KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian fighters at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southeastern port of Mariupol, who are the last holdout against Russian forces in the city, vowed on Sunday to continue their stand as long as they are alive.
“We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, told an online news conference.
“We don’t have much time, we are coming under intense shelling,” he said, pleading with the international community to help to evacuate wounded soldiers from the plant.
Illia Samoilenko, a fighter with the Azov Regiment who also took part in the virtual conference, said they still had weapons, munitions and water, and were prepared to fight as long as they must.
“We can die at any moment… Our message is don’t waste our efforts,” Samoilenko said, calling on the Ukrainian government to rely more on continuing fighting against Russian forces than hopes that Moscow can be pacified by negotiations.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a late night address on Saturday that more than 300 civilians had been rescued from the Azovstal plant. He said authorities would now focus on evacuating the wounded and medics, and helping residents elsewhere in Mariupol and surrounding settlements to safety.
Palamar said he could not confirm that all civilians had been evacuated from the plant as Ukrainian fighters are not able to check and clear all the bombed areas.
(Reporting by Natalia ZinetsWriting by Nerijus AdomaitisEditing by Frances Kerry)