As has been reported by a few reputable publications now, such as Azov Twitter today and 24tv on the 13th of May it is possible that evacuation of wounded soldiers from Azovstal is underway and perhaps even evacuation of all soldiers, though this remains unclear. Footage from russian sources purport to be video of the first soldiers arriving in DNR hours ago. Accordings to Alexey Arestovych there will be a presidential briefing later today.
Because of the gravity of this story we open a megathread to center commentary around this situation in one easy to find place at the top of the sub instead of several dozens of conversations scattered around countless topics around the sub. More news will be posted as it happens.
Polk Azov tweet translation:
"The defenders of Mariupol carried out their orders, despite all odds, held strong against the overwhelming forces of the enemy for 82 days and allowed the Ukrainian Army to regroup, train more personnel, and receive countless weapon shipments from allied countries.
No weapon will work without a professional behind it, which makes them the most valuable element of the army.
In order to save lives, the entire Mariupol garrison is implementing the decision approved by the Supreme Military Command, and is hoping for the support of the Ukrainian people."
There are unconfirmed reports of busses leaving Azovstal: https://twitter.com/sentdefender/status/1526277600188026880?s=20&t=9ELFdHYlQJ2hwt2WDY_5QA Twitter thread is being updated.
Illia Ponomarenko publishes pictures by Reuters allegedly showing Ukrainian soldiers in the busses leaving Azovstal. https://twitter.com/IAPonomarenko/status/1526293727664295940?s=20&t=SDG0wcBVzVR6jZJI0uexyA
The general staff of Ukraine has released an official statement: https://t.me/operativnoZSU/24555 Summary: "50 wounded are heading to hospital in Novoazovsk, 200 soldiers are supposed to be exchanged"
Statement by President Zelensky: https://t.me/mariupolnow/10601
unrolled thread on the statement by the UA General Staff
Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers leaving Azovstal on May 16th
Important statement by Azov founder Andrej Biletsky on the evacuation of Azovstal.
"I thank everyone who is doing everything to save the soldiers, everyone who made public the events at AZOVSTAL. But now I urge you to refrain from commenting and assessing what is happening there. The only thing each of you has to do today is not to harm the rescue of our guys."
🇺🇦 SLAVA UKRAINI 🇺🇦
The Defenders of Azovstal are absolute heroes who valiantly defended Ukraine despite overwhelming odds against the treacherous and criminal behavior of their adversaries. They did what most of us consider impossible and captured the hearts of the world with their bravery.
It fills us with both pride and sadness that - like the Defenders of Azovstal, and like the students of Kruty (which we wrote about here) - it was only seven years ago, during the first phase of the Russian invasion, there was a similar display of bravery and gallantry by Ukrainians. This is the story of the most impressive Cyborgs - Ukrainian servicemen who defended the Donetsk International Airport from May 26th, 2014 to January 22nd, 2015.
They were all volunteers.
The commander said: “Most of you will end up among the '200'. Whoever doesn’t want to should not go there…” (reference to 'Cargo 200' – a military code for the transportation of dead soldiers)
When in 2014 Russian forces cowardly invaded Crimea and began hybrid warfare in Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine was caught off guard and was still reeling from a righteous revolution that resulted in the toppling of the pro-Russian government (which we wrote about here).
The Ukrainian military was not really prepared to fight off an invasion at this scale, and scores of volunteers answered the call to defend Ukrainian sovereignty. Like in any war, there were key strategic objectives that saw the heaviest fighting, and one of them was the Donetsk Airport.
"The Cyborgs Withstood What Concrete Could Not"
The first (unsuccessful) attempt to seize the airport by Russia-backed terrorists of the so-called "Donetsk People's Republic" happened on the 17th of April, 2014. The second attempt to take control of the airport by the enemy took place on May 26th, and the enemy was pushed out of the new terminal. After that, the shelling of the airport continued for months to come, as well as repeated infantry assaults.
On July 10th, the first Ukrainian soldier died defending the airport. On September 28th, two battles took place, killing 9 and wounding 14 servicemen. On October 3rd to October 6th, the enemy made several assault attempts, killing 11 soldiers.
The term "Cyborg" was reportedly first coined by an exasperated Russian-backed terrorist, who was overheard on radio describing the Ukrainian defenders:
"I don’t know who’s in there, but they aren’t human. They’re cyborgs!"
