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More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the besieged Azovstal complex

More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the besieged Azovstal complex

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced that more than 260 Ukrainian soldiers, including 53 wounded, were evacuated Monday from the Azovstal steel complex, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian resistance in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, which is controlled by Russian forces.

Deputy Defense Minister Ghana Maliar said in a video message that “on May 16, 53 seriously wounded (military) were evacuated from Azovstal to Novoazovsk to receive health care, and 211 others were transferred to Olinivka via a humanitarian corridor,” noting that these soldiers will be completed later. They “exchanged” them, since the two cities to which they were transferred are under the control of Russian and pro-Moscow separatist Ukrainian forces.

Earlier, a Reuters witness said that about a dozen buses carrying Ukrainian soldiers who were holed up at the Azovstal steel plant in southeastern Ukraine, which is besieged by Russia, left the factory on Monday.

It was not possible at the time to determine the number of soldiers who were on the buses. It was also not clear if they were all among the 40 wounded Ukrainian fighters who were said to have been under the plant. About 600 soldiers are said to be inside.

Another witness reported that Ukrainian soldiers who were evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant arrived late Monday in the city of Novoazovsk.

The witness added that some of the evacuees were taken from buses on stretchers.

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Novoazovsk is now under the control of Russian-backed separatists who have controlled parts of eastern Ukraine since 2014.

In addition, Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko announced on Monday the killing of 15 women from the army and health sector at the Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian city.

“This is a tragedy for the entire Ukrainian people,” the Ukrainian news agency quoted Boychenko as saying.

He added that city council members called on the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Saturday to “use all available means at the international level to rescue the Ukrainian fighters who are besieged in the factory.”