Ukrainian fighters at Mariupol factory vow to fight to the end | War news between Russia and Ukraine

The pledge comes as the highest-ranking Russian government official to ever set foot in Mariupol welcomes the “restoration of peace” in “liberated” cities.

Ukrainian fighters at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southeastern city of Mariupol have vowed to fight to the end as they retain the last hold on Russian forces in the strategic port city.

“We will continue to fight as long as we live to fend off the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov regiment, told an online conference.

“We don’t have much time; we are under heavy fire,” he said, pleading with the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers from the Mariupol factory.

Ilya Samoilenko, an intelligence officer of the Azov regiment, said: “We, all the soldiers in the garrison of Mariupol, we have witnessed the war crimes committed by Russia, by the Russian army. We are witnesses. Surrender is not an option because Russia is not interested in our lives.”

Samoilenko added that stocks are limited. “We still have water. We still have ammunition. We will have our personal weapons. We will fight until the best solution to the situation is found,” he said.

Ukraine has said that all women, children and elderly civilians will be allowed to flee Azovstal as part of a humanitarian mission coordinated by the United Nations and the Red Cross.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday that his government was preparing for the second phase of the evacuation mission, focusing on the injured and medics.

Diplomatic efforts were also made to evacuate the remaining soldiers, albeit “extremely difficult,” Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian army said Russia is continuing intensive shelling of the factory. Moscow claimed it captured the city on the Sea of ​​Azov on April 21 after nearly two months of siege, despite Ukrainian fighters still entrenched in the sprawling Soviet-era steel factory.

Areas ‘liberated’ by Russian troops

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited Mariupol on Sunday and became the country’s top government official to set foot in the port city after weeks of Russian bombing.

Khusnullin, who is responsible for construction and urban development in the Russian government, said on Telegram that he has visited Mariupol and the eastern Ukrainian city of Volnovakha, among other areas “liberated” by Russian forces.

“The restoration of a peaceful life begins in the regions. There is a lot of work to do. In particular, we will help…provide humanitarian aid,” he wrote in a Telegram message.

Khusnullin visited the commercial port of Mariupol, which, according to the Russian Defense Ministry TV channel Zvezda, should be used to deliver building materials to restore the city.

The port, which lies between the Crimean peninsula captured by Moscow in 2014 and parts of eastern Ukraine captured by Russian-backed separatists that same year, is key to connecting the two Russian-occupied territories and blocking of Ukrainian exports.

The port will ship the first cargo from the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in May, head Denis Pushilin, who accompanied Khusnullin, said on Telegram.

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