Many pilots died: Zelensky spoke for the first time about helping fighters at Azovstal

The pilots delivered medicines, food, water to the fighters, took away the bodies, the wounded.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky / photo of the president's office
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky / photo of the president’s office

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time told how Ukrainian pilots tried to fly to Azovstal to help the military.

The head of state spoke about this in an interview on the occasion of the third anniversary of the inauguration as president. This happened in the absence of air corridors to Azovstal, during the work of the powerful air defense of the invaders. 

“Absolutely heroic people (the defenders of Mariupol – ed.). Not forgetting that everyone is there: the National Guard and 400 border guards. Many were injured, died, but 400 were there. Also paratroopers, policemen, even employees of the Security Service of Ukraine, doctors military doctors, ordinary people, local people. There are a large number of heroic people. Therefore, I am now saying that all these people are absolutely heroic. How it happened, what happened here is one question. They defended Mariupol,” Zelensky said.

During the defense of Mariupol, many Ukrainian pilots died.

“A very large number of people died – our pilots. Unfortunately, they died. Also absolutely heroic people who knew that it was difficult. They knew that it was almost impossible to fly. Fly to Azovstal and bring them medicines, food, water, pick up the bodies “, the wounded. All this happened. Many things happened that no one could officially comment on. Why? Because there were no air corridors to Azovstal because of their powerful air defense,” the president said.

He stressed that Ukraine “not just” called on the world to help close the sky over its territory.  

“It’s not just all these talks. It’s not that we are afraid of planes, although they are dangerous. But we saw that they (the occupiers – ed.) were also afraid to fly because they lost. The question was not only Aircraft. The question was in their air defense, in their missiles, in many ways. Therefore, you can’t just go to Mariupol. You just can’t. There are helicopter pilots there for a large number of weeks, knowing that 90% of them do not return. Imagine that these people did it. They flew there. We lost a lot of pilots,” Zelensky stressed.

On May 17, the Ministry of Defense announced the start of an operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol blocked on the territory of the plant.

According to the MOU, on May 16, 53 seriously wounded were evacuated from Azovstal to a medical facility in Novoazovsk.

Another 211 people were taken to Olenevka through the humanitarian corridor. To return them home, an exchange procedure will be carried out.

On May 18, Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the President’s Office, said that the process of evacuating the defenders of Azovstal continues and is complicated.

Today, May 20, the commander of the Azov regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Denis Prokopenko, in a video message, expressed the hope that the  dead heroes from Azovstal would be buried  with honors in the near future.

(C)UNIAN 2022

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