A Ukrainian defense official said that 264 wounded Ukrainian servicemen were taken from the besieged Azov steel plant in the city of Mariupol to two Russian-controlled towns in the same region of Donetsk for medical treatment.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on May 17 that the wounded servicemen, consisting of national guardsmen, marines, border guards and other units will later be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to unblock the Azovstal steel plant militarily,” she said on Twitter.
Reuters news agency published a video showing buses arriving with the wounded Ukrainians in the Donetsk regional town of Novoazovsk.
The commander of the Azov Regiment of the National Guard stationed in Mariupol, Denys Propokenko, released a video on his Telegram channel saying, “the defenders of Mariupol carried out the order, despite all the difficulties, distracted the overwhelming forces of the enemy for 82 days and allowed the Ukrainian army to regroup, train more personnel and receive a large number of weapons from partner countries.”
Local officials have said that about 600 wounded servicemen were at the steel plant located near the Azov Sea coast. The combined Ukrainian forces there are facing severe shortages of potable water, food, medicine and weapons against overwhelming invading Russian forces who’ve penetrated its vast tunnel network and bunkers.
An estimated 1,000 Ukrainian defenders remain at the steel works resisting the Russian onslaught.
After the news broke of the evacuation in Mariupol, the mayor of western Ukraine’s most populous city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, wrote on Telegram that explosions were heard in the city.
“There are explosions in Lviv. People, stay in bomb shelters,” he said.
A Lviv resident who works as an information technology specialist texted the Kyiv Post that at least five explosions were heard in the city of some 800,000 people.
Russia last targeted the city with cruise missile rockets on May 3, striking railway electrical power substations while wounding two people.
Russia renewed its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 with a full-scale assault. Kyiv estimates Russia’s combat losses so far at more than 27,000 personnel. Most of the fighting now is in the two easternmost regions of Luhansk and Donetsk and parts of southern Ukraine.
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