Ukraine commander orders international evacuation effort at Mariupol plant because situation is “critical”

Major General Serhii Volyna, commander of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, spoke by phone to CNN from the besieged city of Mariupol on Tuesday night and asked a third country to evacuate its troops and civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant under intense Russian bombardment.

“I have a statement to the world,” Volyna said. “That could be my last statement, because we are only days, or even hours away. We call on world leaders to adopt the Mariupol’s military expulsion procedure, to the civilians who are with us at we ask that you take us to the territory of a third country and provide us with safety.”

Ukrainian forces inside the besieged city have fortified around the massive Azovstal steel plant.

Ukrainian officials say hundreds of civilians are sheltering in the basements of giant steel mills. A Mariupol police official told CNN food and water supplies were running low amid intense shelling.

When asked how an evacuation could be facilitated, Volyna said, “This should be at the level of agreements. If we talk about practical applications, it could be a A ship with a helicopter, for example, could pick us up. Or an international humanitarian mission that could come to us and ensure our security and accompany us along the way. to the country that will make such commitments.”

Volyna described the situation at the plant as “critical”, with a large number of wounded soldiers and limited medical care.

“We’re completely surrounded,” he said. “There are about 500 military personnel injured, it is difficult to provide medical care to them. They are really rotting. There are civilians on the territory. They are also suffering from explosions, explosions on them, next to them. [the Russians] Use heavy plane bombs against us and attack with artillery. “

“This happens all the time. The city is destroyed. The enemy groups are dozens of times larger than us, they have complete advantages in terms of air force, artillery, equipment and manpower. We fight. to the last one, but we have very little time left,” he continued.

The Ukrainian commander estimates that “hundreds of civilians” are sheltering on the factory’s territory.

“We make an absolute appeal to all world leaders: Anyone who will be able to make such commitments, anyone who will be able to have short-term success agreeing on a prime ministerial policy,” he said. such custom. “We know that there are some developments and negotiations with the Turkish side that they act as a guarantor. Maybe the United States, because we believe it is a very powerful country with a strong leader, [President Joe] Biden, and that he can deal with this on his own in the shortest time possible. Or this problem can be solved with his help in no time. “

Volyna declined to comment on the number of troops holding at Azovstal.

“If the world hears us, if the world leaders hear us, we very much hope so, and the extraction procedure will be done, then people will understand the quantitative composition of these substances. captives,” he said.

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