Trapped von Azovstal: Senior Cleric Appeals to Putin

Surrounded by Azovstal
Senior Cleric Appeals to Putin

Their situation is desperate: dozens of civilians and hundreds of fighters are said to be held in the Mariupol steel plants, many of them seriously wounded. Now the Ukrainian clergyman Onofry turns to Kremlin President Putin and reminds him of Christian values.

In a new appeal, senior Ukrainian cleric Onofry has asked Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin to rescue people from steel plants in the port city of Mariupol. Putin should act like a Christian and let besieged civilians, fighters and security forces flee to Ukraine-controlled areas or to third countries. The head of the largest Ukrainian Orthodox church in the Moscow Patriarchate has said that an intermediary state chosen by the Kremlin may lead the expedition.

The clergyman asked Putin, himself a member of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, to remember his parents who once fought for their lives in the German city of Leningrad, and now Saint Petersburg. “The residents of Mariupol and their defenders are in the same situation today,” Onofry was quoted as saying by the media.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, about 100 civilians are still residing at the steel plants, and many people managed to leave the plant last time. In addition, according to Russian information, more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters and foreign mercenaries are holed up there. The fighters have so far rejected Putin’s demands to surrender and lay down their arms. The Russian President had assured them that they would not storm the industrial zone in this case.

Hundreds of wounded are still in the steel plant

“Hundreds of people have been injured,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Verychuk said. Wereshuk said some soldiers were “severely injured” and had to be removed “urgently” from the steel mills. “The situation is getting worse every day.”

But the fighters repeatedly reported intense bombing of the steel works. According to Ukrainian media, the former commander of the Azov regiment Maxim Zorin said that diplomatic efforts to rescue the fighters are continuing. Meanwhile, he said that an operation was underway to liberate Mariupol from the Russian siege with a military operation. But this takes a lot of time. The fighters there may not have that time anymore.

Azov Steel is the last stronghold of the Ukrainian army in the ruined Mariupol. Hundreds of civilians also holed up in the sprawling industrial complex that houses several underground facilities for several weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After a series of evacuations, Vereshock announced over the weekend that all “women, children and elderly civilians” had been evacuated from the compound.

The capture of the southern Ukrainian port city of more than 400,000 people would be an important strategic victory for the Russian military, as it would allow Russia to establish a direct land connection with the annexed Crimea on the Black Sea.

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