(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Ukraine is doing “everything possible and impossible” to save the remaining fighters trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, a senior official has said.
Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Kyiv knew how many soldiers were still at the plant, but stressed that it was “sensitive information”.
On Monday, 264 fighters – many badly wounded – were evacuated to areas held by Russian-backed rebels.
On Tuesday, another seven buses were seen leaving the site, Reuters said.
It added that the convoy later arrived in Olenivka, a village held by pro-Russian rebels in the eastern Donbas region.
Russian prosecutors said they would question all the Ukrainian soldiers as part of an investigation into what Moscow describes as “Ukrainian regime crimes against Donbas civilians”.
Ukraine wants its troops – the last defenders of the southern port city – to be exchanged for captured Russian soldiers as part of an evacuation deal confirmed by Moscow.
Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers – Marines, the National Guard (including the Azov regiment), border guards, police and territorial defence units – as well as a number of civilians with young children have been holed up at the site since advancing Russian troops encircled Mariupol in early March.
Earlier this month, dozens of civilians were evacuated from Mariupol to both Russia-controlled and Ukraine-controlled territory.