A contingent of Ukrainian fighters who doggedly defended a steel mill in Mariupol for weeks “fulfilled its combat mission,” Ukrainian officials said, and efforts were underway Tuesday to evacuate the last of the group.
“The Supreme Military Command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of their personnel,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement. “Mariupol defenders are heroes of our time.”
More than 260 Ukrainian troops were evacuated to areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists. The Kremlin called the exodus a mass surrender. Russian Defense Ministry video shows troops patting down and searching the fighters. Some were on stretchers as they were loaded onto the buses.
Ukraine Minister for the Reintegration Irina Vereshchuk said a prisoner exchange will take place for the more than 50 wounded soldiers, when their condition stabilizes, along with more than 200 other fighters evacuated through a humanitarian corridor. Hundreds of prisoners from both sides have been exchanged since the war began Feb. 24.
An unknown number of troops remained at the Azovstal steel plant that sprawls across 4 square miles. The plant has symbolized Ukraine’s final holdout in the besieged city.
“The work to bring the guys home continues, and it requires delicacy and time,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former actor, has a flair for the dramatic. He demonstrated that trait again Tuesday when he made a video appearance at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in France.
If Zelenskyy’s presence was surprising, his words were powerful, prompting the audience at the Palais des Festivals to give him a standing ovation, according to France24.com.
“Hundreds of people are dying every day. They won’t get up again after the clapping at the end,” Zelenskyy said in the prerecorded message. “Will cinema keep quiet, or will it speak up?”
Zelenskyy alluded to the 1940 film “The Great Dictator,” featuring Charlie Chaplin playing the two leading roles. Released during World War II, the movie satirizes Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“Chaplin’s dictator did not destroy the real dictator, but thanks to cinema, thanks to this film, cinema did not stay quiet,” Zelenskyy said. “We need a new Chaplin to prove today that cinema is not mute.”
The energy security emergency facing Europe and the world because of the war is a moment to rapidly accelerate the transition to clean energy, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday. Yellen, in a prepared speech for the Brussels Economic Forum, called the war a “wake-up call” for energy security and said that “no country controls the wind and the sun.” Europe’s dependence on Russian energy has complicated efforts to sting Moscow with harsh economic sanctions.