Fighters share desperate videos from Mariupol Steel Plant to promote the story

Since April 18, Azov has released several videos focusing on civilians who say they are trapped at the facility, and which mainly show women and children. “I want everyone who sees this video to help us create this green corridor, to help us get out of here,” said a mother who held her toddler in a video released on April 24, when Ukraine celebrated Orthodox Easter. “Sure. Alive. The civilians and the soldiers.”

While Azov is a party to the conflict, The Times has previously verified footage released by the group. In the recently shared videos, Azov soldiers hand out treats to children and talk to adults. The relationship between the soldiers and the persons appearing in the camera and the circumstances under which these images were taken are unclear.

Graphic images shared on April 26 on social media accounts related to the regiment showed wounded people lying on stretchers on a concrete floor in what is said to be a field hospital in the steelworks.

Two days later, Azov uploaded a video to his social media channels of what it said were the aftermath of Russian strikes at a field hospital inside Azov’s stable. The footage showed about two dozen people, some of them wearing plaster and bandages, sitting inside a dark, hazy room. A man with a headlight is seen digging through rubble. Another holds a plastic bottle in his shaking hand and sobs.

“The attack was carried out in the area, which contains the severely wounded,” Mikhail Vershinin, head of Donetsk’s regional patrol police, said in a voice memo from the factory. “People are buried under rubble, some are dead. There are wounded – wounded on top of the wounds they already had.”

The Azov Regiment was originally set up in May 2014 as the Azov Battalion, named after the watershed where Mariupol and its now ruined port are located, to defend the city when it was attacked by pro-Moscow forces. At the time, it was known for its nationalist, right-wing extremist members, who have been used by the Kremlin to justify its military campaign as having “anti-fascist” goals.

The group’s controversial reputation is holding on, and although it still has some nationalist members, analysts say the unit, now called the Azov Regiment, has evolved since it was incorporated into the regular forces of the Ukrainian military.

Some troops have been inside the factory since March 1, Captain Palamar told The Times.

Maria Zolkina, a Ukrainian political analyst working at the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, said the regiment’s leadership made a joint decision to publish their prayers for evacuation and withdrawal because they felt they had run out of alternatives.

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