Relatives and supporters of the Ukrainian fighters holed up in the Azovstal steel plant demonstrated in Kyiv on Thursday, pleading for them to be rescued.
Russian forces have been bombarding the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city now almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of a siege.
Many of the civilians holed up at the plant have been evacuated but no deal has been reached with Moscow on allowing out hundreds of fighters, some of whom are wounded.
Demonstrators, mostly women, marched through central Kyiv, holding banners and chanting, “Save defenders of Mariupol, save Azovstal,” “Glory to the heroes of Mariupol,” and, “Save the military of Azovstal.”
Maria Zimareva, whose relative is among the Azov battalion fighters, said tearfully, “I want all the defenders who are there to return home so that they can continue a normal life with their children and relatives.”
People holed up in the steelworks were dying of wounds that could normally be treated, said Tetiana Pogorlova.
“Nobody attempts to save them. There is nothing we can do except for gathering at such demonstrations and making demands on our authorities.”
Mariupol resident Alina Nesterenko was also at the demonstration in the capital. “The conditions they are in are horrible,” she said. “I have no words to describe them. That's why we are here. We are begging, we are pleading in every possible way, we are asking for our loved ones to be saved.”