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Harrowing photos offer rare glimpse of wounded soldiers in besieged Mariupol steel plant
Danielle Campoamor – May 10, 2022
Warning: The following contains graphic images.
Photos of badly wounded Ukrainian soldiers trapped in a steel plant in Mariupol give a rare look at the conditions of those fighting Russia’s ongoing attempts to take control of the city.
Lt. Ilya Samoilenko, a 27-year-old staff officer for the elite Ukrainian Azov Regiment, has been trapped in the Azovstal steel plant in besieged Mariupol for more than 70 days.
Samoilenko shared photos with TODAY Parents to put a spotlight on his injured comrades and the doctors trying to keep them alive inside the steel plant’s basement.
“I’m OK, relatively,” Samoilenko told TODAY Parents via the Telegram messaging app. “Hungry, but not starving. Water is not enough. Health … well, I did not lose any more limbs than before.”
Samoilenko said he lost his left arm and right eye four years ago. “It’s a long story, from a previous life,” he explained. He said he also has some shrapnel in his leg.
“I’m still in a fight,” he added. “And there are hundreds of guys like me. We’re standing tall on missing legs. We hold weapons in lost arms. We are in a fight, and we are going to fight until the end.”
With limited access to food, water, medication and equipment, doctors have been treating severed limbs, head wounds, severe lacerations, gunshot wounds and broken bones inside the steel plant. Samoilenko described the doctors as “living heroes” and “legends.”
“Ninety percent of our servicemen are wounded,” Samoilenko said. “A lot of people recovered from lighter injuries, and they are back in the fight. Through pain, through struggle, well, you know, you have no choice. When you must fight, you’re rising up — with pain, with physical damage, but you are fighting.”
There are at least 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers still fighting in the port city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s attacks in the east of Ukraine have increased. At least 60 people were feared dead after a Russian airstrike on a school in eastern Ukraine on Saturday afternoon.
Russian forces also have increased their attacks on Odesa, another key port city located on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. On Monday, Russian missiles hit a shopping center and a warehouse, killing one person and injuring five more.
Zelenskyy also has described the situation in Mariupol as “extremely severe.”
The soldiers of the Azov Regiment demanded the “immediate evacuation of wounded servicemen in Ukrainian-controlled territories” so they could be “assisted and provided with proper care.”
“The servicemen you see in the photos and hundreds more at the Azovstal plant defended Ukraine and the entire civilized world, with serious injuries at the cost of their own health,” said a Telegram post made by a member of the Azov Regiment.
“Are Ukraine and the world community now unable to protect and take care of them?”