Ukraine war: Russia agrees to evacuate wounded soldiers from Azovstal plant

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Kyiv has said that more than 1,000 of its troops – a majority of them injured – remained in the Azovstal plant.

Russia on Monday said there was an agreement to evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. “An agreement has been reached on the removal of the wounded,” news agency Reuters quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying in a statement.

“A humanitarian corridor has been opened through which wounded Ukrainian servicemen are being taken to a medical facility in Novoazovsk,” it added.

Russia attacked the port city of Mariupol – which it now claims to controls – for nearly two months. Some civilians and Ukrainian fighters had sought refuge in the Azovstal plant, a vast Soviet-era plant designed with a labyrinth of bunkers and tunnels to withstand attack.

While civilians were evacuated from the plant this month after the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross brokered a deal with Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian fighters remain trapped. According to reports and pictures posted online, some of the fighters at the plant are seriously injured.

Kyiv has said that more than 1,000 of its troops –  a majority of them injured – remained in the Azovstal plant.

Earlier, a commander in the war-torn nation had written to Elon Musk, whose company’s satellite broadband service Stalink had remained active in Ukraine since the Russian invasion, urging him to intervene.

Serhiy Volyna, who said he created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of reaching out to Musk, had written, “People say you come from another planet to teach people to believe in the impossible”.

“Our planets are next to each other, as I live where it is nearly impossible to survive. Help us get out of Azovstal to a mediating country. If not you, then who?”