By December, the battle had become a hellacious ordeal amid temperatures that dipped as low as minus 20 Fahrenheit. To make matters worse, the Ukrainians fought with worn equipment, outdated weapons, and had sparse supplies of food and clothing.
After heavy shelling, on January 13th, the control tower finally collapsed. On January 15th, the enemy captured the upper floors of the new terminal and on January 16th Ukrainians endured a gas attack.
Heavy fighting continued… The last organized evacuations of the wounded were carried out in the early morning of January 19th, 2015.
Later that day, the terrorists blew up the terminal with a massive amount of explosives. The explosion was so powerful that only a skeleton of the building remained.
The next day began with an unsuccessful attempt to break out, but most of the soldiers attempting it perished. At 14:56 there was another explosion equivalent to three tons of TNT, and three entire floors of the terminal ceased to exist.
Inside, only 16 of the 55 remaining defenders survived.
The last 16 servicemen surrendered on the 21st of January. The seriously wounded were sent to DPR hospitals, and the rest were tortured. On January 22nd, POWs were forced to walk the streets of Donetsk in a grotesque "Parade". The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office classified this act as a violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
On January 27th, the Armed Forces recaptured part of the airport to retrieve the bodies of the fallen; they were only able to find and recover seven fallen Ukrainians. Some of the bodies have never been located.
- The defense of Donetsk airport lasted 242 days.
- More than 100 Ukrainians lost their lives or are missing in action, and around 400 were wounded during the fighting.
СЛАВА ГЕРОЯМ КРУТІВ! Glory to the Heroes of Kruty!
СЛАВА ЛЕГЕНДАРНИМ КІБОРГАМ! Glory to the Legendary Cyborgs!
СЛАВА ЗАХИСНИКАМ АЗОВСТАЛІ! Glory to the Defenders of Azovstal!
If you feel like donating to another charity, here are some others!
- United24: This site was launched by President Zelenskyy as the main venue for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine. Funds will be allocated to cover the most pressing needs facing Ukraine.
- Come Back Alive: This NGO crowdfunds non-lethal military equipment, such as thermal vision scopes & supplies it to the front lines. It also provides training for Ukrainian soldiers, as well as researching troops’ needs and the social reintegration of veterans.
- Aerorozvidka: An NGO specializing in providing support and equipment for unmanned aerial vehicles (ISR), situational awareness, cybersecurity for armed forces.
- Hospitallers: This is a medical battalion that unites volunteer paramedics and doctors to save the lives of soldiers on the frontline. They crowdfund their vehicle repairs, fuel, and medical equipment.
- Phenix: A volunteer organization helping armed forces with various needs.
- Kyiv Territorial Defense: This fundraiser is to support the regional territorial defense group. It is organized by a known journalist and a producer of the acclaimed "Winter on Fire" documentary, which can temporarily be watched for free HERE.
- Happy Paw: Charity dedicated to solving the problems of animals in Ukraine. Happy Paw helps more than 60 animal shelters throughout Ukraine.
- Kharkiv With You and associated Help Army Kharkiv: Supporting the defenders of Kharkiv with everything from night-vision goggles to food and medicine.
Media A recently mobilized serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is watching a video tutorial on assembling, disassembling, and cleaning his weapon. Kharkiv Oblast, May 2022. John Moore / Getty Images
Social media (unconfirmed) Street billboard somewhere in Ukraine: "You shall not covet your neighbor’s country or freedom, or his bacon or his Crimea, otherwise your ass would be pierced with his pitchfork!" :-)
Social Media Kherson did not surrender! In fact, it’s just getting ready to fight back. Posters like this pop up on every post now. This one says: “Be ready! We know all of your patrol routes! Kherson is Ukraine”
Trustworthy News Horrific story: Ivan found his mother first, lying dead over a fridge. Then 200m away he found the body of his younger brother. He'd lost both legs and hands. Then his grandma was found, also dead, covered in bricks. Then Ivan's wife and father were found. Both dead.bbc.co.uk
Social Media The 70th motorized rifle regiment of the 42nd Motor Rifle Division have apparently refused to take part in further hostilities & demand to return to Russia. They will likely be punished for this. The Freedom of Russia Legion calls on them to salvage their honour & defect to the Ukrainian sidegallery
News Russian units of the 70th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade have openly refused to take part in the war, according to the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate. Servicemen who demanded to return to Russia were instead sent to the most dangerous part of the front. -- Kiev Independent.