The city of Mariupol is almost half surrounded by sea. The Armed Forces of Ukraine lost supply contact with the defenders of Azovstal not only by water, but also by land due to russia’s occupation. Thus, there was only one option left to try - the sky mission. The Chief Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine was responsible for the supply of reinforcements and supplies to Mariupol and Mi-8 along with the Afghan Mi-17 army helicopters were used for flights.
According to the head of the Chief Intelligence Directorate, Kyrylo Budanov, 16 military Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters flew to the defenders with different kinds of aid, and once they brought 72 fighters of the Azov regiment to the plant for reinforcement. Overall, there were 7 helicopters missions.
Read more: How Ukraine’s Helicopters Flew to Occupied Mariupol Azovstal (Video Plus Additional Information Provided)
At night, flying at extremely low altitudes they made it to Mariupol along the route where it was possible to bypass russia’s air defense. Medicine, ammunition, food and water were brought there, and the seriously wounded were loaded back.
Pravda journalists discovered that several helicopters were lost during such missions.
"During the fifth mission the group was spotted for the first time when they were returning from Mariupol, and one helicopter was downed. On the seventh mission, also on the way back, one helicopter caught fire and crashed in the occupied territory. To save the survived the rescue helicopter was sent to the crash site. Unfortunately, it was shot down with MANPADS due to enemy ambush. So now they are lying there together, like in the movies – next to each other.
The last, seventh flight carrying support on board took place in April-May, 20 days before the final withdrawal of Azovstal defenders.
Read more: Ukraine’s Military Tried to Deblock the Azovstal Plant: Operation Details And Why it Failed