Russia says it will evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers from Azovstal

LONDON: Russia said on Monday (May 16) that it had agreed to evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the bunkers below the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol to a medical facility in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk.

“An agreement has been reached on the removal of the wounded,” the Moscow defence ministry said in a statement.

“A humanitarian corridor has been opened through which wounded Ukrainian servicemen are being taken to a medical facility in Novoazovsk.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar told Ukrainian television: “Any information can harm the processes that are taking place … Inasmuch as the process is under way, we can’t say what’s happening right now.”

As Russian forces pummelled Mariupol for nearly two months, some civilians and Ukrainian fighters sought refuge in the Azovstal works – a vast Soviet-era plant founded under Josef Stalin and designed with a labyrinth of bunkers and tunnels to withstand attack.

Most civilians were evacuated from the plant this month after the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross brokered a deal with Russia and Ukraine.

But Ukrainian fighters remain at the plant. Videos and pictures posted online have shown some with serious injuries.