The situation inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is “beyond a humanitarian catastrophe,” a Ukrainian commander inside the facility told CNN.
Maj. Serhiy Volyna, commander of Ukraine’s 36th Separate Marine Brigade, spoke to CNN on Friday from inside the steel works, explaining that there are hundreds of people inside the plant, including 60 young people, the youngest of which is four months old.
The Azovstal plant has become the last vestige of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, with it holding out against Russian invasion for almost two months.
The pocket of entrenched Ukrainian fighters and civilians sheltering at the plant has become a symbol of the country's defiance.
Volyna explained that because of a recent Russian strike against the plant’s field hospital, they have been left without vital medical equipment, while also revealing that they “have very little water, very little food left.”
“The operating theatre was hit directly. And all the operating equipment, everything that is necessary to perform surgery has been destroyed so right now, we cannot treat our wounded, especially those with shrapnel wounds and with bullet wounds,” he said.
Volyna added: “We are looking after the wounded right now with whatever tools we have. We have our army medics and they’re using every skill they have to look after the wounded. And right now, we don’t have any surgical tools but we have some basics. But also, we are in dire need of medication. We have almost no medication left.”
According to a statement from the Ukrainian president's office on Friday, an operation to evacuate civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is planned for Friday. The statement gave no further details.
When asked about a possible evacuation plan, Volyna said he didn’t “know the details.”
“I know that the mission has arrived in Zaporizhzhia and that they are going to try and mount a rescue operation.”
Volyna said that he is in direct communication with President Volodymyr Zelensky, adding that the Ukrainian leader was briefing them "on the situation in Ukraine as a whole and around Mariupol,” as well as “keeping our spirits high.”
A Ukrainian official said on Friday that Russian forces have closed off an area in Mariupol, potentially ahead of another attempt to storm the Azovstal steel plant.
And Volyna isn’t sure how long he and his fellow Ukrainian’s can resist Russia’s attacks for.
“We cannot tell you for sure how long we can hold on for,” he said. “That all depends on the enemy movements and also on luck. We have great hopes that we will be evacuated, that the president will succeed in either evacuating or extracting us and we’ll just have to hope and see if that happens.”
Watch the interview: