Ukrainian Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, who is hunkered down inside Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steel plant, tells CNN that he believes all civilians sheltering inside the plant are now out — with the caveat that due to the constant bombardment, it is difficult to make a full assessment of the situation across the massive facility.
Palamar, the deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov regiment, made the comments to CNN's Erin Burnett on Wednesday.
“If you're talking about the Azovstal plant itself, then the civilians that we knew about, the civilians that we had with us, the civilians that we were taking care of, they are not with us. They managed to leave the plant. And as far as the – I cannot tell you for sure, maybe there’s someone else further down in the territory because no international organization at any point came or had access to come and assess the situation," he told CNN.
Palamar added that a ceasefire was needed so that an international NGO could enter the steel plant to properly assess the situation, because the current siege did not allow for a proper assessment of current conditions.
“Basically what needs to be done is [that] a ceasefire is called upon so that some international organization can come and assess the situation, because under this constant bombardment, we are not able to go around and check anything,” Palamar said.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s President Voldomyr Zelensky said in his nightly addressed that “phase one” of the Azovstal evacuations was over and that essentially all civilians —meaning women, children and elderly — had exited the plant.
The president said “phase two” would involve the exodus of the wounded and medics, as well as military still inside the plant.