Fighters Share Desperate Videos From Mariupol Steel Plant to Promote Story


Since April 18, Azov has released several videos focusing on civilians saying they are trapped in the factory, mostly showing women and children. “I want everyone who sees this video to help us create this green corridor, help us get out of here,” said a mother holding her toddler in a video released April 24, as the Ukraine celebrated the Orthodox Easter. “Sure. Alive. The civilians and the soldiers.”

While Azov is a party to the conflict, The Times has previously reviewed footage released by the group. In the recently shared videos, Azov soldiers hand out treats to children and chat with adults. The relationship between the soldiers and the people who appear in front of the camera and the circumstances under which these images were taken are unclear.

Graphical images shared on regiment-related social media accounts on April 26 showed wounded people lying on stretchers on a concrete floor at an alleged field hospital inside the steel mill.

Two days later, Azov uploaded a video to his social media channels detailing the aftermath of Russian attacks on a field hospital in Azovstal. Footage showed about two dozen people, some wearing plaster casts and bandages, seated in a dim, hazy room. A man with a headlamp digs through the rubble. Another holds a plastic bottle in his shaky hand and sobs.

“The strike was carried out in the area where the seriously wounded are located,” Donetsk regional police chief Mikhail Wershinin said in a voice memo from inside the plant. “People have been buried under rubble, some have died. There are wounded – wounded in addition to the wounds they already had.”

The Azov Regiment was originally formed in May 2014 as the Azov Battalion, named after the body of water containing Mariupol and its now-ruined port, to defend the city when it was attacked by pro-Moscow forces. At the time, it was known for its nationalist, far-right members, which was used by the Kremlin to justify its military campaign with “anti-fascist” goals.

The group’s controversial reputation lingers, and while it still has some nationalist members, analysts say the unit, now called the Azov regiment, has evolved since it was inducted into the regular combat forces of Ukraine’s military.

Some troops have been at the facility since March 1, Captain Palamar told The Times.

Maria Zolkina, a Ukrainian political scientist working at the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, said the regiment’s leadership made a concerted decision to go public with their requests for evacuation and withdrawal because they felt they had run out of alternatives .

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