Ukraine war: Mariupol commander makes ‘last’ plea for help

A Ukrainian marine commander in Mariupol has made what he described as his troops’ “last address to the world” as they try to resist overwhelming Russian forces in the city.

They were outnumbered and running out of supplies, Major Serhiy Volyna said.

A Russian deadline for the surrender of Ukrainian forces has passed with no sign that the troops have complied.

The last holdouts are sheltering in the city’s huge Azovstal steel plant, reportedly with 1,000 civilians.

Kyiv said there was a tentative deal to rescue some civilians from the city.

The city’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, told national TV that Ukraine had hoped to send 90 buses to evacuate about 6,000 people on Wednesday. He said around 100,000 people are trapped in Mariupol.

However, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko subsequently said that fewer buses than planned were able to reach trapped civilians and not many were evacuated.

“People of course gathered at the agreed meeting points, but few of them got onto the buses,” he told Reuters news agency without giving specific figures.

The Azovstal Iron and Steel Works – a massive, four sq-mile (10 sq km) plant in the south-east of the city – has become the last centre of the Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol.

It is unclear how many Ukrainian troops remain in the city, but in a video message sent to the BBC, Maj Volyna, said around 500 injured troops were being cared for at the steel plant.

Maj Volyna, who leads the 36th marine battalion, said his troops were running low on supplies and that the video marked “our last address to the world. It may be our last one ever”.

He said that Russian forces outnumbered his own by “dozens of times,” and that while Ukrainian morale remains high, Moscow’s forces “prevail in the air, in artillery, in ground troops, and in machines and tanks”.

 

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