For weeks, Ukrainian fighters inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have fought off Russian advances, allowing civilians inside to evacuate during rare breaks in the near-constant bombardment.
On Friday, Russia claimed the final defenders inside had surrendered — placing the sprawling steelworks, and the city, under Russian control. Ukraine has not confirmed this claim, and CNN cannot independently verify the number of Ukrainian forces left inside the plant.
But videos posted online appear to show the remaining fighters walking out of the steelworks — a day after a Ukrainian commander inside issued a video message ordering soldiers to preserve their lives and end their defense of Mariupol.
Those evacuees are now prisoners of war in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic — and some of their families are finally beginning to hear news of their loved ones.
"My husband wrote me two days ago. The situation is really hard and horrible," said Natalia Zarytska, whose husband was among the fighters in Azovstal.
"My husband is on the way from one hell to another hell."
Some context: Mariupol has been under siege for almost three months, with much of the southern port city under Russian occupation since mid-April. The last Ukrainian fighters have been sheltering inside the steelworks since then, alongside up to 1,000 civilians fleeing the fighting. Evacuations for civilians began on May 1.