A total of 264 Ukrainian soldiers, including 53 seriously wounded personnel, have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian General Staff said early Tuesday.
"The evacuation of 53 seriously injured soldiers began and they were taken to the hospital in the town of Novoazovsk. A further 211 soldiers were evacuated from the plant to Olenivka to be transferred to the area under the control of the Ukrainian army through the exchange procedure," it said in a statement.
The garrison in Mariupol has completed its designated combat mission and the Supreme Military Command has ordered the commanders of the military units at the Azovstal plant to save the lives of the personnel, it added.
The statement also noted that efforts to save the remaining soldiers in Azovstal are ongoing.
Meanwhile, in a video address to the nation posted on his Telegram channel, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that "Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle. I think that every adequate person will understand these words."
Additionally, praising the actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukrainian intelligence, the negotiating team, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, he said: "We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys. Among them are the seriously wounded. They are being provided with medical aid."
Russia reached an agreement with besieged Ukrainian servicemen on the evacuation of the wounded at the Azovstal steel plant, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.
"On May 16, as a result of negotiations with representatives of Ukrainian servicemen blocked on the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, an agreement was reached on the evacuation of the wounded," the ministry said in a statement.
At least 3,668 people have been killed and 3,896 injured in Ukraine since Russia began its war on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is believed to be much higher.
Over 6.2 million people have fled to other countries, with some 7.7 million people internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency./aa