Ukraine war: Heartbroken wives and mothers from Azovstal garrison say heroic battle is almost over | World news

The wives and mothers of Ukraine’s besieged Azovstal garrison say their heroic battle is almost over.

A small force of Ukrainians has held out against the Russians for 80 days in the vast Azovstal steelworks, but is now, it seems, close to the end.

“My husband is in a real hell,” Natalya Zarytska told Sky News. “He has lost more than 20 kilos. He looks very bad and is in a terrible condition.”

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She married Bohdan in April online while the siege continued.

“I think this is the end,” she said.

“This is his last picture. Here his face is yellow, he has lost much more than 20 kilos.”

She told about the last time she had contact with him a week ago.

“He said the ring around Azovstal is getting thinner and that the end will soon be.”

Asked if she thinks she will see him again, she replied: “Yes, I hope so. In my mind I think there is no chance, but in my heart I feel we can save them. “

Picture:
Wives of Ukrainian Azov soldiers currently trapped inside the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol are taking part in the weekly General Audience held by Pope Francis at the Vatican

Other important developments:
• President Zelenskyy says talks with Russia to get wounded defenders out of the Azovstal factory in Mariupol were “very complex”
• Russian fighter jets have participated in Baltic exercises, Interfax reported
• Russia says it will take appropriate action if NATO deployes nuclear forces and infrastructure close to its border
• Ukraine is storing hundreds of dead Russian soldiers in a refrigerated train to send them back to their families
• American think tank believes that Russia has lost the battle for Ukraine’s second largest city

Yulia Tarasenko showed a picture of her husband Oleksandr in better times.

They met in 2016 at a checkpoint, both served in the border guard and have a three-year-old son.

Her eyes watered with tears as she spoke of her desperation to see him again.

“Like any woman would, I cry, I miss him so much,” she said. “It’s a big tragedy for me and for my family. We have a great relationship with us, it’s such a long time apart. He always wrote to me, ‘Honey, I have to come back to be with you.’ “

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Ukraine war: Azov Battalion fighter says every day in Mariupol ‘may be our last’

‘He knows I’m waiting for him’

The wives and mothers gathered in Kiev to appeal through the press to world leaders to intervene and extract the warriors. In particular, they urged China’s Xi Jinping to take the lead.

Among them, Svetlana gave only his first name. Her son is in Azovstal. Against all odds, she told me she’s saying she wants to see him again.

She said, “Of course. I’ll see him. He’s my son and he’s coming back. He knows I’m waiting for him. Of course, no doubt. I’m not in doubt.”

But the chances of any Ukrainian fighter jets popping up from the steelworks look less and less.

Ukraine
Picture:
The Ukrainians have used the huge labyrinthine complex to escape capture

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Russia has so far rejected all efforts to negotiate safe passage and a way out. Vladimir Putin told his defense minister that not even a fly should be allowed to escape the steelworks.

Turkey has offered to receive the fighters if they can get safe passage, but its efforts have been rejected by Moscow.

The siege of Azovstal has prevented Russia from claiming complete control of Mariupol. Without it, it has not been able to take a single major Ukrainian city by force.

The Ukrainians have used the huge labyrinthine complex to escape capture and defeat despite being outnumbered.

They have endured longer than many had expected, but their girlfriend’s desperation is a sign that their extraordinary struggle is about to end.

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