Relatives of Ukrainian fighters at the Azovstal steel plant held a protest on Thursday calling for new efforts to rescue those trapped inside the plant.
Protesters marched through central Kyiv with banners shouting slogans and banners such as “Save the defenders of Mariupol, save Azovsthal”, “Glory to the heroes of Mariupol” and “Save the army of Azovstal”. marched across
Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov, suffered one of the most devastating battles of the Ukrainian War. Kyiv said tens of thousands of people have likely died there since the start of the Russian invasion, and the Azovstal steel plant is still the last part of the city to be held by Ukrainian fighters.
Last week, many civilians were evacuated from this huge factory under an agreement with Russia, but there was no agreement for free fighters. Many of these people are injured and face food and food shortages.
Photos released on Wednesday show wounded warriors trapped in a steel mill.
Azov Batallion’s fighters said their comrades were “living in unsanitary conditions with open wounds bandaged with unsterilized bandages without the necessary medicines and food.”
Maria Zimareva, whose relative is an Azov Battalion fighter, told Reuters.
“The situation they are in is terrible,” said Alina Nesterenko, a resident of Mariupol. “I have no words to describe them. That is why we are here. We beg, we beg in every possible way, and we ask that our loved ones be saved.”
NPR reported on Wednesday that protests also took place outside a hotel in Zaporizia.
“They are abandoning our soldiers,” said Yaroslava Ivansova, whose husband is one of the Ukrainian fighters. “We cannot allow this to happen.”
Ukrainian officials say about 1,000 fighters are holding out in Azovstal’s many underground tunnels, and hundreds are seriously injured and need urgent evacuation. The plant is experiencing a serious Russian fire.
The wives of some militants appealed to Pope Francis this week to intervene with Russian President Vladimir Putin to allow their husbands to escape the factories and go to intercession.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Thursday that authorities were working with the Red Cross and the United Nations to help with the evacuation.
“We have started a new round of negotiations around the roadmap for the (evacuation) operation. And we will start with those who are seriously injured,” the minister said in a 1+1 broadcast.
“We want to sign a document on how the evacuation will take place in Azovstal,” she said, adding that Turkey is also acting as an intermediary.
Russia has offered to host talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents.
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