‘All women, children and old people’ evacuated from Azovstal, Ukrainian government says

Civilians evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrive at a temporary accommodation center in the village of Bezimenne, Ukraine, on May 6. (Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said “all women, children and the elderly” had been evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks.

“The president’s order has been carried out,” she said. “This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation is over.”

In brief comments to CNN from inside the Azovstal plant on Saturday evening local time, one of the complex’s Ukrainian defenders said an evacuation of civilians had gone without incident.

The comments were made by Mykhailo Vershynin, Mariupol’s patrol police chief. He gave no details of how many may have left.

Separately, the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said Russian forces continued to block Ukrainian troops inside the plant and used artillery and tank fire as they carried out military operations. ‘assault.

What Russia says: A senior Russian official has confirmed that the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steelworks has been completed.

Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, said Russia had evacuated a total of 51 civilians from Azovstal, in cooperation with the United Nations and the Red Cross, since May 5. . Mizintzev said the tally included just one person evacuated on Saturday.

The Russian account, carried by the state news agency TASS, appears to match that of the Ukrainian government.

The total of 51 evacuees is far below previous estimates of the number of civilians still trapped in Azovstal. As of Saturday morning local time, more than 100 civilians – including children – were still trapped inside the sprawling compound, along with several hundred soldiers, many of whom were injured. It’s unclear how many more men besides the Ukrainian soldiers might still be in the sprawling compound.

One of the Ukrainian soldiers still in Azovstal, Serhiy Volina, posted on Facebook late Saturday local time: “Looks like I’m on some hellish reality show where we military are fighting for life, grabbing all the chances of saving and the whole world is just watching an interesting story!” he said.

“This is real life! Pain, suffering, hunger, torment, tears, fear, death – it’s all real!” he wrote.

Volina said he was hoping for a miracle from the “higher powers” and that “this reality TV hell will end.”

“Time passes, and time is our lives!” he concluded.

Christi C. Elwood