Mariupol garrison has fulfilled its combat mission – General Staff

A Ukrainian serviceman at the Azovstal iron and steel works plant / Photo credit: Dmytro Kozatskyi, an Azov Regiment fighter, on Instagram
A Ukrainian serviceman at the Azovstal iron and steel works plant / Photo credit: Dmytro Kozatskyi, an Azov Regiment fighter, on Instagram

The Heroes of Mariupol have accomplished their task and now are ordered to save their lives. They are currently being taken to the hospitals in temporarily occupied territories for further exchange for russian captives

The following announcement was published on the official page of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Supreme Military Command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at the Azovstal steel plant to save the lives of the personnel. There is a rescue operation is currently underway to take the defenders of Mariupol out of blockade.

The evacuation of 53 severely wounded servicemen has begun. They were taken to a medical facility in Novoazovsk, (currently occupied by russian forces and illegal military formations – Defense Express). Another 211 defenders were evacuated through a humanitarian corridor to Olenivka, a small town between Mariupol and Donetsk, and then they would return to Ukrainian-controlled territory through an exchange procedure.

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"Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time. They are forever in history. These are the "Azov" Special Operations Detachment, the 12th Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine, the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, border guards, police, volunteers, the Territorial Defense of Mariupol".

Defense Express / Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time – General Staff /
Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time – General Staff / Photo credit: Azov Regiment

Holding their positions on Azovstal, the defending forces did not allow the enemy to transfer up to 17 battalion tactical groups (about 20,000 personnel) to other operational directions, noted the General Staff. This thwarted russians' plan for the rapid capture of Zaporizhia city, denied them reaching the administrative border of the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions and surrounding the Ukrainian units of the Joint Forces in Donbas.

Smoke rising from Azovstal, Mariupol
Azovstal / Photo credit: Azov Regiment

"Binding the main forces of the enemy around Mariupol gave us the opportunity to prepare and create defensive lines, where our troops are today giving a decent rebuff to the aggressor. We received critical time to form reserves, regroup forces, and receive assistance from partners," said the statement. "The most important joint task of all Ukraine and the whole world is to save the lives of the defenders of Mariupol."

Defense Express / The evacuation of wounded Ukrainian servicemen from Azovstal, Mariupol on May 17 night, 2022 /
The evacuation of wounded Ukrainian servicemen from Azovstal, Mariupol on May 17 night, 2022 / Photo credit: Aleksander Yermochenko, Reuters

The currently ongoing evacuation from Azovstal is held by a multitude of defense institutions of Ukraine, including intelligence and the Armed Forces themselves. In addition to those, the negotiating team of the Ukraine-russia peace talks and international organizations are involved: the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations. The details of the operation were shared by President Volodymyr Zelensky in his daily address to the people of Ukraine.

"I want to emphasize: Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle. I think that every adequate person will understand these words." the President stressed. "The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was started by our military and intelligence officers. To bring the boys home, the work continues, and this work needs delicacy. And time."

"Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle" – President Zelensky

Relevant statements were also made by Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar and the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine. As for the remaining Ukrainian forces at Azovstal, they will be evacuated the same way soon, Hanna Maliar informed.

"Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to unblock Azovstal by military means," she said in a video address. "The defenders of Mariupol fulfilled all the tasks set by the command in full."

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