Ukraine’s military command said early Tuesday that its mission to rescue the ajustal steel plant, which had been blocked by “heroes of our time” in the strategic southern port of Mariupol, had ended and promised to rescue troops still trapped inside.
“The Mariupol garrison has completed its combat mission,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement. “The Supreme Military Command has instructed the commanders of the units stationed at Azvestal to save the lives of the workers … The defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time. ”
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said a total of 53 wounded soldiers had been evacuated from a hospital in Novosibirsk east of Mariupol on Monday and another 211 had been evacuated.
A Reuters eyewitness said a carrier carrying five buses and an armored personnel carrier arrived in Novosibirsk late Monday and some evacuees were taken to hospital on stretchers, a Reuters eyewitness said. Novgorod is now under the control of Russian-backed separatists who have occupied parts of eastern Ukraine since 2014.
Since Russia began its aggression in February, the destruction of Mariupol has become a symbol of both Ukraine’s ability to repel Russian aggression and Russia’s desire to destroy Ukrainian cities.
Azvastal’s last defenders spent weeks in deep underground bunkers and tunnels to prevent a nuclear war. Earlier this month, one of Europe’s largest metallurgical facilities evacuated civilians from inside the plant.
“Efforts are underway to rescue the defendants in Azovstal territory,” the military said.
There was no immediate reaction from Moscow authorities to the development of Azovstal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Monday a “difficult” day in his nightly video speech.
“Ukraine needs surviving Ukrainian heroes. This is our policy. I think every reasonable person would understand these words, “said Zelensky.
“It simply came to our notice then. And time. ”