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The commander of a Ukrainian Marine unit made an urgent last-ditch plea for Ukrainian women and children, along with wounded marines, sheltering in the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works to be evacuated to a neutral third country as the Russian deadline to surrender Mariupol loomed Wednesday.
“This is our appeal to the world … we are probably facing our last days, if not hours,” Major Serhiy Volyna, commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade said in a video posted on Facebook, according to a translation posted with the video.
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Russian forces outnumbered Ukrainians 10 to one, Volyna said.
“We are only defending one object, the Azovstal plant, where, in addition to military personnel, there are also civilians who have fallen victim to this war,” the marine commander added. He said there were “more than 500 wounded” at the plant and “hundreds” of civilians sheltering in the building.
Unverified video of women and children said to be bunkers beneath the Azovstal plant in Mariupol has circulated in recent days.
Moscow has given the Ukrainian forces several deadlines to surrender the plant and leave without their weapons. The latest was set to expire at 2 p.m. Moscow time (11 a.m. GMT) on April 20.
“We appeal to all word leaders to help us,” and extract the marines and civilians to a third-party state, Volyna pleaded. He tagged U.S. President Joe Biden, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Facebook post.
The commander previously appealed to Pope Francis to help evacuate civilians from Azovstal.
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The troops have defied previous deadlines Russia imposed, demanding that they either surrender or die.
The Azovstal Iron and Steel Works was once the site of one of the largest metallurgical factories in Europe, but since the onslaught of the war more than 50 days ago it has become a symbol of the city’s resistance.
The plant’s network of underground tunnels has become home to Mariupol residents seeking shelter from the barrage of shelling and a base for several military units.
Despite weeks of intense shelling that has resulted in the death of more than 20,000 Mariupol residents according to Mayor Vadym Boychenko, Russian forces have been unable to take the strategically important city.
An advisor to the Russian-backed separatist forces in the Donetsk region said the Azovstal tunnels were a leading contributor to Russia’s failed attempts to completely besiege the city, claiming that they could withstand “even [a] nuclear strike.”
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Russia launched a full-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine this week, after pivoting from broad-based attacks across the country, including a massive assault on the capital of Kyiv.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.