announced that he was considering the possibility of imposing a ban on the exchange of prisoners of the Azovstal steel factory, because he considered this force the embodiment of anti-extremism. Russia.

Ngoc Anh (According to DW)

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