The wife of the last remaining Azovstal steelworking warrior begs Pope Francis for help

The wives of the two last remaining Ukrainian fighters hiding at a steel mill in Mariupol asked Pope Francis on Wednesday to help evacuate soldiers from the factory.

After a general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Katerina Prokopenko, 27, and Julia Pedosouuk, 29, spoke with the Pope for about five minutes. It’s not an option.”

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.

“You are our last hope. I hope you can save their lives. Please don’t let them die.” Caterina could be heard speaking to the Pope in a video released by the Vatican.

The family begged the Pope to speak with President Vladimir Putin.


The women later told reporters that they had explained to the pope scenes of wounded soldiers at the ironworks, rotting flesh, unburied corpses, and lack of food, water and medicines. They said they had the last conversation with her husband, members of the Azov Regiment, on Tuesday.

“Our soldiers are waiting to be evacuated to a third country,” Yulia said. “If you do, you can put down your weapons.”

The Pope said he would do everything possible and pray for them. The wives said they had asked Pope Francis to come to Ukraine to speak with Putin.

Dozens of civilians have been evacuated from the steel mill in recent days, but Mariupol mayor’s aide Petro Andryushchenko said at least 100 people were still inside. Pope Francis said in an interview published on May 3 that he had asked Putin to meet in Moscow to stop the war in Ukraine, but he did not receive a reply. In an interview with the same newspaper, he urged Russian Patriarch Kirill not to “turn into Putin’s altar boy” about the invasion of Ukraine.

Kateryna urged countries to “form a strong diplomatic coalition to ensure that Putin can travel safely to third countries.”

Yulia added that the last time she spoke to her husband, she asked him to find an article on the Internet about how to live the longest without water.

Ukrainian soldiers in the shelter of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol


The Azov Regiment said in a social media post on Tuesday that 34 Russian aircraft had flown over the plant in the last 24 hours, including eight sorties by strategic bombers. The plant was attacked by Russian navy and tanks, artillery and rockets, it said. Reuters could not confirm the situation.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine “special operations” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist claims are unfounded and that war is a legitimate act of aggression.

On the other hand, there are conflicting explanations as to whether civilians are still trapped in the steelworks. The Russian leader of the Russian-backed People’s Republic of Donetsk, Italy, said on Wednesday that there were no civilians left at the Azovstal steel plant in the occupied Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Tass news agency reported.

“According to our information, there are no civilians left there. As a result, the hands of our troops are no longer bound,” said Denis Pushilin of the separatists who participated in the attack on Mariupol.

However, local officials said at least 100 civilians were still crouching. Dozens of wounded warriors are also believed to be in the bombed-out factories.

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