The heroic defense of Mariupol has been going on for more than two months, that is, for as long as the war itself. Today the defense is carried out by the Marines, Azov, the National Guard and the Territorial defense forces. All of them, as well as hundreds of women, children, and wounded are concentrated in the basement of the Azovstal plant.
One of the leaders of Mariupol’s defense is Serhiy Volyna, commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade of the Ukrainian Navy. Everyone is watching his video messages from the blocked plant (or rather, what is left of the industrial giant). But Serhiy appeals not only to Ukrainians, but also to world political and religious leaders, as well as leaders of humanitarian organizations. The only request is to ensure the evacuation of the wounded, women and children, and to provide green corridors, but there is no response. And the situation is getting worse every day, even though it seemed like it couldn’t get worse.
A few days ago, the Azovs showed horrible footage from an underground hospital, whichlacked the essentials. A few hours before Volyna and I recorded this interview, the hospital was bombed to pieces.
Just the day before, you pleaded the world to save the Mariupol garrison and apply “extraction” procedures, following the example of the operation in Dunkirk. What should it look like in practice?
I believe that the main factor is security guarantees and representatives of international organizations such as the United Nations, which could practically ensure the security and evacuation of people from the Mariupol garrison.
You have made several appeals to the leaders of the world, to the Pope, but there is no public information about their answers. Let me make sure I’ve got this right: there were none?
If talking about leaders I have addressed, apart from our President, no one contacted us neither in writing, nor by telephone or any other way.
Has the nature of the Russian hostilities changed after Putin ordered Shoigu not to attackMariupol industrial zone on April 21?
There were 50 air strikes tonight and our hospital took a direct hit with a bomb. Our medical infrastructure and operating room were destroyed. Many boys died at the scene. Many wounded received new injuries, doctors were injured, the situation is becoming more critical. It only changes for the worse.
There was also information from your brothers-in-arms about the use of phosphorus bombs over the plant. How does this affect protection?
I confirm that (Russians) use phosphorus munitions. They exploit everything and just demolish, wipe off the face of the Earth the facility we are in. There is not a single building that remains intact.
The fire is more dense and powerful than words can describe. During 10 hours of sleep at night, there were more than 50 air strikes, not to mention the work of naval artillery from Russian warships, and the unstoppable land artillery. We don’t even count the amount of that fire.
Just the day before, in an interview with LB.ua, Andriy Biletsky, the founder and first commander of the Azov Regiment, said he estimated that about 10% of the total capacity of the Russian army was concentrated near Mariupol. Do you agree?
I cannot give an accurate estimate of the percentage of the entire group of the Russian Federation operating in Ukraine. The fact is that the enemy outnumbers us 10 to 1, 20 to 1, and maybe more. If we talk about equipment, machinery, artillery, then it’s hundreds to one. We have no means in the air or at sea.
There was information that fighting was taking place on the streets of the city. Are they happening now, or is it more about the neighborhood and the defense of the plant?
We have been talking about the defense of the plant for a long time, but there are residential areas on the approaches to it.
Sure, where the line of defense lies, there is always fighting.
Your brothers-in-arms said that you even managed to counterattack the enemy.
Of course we take every chance if it is necessary and can bring us tactical success. The battalion and garrison of Mariupol are fighting and will continue to fight hard. The guys from every unit, from the whole groupare fighting, they have a high morale, the combat mission is being performed. Our request for the “extraction” procedure is a request to keep the fighters alive and to take out the wounded who are not combatants. As for hostilities, they will continue until a decision is made.
How are your relations with official Kyiv? You mentioned that you communicate with President Zelenskyy, but according to some of your brothers’-in-arms appeals it seems like that communication is not very effective. Tell us how things really are.
This morning I received a message from the President answering my question. There is communication, but it seems to me that our leader and his advisers are in dire need of international assistance. I think he has few answers for us, which is why he has little to tell us. Yes, we keep in touch, he’s there. If we need a connection with him, we have one, but he can’t give us specific information, nor does anyone else.
It is clear that we need weapons. Larger deliveries from our western partners have already begun. In a recent interview Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danylov said that sometimes they managed to transfer aid by helicopter for defenders of Mariupol, and mostly it was weapons. If possible, tell us more about it. Is it possible now to break through the defenses so as to establish supply?
I think it is a very difficult process, and I do not know whether it is worth considering at all today. When such procedures took place, the defense area was wider and larger, which made it possible for the helicopters to land. Now there are difficulties because the defense area has narrowed and the security, respectively, has decreased.
What is the current situation in Azovstal with water and food? How long does it take for supplies to run out?
The situation is utopian – no food, no water, no medicine at all. The situation is very critical.
President Zelenskyy said that in communication with the defenders of Mariupol he gave you the right to leave the line of defense, if you deem it necessary. If the wounded and civilians are evacuated, will you somehow regroup or stay here until death?
We have nowhere to retreat, no one is going toleave the weapon. There are people left who will make here their last stand. We follow the orders of commanders and fulfill our constitutional duty to protect the country.
Regarding the evacuation of the wounded… They are not combatants of international humanitarian law. They must have been evacuated because they have the right to genuine medical care and provision.
But the Russian Federation is not guided by humanitarian law. Unfortunately.
Sorry, it is not Russia that should act here, but the relevant humanitarian organizations, non-governmental organizations and anyone who is the guarantor of security.
Maybe after your statements and this interview they will change their point of view. I can’t help but ask, what gives you the strength to hold on? Because the phenomenon of defenders of Mariupol is even bigger today than the phenomenon of defenders of Donetsk airport.
Boundless love for Ukraine.Azovstal mariupol Russia russia ukraine war Ukraine