The corpses buried under the rubble at the Azovstal steelworks have begun to decompose and the corrupted atmosphere is unbreathable. From the depths of the last redoubt of resistance in Mariupol, the deputy captain of the Azov Battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine, Sviatoslav Palamar, insists in an interview with ABC on the urgency of an evacuation of the plant, a rescue for which he denounces that the government of Volodymyr Zelensky has failed to react. Despite this, he recalls that the order for the combatants to defend the bastion "remains in force" and warns that the time has come for the authorities "to do everything possible to save their soldiers."
In a communication in Ukrainian by audio and by text via WhatsApp with this newspaper, tortuous due to the extreme limitations of the signal in the area obsessively assaulted with bombings by the Russians, the command explains that the seriously injured are "600 combatants" and that the figure it grows.
There are no more antibiotics or amputation material, there are deaths every day. On Tuesday they released photographs of their mutilated, broken men, who have inflamed the desperation of their relatives. They threaten out of sheer impotence to go and extract them from there with their own hands. Giving up, Palamar makes clear, is not an option.
- Do you think that the government is doing everything possible to evacuate the defenders from Azovstal?
- In my opinion, the Ukrainian authorities should have taken up the fight on all grounds since the occupation of Crimea. And not to allow this whole horde to have crept into Mariupol. The forces of the enemy are extremely superior and we have only resisted them. Now the government has understood that we are surrounded and should have taken steps to make a logistics supply corridor. We were ordered and are still in force to 'maintain our defense' and we continue to do so under extremely difficult conditions. The enemy has all the advantages by air and by sea, and therefore it is a very difficult situation. Our leaders should have reacted earlier, immediately.
- Do you think then that the government has abandoned them?
- In my opinion, the government should do everything possible. They say that they are doing everything they can, but the order to maintain the defense in these conditions is impossible and I want them to also do the impossible to save their soldiers.
- Are you contemplating a surrender?
- Do you think your sacrifice for Ukraine has been in vain?
- We believe that our sacrifice is not being in vain. We have faced many troops that had a lot of ammunition, shells, bombs and other weapons and if we had not destroyed them, they would have moved the defense line. And now that line of defense would be much deeper in the Ukraine. Our sacrifice is not only not in vain but has brought extraordinary benefits to Ukraine, to the whole world. We stopped the enemy and that gave our country time to receive weapons and the Russians did not advance.
- Outside of Azovstal, the greatest pressure to be rescued is being done by their families, what message do you send them?
- I just want to say to the wives, mothers, daughters and sons, first of all, that their husbands and wives, those who fight here, are true heroes that everyone should be proud of. And from a command standpoint, we're doing everything we can to save everyone's life, every soldier's life. We appeal to the politicians, we hold the line of defense because if the enemy breaks through, he will absolutely kill everyone. To the wounded, to the living, to all of us who remain here. And of course, I want to appeal again to the international community to intervene immediately. The situation is difficult and critical. That world leaders put pressure on Putin and agree, first of all, to force him to implement all international treaties such as the Geneva Convention. Practice in other wars shows that the exit of this garrison with third-party guarantees is possible.
The precedent that the last defenders of Mariúpol have in mind is the implementation of an 'extraction' procedure like the one used in 1940 in Dunquerke, France, during World War II for the rescue through three corridors in the beaches of 330,000 Allied soldiers who had been pocketed by the Germans. But the request for evacuation, whatever it was, kept coming up yesterday, day 78 of the war and the nineteenth since those from Azovstal showed the first video of their captivity, with nothing. And every hour counts.
The Moscow governor of the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, boasted this Thursday on a Russian television channel that in Mariupol "everything is going according to plan" by the invaders sent by Vladimir Putin and that, since in Azovstal "there are no civilians (...) they can take the situation to its logical conclusion." The dreaded final assault. In his opinion, what those of Azov are looking for is "an honorable surrender" that will not be facilitated, he warned, subtracting possibilities from the offer made Wednesday night by Ukraine to hand over Russian prisoners in exchange for being able to "get our boys out seriously injured" of the underground labyrinth of the steelworks.
“We are not looking for an ideal option, but one that works (…). For now it is impossible to unblock Azovstal by military means, ”said the deputy prime minister of kyiv, Irina Vereshchuk. Negotiations can be sensed from the Zelenski Executive, "a second phase is underway," assured yesterday the Coordinator of Efforts for Humanitarian Corridors of the president's office, Tetiana Lomakina. No more.
The Kremlin has not even bothered to respond to Ukraine's offer.