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We have shown that nothing is impossible

An interview with “Kalina”, a deputy commander of the Azov Regiment.

May 16, 2022 - Svyatoslav Palamar TV24.UA - InterviewsUkraineAtWar

Azovstal in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: Chris Nagle flickr.com

The Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol have been fighting the Russian invaders in the city since the first day of the war. They were called cyborgs, a symbol of invincibility and heroism of Ukraine. Every day, Russian troops cynically and brutally shell the Azovstal plant, where the fighters remain. They do not have enough weapons, food or medicine. However, Ukrainian TV 24 managed to talk to the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, Captain Svyatoslav Palamar – Kalina – and shared their interview with New Eastern Europe. The interview was conducted on May 8th 2022.

TV24.UA: What is the current situation at Azovstal?

KALINA: As of now, there is no ceasefire. During the night there were at least 25 bomber raids in three waves – strategic bombers over our territory. According to our positions, artillery and infantry are firing at the fighters, and we have noted incoming sniper fire and mortar fire coming. Basically, nothing has changed for the third month. The war continues, the guys sacrifice their lives for Ukraine and fulfil their duty to the state, to the Ukrainian people.

As for the evacuation of civilians, indeed, it took place. Hundreds of civilians were evacuated from Azovstal. The day before yesterday (May 6th), three fighters were killed and six were injured during the so-called ceasefire. One serviceman was killed when he was hit by a missile in an evacuation vehicle following civilians, which was supposed to take them to an agreed location, and six others were injured. Two more servicemen were killed when bombs were dropped from UAVs. Also during the ceasefire. The evacuation of civilians cost the lives of three of our servicemen.

Are we happy that we managed to evacuate civilians? It is definitely good, but it is joy through tears. No car entered the plant, no international organisation – Neither the United Nations or the Red Cross – entered the plant. None of the negotiating politicians came to the territory of Azovstal. No evacuation vehicle arrived on the territory of Azovstal. No international mission has worked under the blockages in Mariupol.

We do not know how many tens of thousands of civilians have died in the city. And we are very sorry that the evacuation took place so late.

I think this is primarily the merit of our military: we managed to raise this noise, this cry to the whole world. Merit of journalists that managed to draw attention to Mariupol. And, of course, the authorities, who were able to negotiate the evacuation. It is a pity that it is so late. And it is too bad that those who say so loudly: “Hurray, we have taken out all civilians” do not speak for some reason about the lives of the servicemen who died for this evacuation of civilians.

And can we say that all civilians were taken away? I do not know. I am not sure … The bodies of the dead must be removed from the rubble.

During the evacuation, our military takes civilians out of the plant, right?

Yes. Our negotiating team together with the negotiating team of the other side meet and hand over our citizens. They board buses directly and leave the city in the specified direction.

Does the evacuation of all civilians from Azovstal mean that hell may begin for the fighters? Has the shelling intensified?

There are attempts to storm, shelling continues, there are aircraft above; let’s see what happens tomorrow…

In what condition are the wounded soldiers? How many in total?

About 600 servicemen need qualified medical care. The situation is difficult, critical. There is not enough medicine. There are no surgical instruments. I will say this – the soldiers are dying.

On May 7th, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine would do everything possible and impossible to save all our defenders from Azovstal. In particular, the second stage of the evacuation mission is currently being prepared – for the wounded and the medics. This is an extremely difficult task, but everyone understands its importance.

We do not know yet whether an agreement on the evacuation of wounded soldiers will be the second stage. Let’s see. The commander of the unit (Denis Prokopenko with the call sign “Radish”) is doing this, he insists. Because it is very important, this is the life of our defenders. They have made a tremendous contribution to the current situation at the front, with the emergence of new weapons at the front. The fact that Ukraine has withstood and continues to struggle; this is the merit of our guys.

In fact, I very much hope that the second stage, which Zelenskyy spoke about, will take place as soon as possible. Have negotiations already begun and when can an evacuation be planned?

I will say this – the commander is doing it. And he is not only negotiating, so to speak, with our government directly on the evacuation of the wounded. He has also negotiated the evacuation of civilians. He directly organised the whole process on the territory of the plant. But he is also in command of the defence. We are very grateful to him for that, of course.

How do you see the possibility of evacuation for all the military now? I understand that evacuating you – the defenders – would be the third stage?

In fact, I believe that our military deserves to be evacuated. I believe that a country for which the military garrisons in Mariupol have made a great contribution should make a great contribution to these military. I think we need to convene the UN, take the Secretary General, guarantee a real ceasefire. Real, not in words. Control the ceasefire. Guarantee the removal of our wounded.

I believe that the so-called extraction procedure should take place. This is an unprecedented situation in the world, when the military, without proper support, has been holding such a defence for three months and has done so much. We deserve to take the bodies of our dead, take out the wounded and save the lives of our servicemen. This is possible logistically, by sea, through the land corridor. To the territory of Ukraine or to the territory of a third country with a chance to return to Ukraine. It is possible. There is nothing impossible. We have shown that nothing is impossible.

You know, when we are told, “Guys, hold on until March,” we stick to March. Then we are told: “Hold on until the beginning of April and then something will happen, they will come for you.” Nobody comes. Then they say that in late April. And also nothing. Then they say: “Well, hold out until May, and everything will be great, we will help you.”

But at this time we are alone with planes above us; we are alone with tanks in front of us; we are alone with artillery shelling us. And all this time this cohort of people is doing impossible things.

Captain Svyatoslav Palamar “Kalina” is the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment

This interview which has been slightly condensed was conducted by and first appeared on Ukrainian 24tv.ua. You can read the full version in its original here.

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