Maj. Serhii Volyna, commander of Ukraine’s 36th Separate Marine Brigade, spoke by phone to CNN from the besieged city of Mariupol on Tuesday night, requesting that a third country evacuate troops and civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant under heavy Russian bombardment.
“I have a statement for the world,” Volyna said. “It may be my last statement, because we only have a few days, or even hours, left. We call on world leaders to apply the extraction procedure to the military in the Mariupol garrison, to the civilians who are with us here in the plant. We ask you to take us to the territory of a third country and provide us with security.”
Ukrainian forces inside the besieged city have consolidated around the massive Azovstal steel factory.
Ukrainian officials have said that hundreds of civilians are sheltering in the basements of the massive steelworks. A Mariupol police officer told CNN that food and water supplies were running low amid heavy shelling.
Asked how an evacuation could be facilitated, Volyna said: “This should be at the level of agreements. If we talk about a practical application, it could be a ship with helicopters, for example, that could pick us up. Or an international humanitarian mission.” that he can come to us and guarantee our security and accompany us on the path to the State that will assume such commitments.”
Volyna described the situation at the plant as “critical”, with a large number of wounded soldiers and limited medical care.
“We are completely surrounded,” he said. “There are around 500 wounded soldiers, it is very difficult to provide them with medical attention. They literally rot. There are civilians in the territory. They are also having explosions, explosions on them, next to them. [the Russians] use heavy aircraft bombs against us and attack with artillery.”
“This happens all the time. The city is destroyed. The enemy groups outnumber us dozens of times, they have a complete advantage in the air, artillery, equipment, manpower. We fought to the last, but we have left very little time,” he said. continued.
The Ukrainian commander estimated that there were “hundreds of civilians” sheltering in the territory of the plant.
“We call on absolutely all world leaders: whoever is capable of making such commitments, whoever is capable of succeeding in the short term to agree on such a procedure,” he said. “We know that there are some developments and talks with the Turkish side that it is acting as a guarantor. Probably the United States, because we believe that this is a very powerful state with a strong leader. [President Joe] Biden, and that he personally can solve this problem in the shortest possible time. Or this problem can be solved with the help of him in a short time.”
Volyna declined to comment on the number of soldiers holding out in Azovstal.
“If the world listens to us, if the world leaders listen to us, we look forward to it very much, and the extraction procedure will take place, then everyone will understand the quantitative composition of the people who were held captive,” he said.