Ukrainian soldiers at Azovstal factory ask for help

The Azov Battalion, entrenched in the Azovstal factory, released a series of photos of wounded soldiers and called on the United Nations and the Red Cross to evacuate them.

A series of photos published today on the Azov Battalion’s Telegram account show a makeshift, poorly lit “hospital” in the basement of the Azovstal Steel Plant in the city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine. The soldiers in the photo were all injured, some lost their arms, some lost their legs.

In this photo published on May 11, a soldier from the Azoz Battalion, who lost an arm due to an injury, is in the basement of the Azovstal steel factory.  Photo: Reuters.

In this photo, released May 11, a soldier from the Azoz Battalion lost an arm in the basement of the Azovstal Steel Factory. Picture: Azov battalion.

“The whole civilized world needs to see the conditions endured by the soldiers protecting the wounded and disabled Mariupol,” the account reads in the post. “In completely unsanitary conditions, with the open wound covered with undisinfected remnants of bandages, there was no necessary medication, not even food.”

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said on May 10 that more than 1,000 soldiers, including hundreds of wounded, were still at the Azovstal factory. Ms. Vereshchuk said the seriously injured urgently needed to be evacuated and the situation was getting worse every day.

“We call on the United Nations and the Red Cross to show humanity and reaffirm the basic principles they have laid down by rescuing the wounded and disabled,” the Azov Battalion post stressed. “Can’t Ukraine and the world community protect and care for them now?”.

The battalion recommended “the immediate evacuation of wounded soldiers to Ukrainian-controlled areas” where they can receive adequate support and care.

Two soldiers who lost their legs to injuries are in the basement of the Azovstal steel mill in this photo released May 11.  Photo: Reuters.

Two soldiers who lost their legs to injuries are in the basement of the Azovstal steel mill in this photo released May 11. Picture: Azov battalion.

The Azovstal Steelworks is the only stronghold of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Mariupol. The bunker system beneath the factory has become a permanent location for members of the Azov Battalion of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry since the siege by Russian forces in early March.

Russia has repeatedly urged the Ukrainian soldiers at the factory to lay down their arms and surrender, promising to guarantee their lives. In late April, the Kremlin confirmed that all wounded and sick would receive medical care in the event of a surrender. However, the Ukrainian armed forces repeatedly rejected the Russian side’s proposal.

Last weekend, Ukraine announced that all the women, children and elderly people hiding at the Azovstal steel plant have been successfully evacuated thanks to a humanitarian corridor coordinated by the United Nations and the International Red Cross. Ukraine says at least 100 civilians remain at the facility alongside the military.

The military situation in Ukraine after 11 weeks of fighting.  Graphic: Washington Post.

Ministry of War of Ukraine. Graphic: Washington Post.

Huyen Le (Corresponding Guardian)