The pledge comes as the most senior Russian government official who has not set foot in Mariupol welcomes the “restoration of peace” in “liberated” cities.
Ukrainian fighters holed up in underground bunkers at a huge steel plant in the southeastern city of Mariupol vowed to fight until the end as Russian forces continued their attacks on the Azovstal plant.
“We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” Captain Svyatoslav Balamar, deputy commander of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment, said in an online conference on Sunday.
“We don’t have much time. He pleaded with the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers from the factory in Mariupol.
The Azovstal Steel Plant is the last enclave of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated port city, and its fate has taken on symbolic value in the broader battle since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Hundreds of civilians also took refuge from Russian attacks at the steel plant for weeks, but all were evacuated in recent days as part of a humanitarian mission coordinated by the United Nations and the Red Cross.
Only fighters and medics remain in Azovstal now.
But another officer in the Azov Regiment also said that surrender “is not an option.”
“We are all military personnel of the Mariupol garrison, we witnessed the war crimes committed by Russia and the Russian army. We are witnesses,” said Ilya Samuelenko, an intelligence officer.
Surrender is not an option because Russia is not interested in our lives.
He added that the regiment would not give up 200 or so wounded soldiers.
“We cannot abandon our wounded and our dead – these people deserve proper treatment, they deserve a burial worthy of that name. We will not leave anyone behind,” he said.
Ukrainian officials vowed to continue diplomatic efforts to evacuate the soldiers, with Mikhailo Podolak, a senior adviser to the Ukrainian president, saying on social media that Kyiv “will not stop until we evacuate all our people” from Azovstal.
Khosnolin visits Mariupol
Mariupol is key to Moscow’s efforts to link Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014, and parts of the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions that have been held by Russian-backed separatists since then.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khosnolin said on Telegram that he visited Mariupol on Sunday, the country’s most senior government figure to set foot in the city after weeks of Russian bombing.
Khosnolin, who is responsible for construction and urban development for the Russian government, said on Telegram that he had visited Mariupol and the eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakia, among other areas “liberated” by Russian forces.
Begin restoring peaceful life in the territories. There is much work to be done. And he wrote in a post on Telegram, we will help, in particular … with humanitarian assistance.
Khosnolin visited Mariupol’s commercial port, which he said should be used to bring in building materials for the city’s restoration, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel.
Denis Pushilin, the head of the port, who accompanied Khosnolin, said on Telegram that the port will ship its first shipment from the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic in May.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”