The wives of Ukrainian servicemen remaining at the blockaded Azovstal plant in war-torn Mariupol held a press conference on May 15. Here are the highlights of what they said.
Situation at Azovstal
The wives of Ukrainian servicemen at Azovstal keep in touch with them by corresponding in messengers once a day or every other day. Some, like Olha, the wife of a wounded soldier, once a fortnight.
The fighters say that the Russian occupiers continue to bomb, so they hardly go up to the surface. When they succeed, the military tries to find water and food. Kateryna, the wife of one of the servicemen, said that they are limited to drinking one glass of technical water a day. In addition, there is a critical situation with medicines at the besieged plant.
The mood among the military is quite pessimistic, the fighters are preparing for the "last battle" because they do not really believe in a diplomatic solution to this issue. "Despite the negotiations, many, many people die every day, the wounded suffer," the women said.
On the unblocking of Mariupol and evacuation
A military blockade is possible, but we do not have time for that. People die every day.
We understand that the main role of Mariupol in this war is to gather a huge number of forces so that our troops can liberate Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv. We do not know whether the Russians would not have taken Kyiv if not for Mariupol, if not for Azov. We believe in our government and trust it. We just ask you to continue to focus all your attention, all your efforts, all the political and diplomatic pressure there. That's all we ask.
All the defenders of Mariupol have done enough to be evacuated, they deserve to live. Therefore, we hope for a quick solution, a coalition of countries that can help our government.
An option was worked out for the Azov warriors to lay down their arms in a third country and leave through it. We implore countries to join it, to form a coalition that will insist on this, and we ask everyone who can offer themselves as a third country to do so.
On the wounded
The number of wounded is constantly changing, as some wounded die, others are added through shelling and bombing. We know that there were about 700 people. Now we do not know how many there are. The "hospital" is very hot and stuffy. It has very limited access to food.
First of all, it is necessary to take out the wounded, who may die within a day. But we insist on the evacuation of absolutely everyone. Today we will take out all the wounded, and tomorrow there will be another 200.
By injuries we mean people who do not have arms and legs, broken internal organs, major injuries. For Azov soldiers, a splinter in the leg or superficial injuries is not even deemed an injury.
Antibiotics are available in very limited quantities for particularly difficult operations. People with amputations lie without them, without painkillers. People with serious injuries simply suffer from pain. Limbs are amputated even with minor injuries, without painkillers — just like that. Their brothers-in-arms are watching all this.
Meeting with the Pope
It was unexpected for us that he got up when he saw us. From the looks and gestures, it was clear that he was very empathetic to our problem, deep in it.
We asked if he was considering coming to Mariupol to evacuate our military. He replied that he had spoken to the cardinal, and he replied that this was not a problem. For us it is a breath of fresh air, a new hope.
On the surrender of soldiers to Russia
There is no information about exactly how many times they were offered this. But it happens all the time. We know that they do not deserve to die in torture. They will be there to the last, because they followed the call of the heart, knowing that it could be a one-way ticket. They are for Ukraine till the end.
Prior to that, since 2014, only one Azov has returned from Russian captivity: with broken teeth, damaged internal organs, and in a terrible state. All others were tortured and killed. That is, surrender is not an option at all.
About the fight against propaganda
We are engaged in information warfare every day, we are fighting against fakes, Russian propaganda, we are shouting about Azovstal, and this, in principle, is yielding results. The first week we were in Europe, we kept being asked the same questions: "Are you all Nazis?" We have strong arguments, and these myths are very easy to dispel. Few people ask these questions now, because it is cynical and ridiculous. Everyone understands who the real fascist, terrorist and real enemy of the world is.