Home PoliticsPolitical News ‘Please don’t let them die’: wives of Mariupol defenders tell the Pope – National

‘Please don’t let them die’: wives of Mariupol defenders tell the Pope – National

by YAR

The wives of two Ukrainian soldiers defending the Mariupol steel plant met Pope Francis on Wednesday, begging him to intervene to organize a third-party evacuation of the troops before they are captured or killed by Russian soldiers.

“You are our last hope. We hope you can save their lives. Please don’t let them die,” Kateryna Prokopenko said through tears as she greeted Francis at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

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Standing next to him, Yuliia Fedusiuk, told Francisco that food and water were running out at the mill, that some soldiers were wounded or dead, and that those who were alive were ready to lay down their arms if they could be evacuated to a third country. .

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“They will not go into Russian captivity because they will be tortured and killed,” Fedusiuk told Francis, according to a video of the encounter filmed by another member of his entourage, Pyotr Verzilov, a leading member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot who is working on a documentary. about Ukraine.

Prokopenko’s husband, Denys Prokopenko, is the commander of the Azov Regiment at the Azovstal factory, while Fedusiuk’s husband, Arseniy Fedusiuk, is one of the Azov fighters who has been defending the factory from invading Russian forces. for more than two months.

Click to play video: 'Ongoing Humanitarian Efforts in Ukraine'

Ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

Ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

The girls have been in Italy for more than two weeks seeking to rally international support for a diplomatic resolution to the standoff at the plant, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the strategic port city.

Francis, who has been affected by a knee problem that makes walking and standing painful, stood up to greet the women, a gesture he did not extend to others who lined up to see him on Wednesday at end of hearing. He held their hands as they cried, blessed them and said that he had discussed the soldiers’ plight with Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, whom he sent to Ukraine.

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Verzilov told Francis that time was running out for the troops at the Azovstal mill.

“We believe that if some emergency intervention does not happen in the next few days, it will end in a great tragedy,” Verzilov told The Associated Press afterward. He said that Francis said that he was aware of the confrontation. “He understands how tragic it is and he will do what he can.”

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have organized a series of civilian evacuations from the plant, which had housed hundreds of people in its maze of underground tunnels and bunkers. But the soldiers, and apparently some of their relatives, have been left behind.

Click to play video: 'Families gather in kyiv after war evacuations from Ukraine'

Families gather in kyiv after evacuations due to the Ukraine war

Families gather in kyiv after evacuations due to the Ukraine war

Verzilov, the Russian activist and editor of the independent news site Mediazona, said Turkey has been trying to find a solution to the standoff, but none has been found.

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“Our soldiers are ready to be evacuated to a third country. They are ready to lay down their arms in case of evacuation to a third country,” Propkopenko told reporters after the brief meeting. “We are all ready to help them, I hope.”

Fedusiuk said her husband had recently asked her to research how to survive without water.

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“The water is running out. They have no food, no water, no medicine,” she said. “They are dying every day. Every day one or two wounded soldiers die.”

She said she understood that some civilians, who were relatives of the soldiers, remained at the mill because they feared they would be identified in the Russian-run “filtration camps” along the evacuation route and not be allowed to enter the territory. ukrainian

Trisha Thomas contributed to this report.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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