Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar says that the Ukrainian authorities have taken all steps to ensure the release of Azovstal defenders in the city of Mariupol and that world leaders are engaged in the process. However, noting that “Putin is simply refusing to release our Azovstal defenders.”
Almost 98 percent of Mariupl has been destroyed by Russian troops since the beginning of hostilities in late February.
The Azovstal plan is the only stronghold in the city.
The Ukrainian military and political leadership met with relatives of Mariupol defenders on Sunday to share details of efforts to save them.
“Yes, indeed, we had an open and very warm conversation, a meeting with the families of our Azovstal defenders, '' Maliar said.
She stated that Azovstal was currently being defended by various units of the Defence Forces: soldiers of the National Guard, the Armed Forces, the National Police, and border guards.
“What is the importance of this meeting? The State is doing a lot to effect the release of our Azovstal defenders, but this is a military operation, and these things cannot be said in public. Instead, we were able to convey this and tell their relatives openly, because they have the right to know about that. And most of the questions - I hope very much - have been removed. Because the proposals that are very often heard in society - in fact, all this has already been done. Putin is simply refusing to release our Azovstal defenders,” Maliar suggested.
The Azovstal defenders are reported to even not having drinking water.