Ukraine claims its mission at the Mariupol steel plant has been accomplished.

Ukrainian serviceman Anton pets a cat in a basement previously used by Russian soldiers as a temporary base in the village of Malaya Rohan, Kharkiv region, east Ukraine, Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Ukraine claims the mission at the Mariupol steel factory is finished.
According to Ukrainian officials, the regiment that steadfastly guarded a steel plant as Ukraine’s final foothold in the port city of Mariupol finished its duty Monday after more than 260 combatants were evacuated and brought to Russian-controlled territory.

The evacuation to separatist-controlled territory, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was carried out to save the lives of the combatants who had been trapped in the maze of underground corridors beneath the massive Azovstal steelworks for weeks. He stated that the “heavily wounded” were receiving medical assistance.

“Ukraine requires living Ukrainian heroes. He stated, “It’s our principle.” Unknown numbers of fighters remained in the area to await further rescue efforts.

The defenders of the steel plant were able to flee as Moscow suffered yet another diplomatic blow in the conflict, with Sweden joining Finland in opting to join NATO. In the Kharkiv region, Ukraine gained a symbolic victory when Ukrainian forces reportedly forced Russian troops back near the Russian border.

Still, Russian forces hammered targets in the Donbas, eastern Ukraine’s industrial heartland, and the death toll, already in the thousands, continued to rise as the war entered its 12th week on Wednesday.

53 badly wounded fighters were transported from the Azovstal factory to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol, according to Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. A humanitarian corridor was used to transport an additional 211 combatants to Olenivka. She stated that they would work out an exchange when they returned home.

“The defenders of Mariupol have completed all missions assigned by the command,” she stated.

Officials also intended to continue trying to save the remaining fighters. Military specialists estimate that there are between a few hundred and 1,000 fighters at the factory.

“The job of bringing the guys home continues, and it takes time and delicacy,” Zelenskyy added.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced an agreement for the wounded to evacuate the mill for treatment in a town held by pro-Moscow rebels before the evacuations began on Monday. There was no news on whether the wounded would be considered POWs right away.

Several buses and Russian military vehicles moved away from the steel factory around nightfall Monday. Later, Maliar confirmed that the evacuation had occurred.

“Thanks to the Mariupol defenders, Ukraine earned crucial time to organize reserves, reunite forces, and obtain assistance from partners,” she stated. “They also completed all of their tasks. However, military means will not be able to open Azovstal.”

The Ukrainian General Staff recently announced on Facebook that the task of the Mariupol garrison had been fulfilled. In a prepared video message issued Monday, the commander of the Azov Regiment, which commanded the plant’s defense, said the regiment’s duty was complete, with as many lives saved as possible.

“There are no absolutely safe plans or operations during conflict,” Lt. Col. Denis Prokopenko stated, adding that all hazards were taken into account.

In other parts of the Donbas, intense shelling hit the eastern city of Sievierdonetsk, killing at least ten people, according to Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk province. Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko of the Donetsk region reported on Facebook that nine civilians were killed in shelling.

Lviv, in western Ukraine, was jolted by thunderous explosions early Tuesday. At least eight bombs were heard, preceded by distant booms, and the smell of burning was detected later. An Associated Press team in Lviv, which was under an overnight curfew, reported seeing an orange glow in the sky west of the city.

The Russians fired on military facilities in the Yavoriv district, according to the chief of the Lviv Regional Military Administration. The Polish border is less than 10 miles (15 kilometers) from Yavoriv.

In recent days, Russian forces have pulled back from around the northeastern city of Kharkiv, allowing Ukrainian troops to advance. Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to the soldiers who allegedly pushed them all the way to the Russian border in Kharkiv.

Ukrainian soldiers were seen carrying a post that looked like a blue-and-yellow striped border marking. They then set it down on the ground, with a dozen troops around it, including one with a bullet belt hanging over his shoulder.

In a video greeting, Zelenskyy added, “I’m very grateful to you, on behalf of all Ukrainians, on behalf of myself and my family.” “I owe a debt of gratitude to all fighters like you.”

The footage showing the soldiers was taken “in the Kharkiv region,” according to the Ukrainian border service, which declined to clarify for security concerns. It was not able to confirm the exact location right away.

A Russian plan to send sabotage and reconnaissance personnel into the Sumy region, 90 miles (146 kilometers) northwest of Kharkiv, was also foiled, according to Ukrainian border guards.

Russia has suffered numerous failures throughout the war, the most notable of which was its failure to capture Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, early on. The war has shifted to the Donbass, but it has also become a slog, with both sides fighting village by village.

According to a senior US defense official, howitzers from the US and other countries have helped Kyiv hold off or gain territory against Russia. Ukraine has driven Russian soldiers to within a half-mile to 2.5 miles (1 to 4 kilometers) of Russia’s border, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the US military assessment.

Away from the battlefield, Sweden’s decision to join NATO came after Finland’s vote, marking a momentous turn for the two countries, who had previously been nonaligned.

Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, warned that her country will be in a “dangerous position” during the application process and advised her citizens to prepare.

“Russia has stated that if we join NATO, it will take countermeasures,” she warned. “We can’t rule out the possibility that Sweden may be subjected to disinformation and attempts to scare and divide us.”

However, NATO member Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan increased his opposition to their membership. He accused the countries of failing to adopt a “clear” stance against Kurdish militants and other terrorist groups, as well as placing military restrictions on Turkey.

Swedish and Finnish officials expected in Turkey next week, he said, should not bother coming if they want to persuade Turkey to abandon its objection.

“How can we have faith in them?” Erdogan inquired during a joint press conference with Algeria’s visiting president.

To allow the Nordic neighbors to join NATO, all 30 present NATO members must agree.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said that while Moscow “does not have a problem” with Sweden or Finland joining NATO, “the extension of military facilities onto this territory will of course give rise to our retaliation in response.”

Putin launched the invasion on February 24 in an effort to halt NATO’s expansion, but his approach has backfired. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, both countries’ membership processes might be completed quickly.

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