ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine - Ukrainian forces are still in full control of the Azovstal steel plant in the war-torn port city of Mariupol and have repelled continuous assaults by Russian infantry even while weathering steadily intensifying air and artillery attacks, commander of one of the Ukrainian units defending the plant said in an interview on Sunday.
If Ukrainian forces are given guarantees of safe passage for themselves and hundreds of civilians, they are willing to leave the factory and evacuate the city, said Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, who was the deputy commander of the Azov Battalion, whose fighters have been holed up at the plant since March 1.
Captain Palamar said we are prepared to leave the city because there is nothing left to defend. We consider that we have fulfilled our mission. We will continue to defend it until there is an order to retreat from our military leadership. If we are going to leave, we are going to leave with our weapons. Despite an order by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to halt the assault on the Azovstal factory and blockade it, fighting has continued, even as preparations are underway for a major offensive in eastern Ukraine.