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Evacuation of Azovstal defenders in Mariupol begins (photo, video)

The Supreme Command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced In the early hours of Tuesday, May 17.

"The evacuation of 53 seriously wounded servicemen has begun. They were taken to a medical facility in Novoazovsk. Another 211 defenders were evacuated through the humanitarian corridor to Olenivka (these settlements are located on the territory of the DPR — The Page) with their subsequent return to the territory controlled by Ukraine through the swap procedure. Rescue efforts continue," the report reads.

"The defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time. They will go down in history forever. This is a separate special forces unit Azov, the 12th brigade of the National Guard, the 36th separate marine brigade, border guards, policemen, volunteers, the territorial defense forces of Mariupol," the General Staff stressed.

The most important common task for all of Ukraine and the whole world is to save the lives of the defenders of Mariupol, the report reads.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a nightly video address: "Thanks to the actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, intelligence, the negotiating group, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN, we hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys... I want to emphasize: Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle."

The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on the morning of May 17 reported that for the prompt return of the defenders of Mariupol evacuated on Monday evening, a swap procedure would be carried out, all necessary measures were being taken to save the people who remained at Azovstal.

Russian Telegram channels report that 2,227 people still remain at Azovstal.

The Russian side has not yet said anything about the swap. The Ukrainian military is called prisoners there, and what happened is called surrender.

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