A video taken by a Ukrainian soldier shows a raging fire inside the Azovstal complex where a small contingent of Ukrainians are holding off a much larger Russian force. The soldiers have been using the bunkers under the Azovstal iron and steel works complex to make a final stand in the city.
Mariupol is seen as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, the David vs Goliath battle between a small European nation and its large neighbour playing out in real time.
In the text accompanying the video, it says: “Mariupol Azovstal. These are the conditions in which our fighters have to live and fight: every minute something arrives, but they hold on.”
The video was shared by @Rinegati.
The situation is increasingly dire in the steelworks as Russians besiege the soldiers and regularly pound them with artillery.
Last month, Vladimir Putin declared Mariupol all but free of Ukrainian resistance, opting to seal off and siege the steelworks rather than storm the complex and risk even more Russian lives.
He said: “Block off this industrial area so that a fly cannot pass through.
“There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities.”
Despite this, the city has been a thorn in the side of the Russian military, which seeks to create a land bridge from the occupied Crimean Peninsula to the Donbas separatist region, where it is launching its eastern offensive.
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The city has seen some of the most brutal fighting of the conflict with the mayor estimating that 21,000 civilians had died.
Hundreds of civilians were trapped inside the Azovstal steel works alongside Ukrainian soldiers . However, last week it was reported that the last of the civilians were able to escape.
An estimated 2,000 soldiers remain, many of them wounded. Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, spoke to an online news conference about their situation and vowed to fight to the death.
He said: “We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers.
“We don’t have much time, we are coming under intense shelling.”
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He called on the international community to assist in the evacuation of wounded from the steel works.
Illia Samoilenko, a fighter with the Azov Regiment, told the press conference that the soldiers still had plenty of water, ammunition and weapons and were prepared to continue the fight.
He said: “We can die at any moment…our message is don’t waste our efforts.”
He called for the fight to continue against the Russians, rather than trying to pacify Moscow with negotiations.