Ukraine’s Azov Regiment said on Friday that the military command has issued an order to save the lives of soldiers and stop the defense of Mariupol.
“The higher military command has given the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and to stop defending the city,” the commander of the regiment, Denys Prokopenko, said in a video on Telegram.
Prokopenko also said that civilians and heavily wounded Ukrainian fighters had been evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.
“We have constantly emphasized the three most important conditions for us: civilians, wounded and dead,” Prokopenko added.
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“The civilians have been evacuated. The heavily wounded received the necessary assistance and they were evacuated, to be later exchanged and delivered to territory controlled by Ukraine,” Prokopenko said.
Prokopenko said the process of removing the dead from the Azovstal plant, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance against Russian forces in Mariupol, was still under way.
“I hope that in the near future, relatives and Ukraine will be able to bury their soldiers with honor,” he said.
The soldiers, blockaded in the giant steelworks for weeks, have become a symbol of Ukraine’s fierce resistance to Russia’s invasion.
The comments came as Moscow said 1,908 Ukrainian troops trapped in the factory have surrendered since Monday.