EXCLUSIVE: Ukrainian fighter from Mariupol says: ‘We will fight as long as we have to’ 2022-04-28 05:45:00

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  • The fighter is among the forces entrenched in the steelworks
  • He says Russia is waging a “medieval siege”
  • He says the United Nations can be a guarantor of civilian evacuations

Kyiv (Reuters) – A Ukrainian soldier hiding in a steel factory in Mariupol said his forces will fight for as long as possible and urged world leaders to find a way to rescue civilians and hundreds of soldiers trapped in the ranks of Russian forces. “The Medieval Siege.”

Captain Svyatoslav Palamar, 39, deputy commander of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment, spoke in an interview with Reuters about the steelwork that is the last stronghold of the defenders of the coastal city.

Russian forces have reduced large parts of Mariupol to rubble around the vast complex and underground catacombs, as Palamar and a Ukrainian unit take a last stand.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, who declared control of the city last week, said the plant should be closed so that a “fly” could not escape.

“As long as we are here and hold the defense … the city is not theirs,” Ballamer said.

He said that fierce fighting is still raging and they are constantly bombarded. At one time, Russian troops sent a column of tanks, armored vehicles and infantry, but the defenders destroyed it. He said tactics are constantly changing.

“The tactic (now) is like a medieval siege. We are surrounded and they no longer throw so many troops to break our line of defence. They are launching air strikes,” he said.

Palamar, who is married and has a child, refused to give precise details of the operations because they could help the enemy. He did not say how much food and ammunition they had left, but they still had hundreds of fighters.

“Of course our resources are not infinite and they are decreasing with each passing day of heavy fighting. The situation is difficult, but we will fight and fight as long as we have to.”

He said they have more than 500 wounded fighters, some of whom are in serious condition.

“We don’t have the conditions to treat them, to have a really difficult surgery.. the medicine is running out, the bandages, food and water.”

The capture of Mariupol, on the Sea of ​​Azov in the south of the Donbass industrial region, is crucial to Russian efforts to secure a land bridge to Crimea seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Balamar, who is from the western city of Lviv but has lived in Mariupol since 2014, could not say how many civilians were working in the steelwork, but said they numbered in the hundreds. He said they were sheltering in various hideouts of the soldiers.

Mariupol’s Azovstal business, one of the largest mining plants in Europe, is a huge industrial complex with underground chambers and tunnels.

“We bring them food (for civilians) and check their health, but we cannot stay with them for obvious reasons: the enemy can make a provocation and say that we … were hiding behind the civilians.”

He added that intense missile shelling hit a hideout containing civilians, including children, on Tuesday, and an elderly man and woman were wounded.

The bearded man with a keen gaze spoke to Reuters via Zoom. He said he could not turn on the camera on the call to show his whereabouts in case any intelligence was revealed to the Russians.

He accused Russia of deceptively urging civilians there to evacuate while continuing to bomb the area. He called on international organizations such as the United Nations or the Red Cross to act as a guarantor to get civilians to leave immediately.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is visiting Ukraine and is expected to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later on Thursday after meeting Putin on Tuesday.

Once the civilians are out, Palamar said, the wounded and dead should be returned to Ukraine and safe passage be secured for the Ukrainian contingent there.

He said that being imprisoned was not an option.

“They will be killed in captivity, they will be mutilated, and for this reason we propose the presence of a third party who, during negotiations, can guarantee their exit from Azovstal,”

He mentioned Turkey or Israel as potential third parties.

Ukrainian forces include the Azov battalion, border guards and other brigades, marines, maritime security forces, border guards and police.

He said that the Azov fighters at the crucifixion included Russians, Bulgarians, Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Jews, Catholics and others.

He said his main message to the world was to wake up to the threat posed by Russia and to stop being lenient with Moscow.

“I hope that now the world will realize its mistake … Whatever our soldiers are doing here – not only in Mariupol, but on Ukrainian soil – we are convinced that we are saving not only Ukraine, but also Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova and Georgia.”

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(Reporting by Tom Palmforth and Margarita Chornokondratenko) Editing by Angus Maxwan

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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