(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said on Friday that talks with Russia over the evacuation of wounded soldiers still from the Azovstal Mariupol metal plant were very complex, adding that Kyiv was using influential intermediaries.
Ukraine, which says there is no military solution to the impasse, has announced the evacuation of 38 of the most seriously injured soldiers. If Moscow allows them out, Kyiv says it will release a number of Russian POWs.
“At the moment, very complex negotiations are taking place on the next phase of the evacuation mission – the evacuation of seriously injured, medics. We are talking about a large number of people,” Volodimir Zelensky said in a statement. speech to be delivered late Friday.
“Of course, we are doing everything to evacuate all the others, each of our defenders. We have already involved all the people in the world who could be the most influential intermediaries,” he added, without giving details.
Russia, which initially insisted that the soldiers surrender, has said little publicly about the talks.
Many of those still in the factory are members of the Azov regiment. Deputy Commander Sviatoslav Palamar said on Friday that his forces would continue to resist as long as they could.
“We have a problem with ammunition, food, water, medicine,” he said in an online forum broadcast on YouTube.
“Our enemy continues to attack. They continue their assault on our positions but we continue to push them back,” he added, calling on the United States to help evacuate the wounded fighters.
Earlier on Friday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said the outcome of the negotiations “may not (would) please everyone, but our job is to evacuate our soldiers. All our soldiers. Alive.”
(Report David Ljunggren Ottawa and Bogdan Kochubey Lviv; French version Camille Raynaud)