Ukraine declares 'combat mission' over in Mariupol amid mass evacuations
Zelenskyy said: 'Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive'
After weeks of unrelenting bombardment from Russian forces, the Ukrainian military has finished its "combat mission" in Mariupol.
Ukrainian soldiers have fought hard in the coastal city of Mariupol, having previously vowed to "fight until the end," despite dwindling numbers and scarce ammunition. Now, officials have confirmed that Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from the war-torn area.
The Azovstal defenders pinned Russian forces in Mariupol until Ukraine won in Kharkiv. Encirclement of Kyiv’s troops in Donbas is now highly unlikely. Their contribution to the county’s freedom is immense. Their sacrifice should be celebrated as heroic. It will become historic.
— Maxim Tucker (@MaxRTucker) May 16, 2022
Hundreds of people were evacuated on Monday from Azovstal steelworks. Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar confirmed that "Fifty-three seriously injured people were evacuated from Azovstal to a medical facility in Novoazovsk."
She added: "Another 211 people were taken to Olenivka through the humanitarian corridor."
“Reuters saw about a dozen buses apparently carrying Ukrainian fighters leaving the plant on Monday.” – photos of buses supposedly evacuating Mariupol defenders from Azovstal are circulating online, after commander of Azov said the regiment “fulfilled their orders”
— Anastasiia Lapatina (@lapatina_) May 16, 2022
Malyar also confirmed that troops would be exchanged for captured Russian soldiers, as they "do not have the opportunity to unblock Azovstal by military means."
"Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday in a statement. "The 82nd day of our defense is coming to an end. A difficult day. But this day, like all others, is aimed precisely at saving our country and our people."
Defenders of Mariupol are heroes, they gave everything they had, and much, much more.
Any agreement that saves their lives is 100% worth taking.
— Oleksiy Sorokin (@mrsorokaa) May 16, 2022
On Monday, Ukraine's Azov Regiment said that "the entire Mariupol garrison" was following the orders of the "Supreme Military Command."
"In order to save lives, the entire Mariupol garrison is implementing the approved decision of the Supreme Military Command and hopes for the support of the Ukrainian people," they said in a statement.
"The defenders of Mariupol fulfilled the order, despite all the difficulties, and distracted the overwhelming forces of the enemy for 82 days."
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