Inside Mariupol’s last stronghold: Commander pleas as troops ‘outnumbered ten to one’

20 April 2022, 14:30 | Updated: 20 April 2022, 16:03

Mariupol soldiers are fighting to defend the last stronghold in Mariupol.
Mariupol soldiers are fighting to defend the last stronghold in Mariupol. Picture: Alamy/Twitter

By Emma Soteriou

Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol have said they are facing up to their final 'hours' as Russia continues its attack on a stronghold in a steel plant.

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Russian troops pushed Ukrainian forces back, encircling the city at the beginning of March and attacking with mass artillery fire.

The desperate fight to keep control of the area has since left it in ruins.

Over 20,000 civilians are thought to have been killed, local authorities estimated.

Serhei Volyna, the commanding officer of Ukraine's 36th Marine Brigade, said in a video from the Azovstal outpost that his troops were outnumbered "10 to one".

He said: "We are probably facing our last days, if not hours. The enemy outnumbers us 10 to one.

"They have the advantage in the air, in artillery, in land forces, in equipment and tanks.

"We are only defending one position - the Azovstal steel factory, where in addition to military personnel there are civilians who have fallen victim to this war.

"We appeal and plead to all wold leaders to help us.

"We ask them to use the procedure of extraction and take us to the territory of a third country."

Read more: Workers who stayed behind at Ukraine zoo to help animals 'shot dead by Russians'
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Ukrainian troops are 'repelling' Russian attacks as shelling 'intensifies' in Donbas

'We're facing our last days' - Ukrainian soldier in Mariupol makes urgent appeal for help

It comes as Ukraine said it was continuing evacuation efforts to bring some civilians out of Mariupol on Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said there was a "preliminary" agreement to operate a so-called humanitarian corridor westward to the Ukraine-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, applying to women, children and older people from the afternoon.

She added that Mariupol was the focus of Ukrainian efforts to help civilians because of the "catastrophic humanitarian situation" in the city.

However, it was not clear if the deal included those sheltering with soldiers in the Azovstal steel works.

Mariupol: Steel plant where people are reportedly sheltering seen on fire from airstrike

Meanwhile, Russia has offered up a surrender deal outlining its demands as part of peace talks, a Kremlin spokesman said.

Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters that Russia had passed on a draft document containing "absolutely clear, elaborate wording" to Ukraine and now "the ball is in their court, we're waiting for a response".

He also accused Ukraine of being responsible for slow progress in negotiations, claiming that Kyiv constantly deviates from previously confirmed agreements.

Ukraine presented Russia with its own draft last month in Istanbul, where the two sides held talks aimed at ending the conflict.