The commander of the Azov Regiment, Lt. Col. Denis Prokopenko, has issued a short video message from inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
Prokopenko said that the top military leadership had “issued an order to preserve the garrison soldiers’ life and health and stop defending the city.”
The message implies that those remaining at Azovstal are planning to leave the plant in the near future. There are thought to be several hundred fighters left inside the sprawling complex.
Azovstal was the last holdout in otherwise Russian-occupied Mariupol and became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance under relentless Russian bombardment.
Prokopenko added: “Despite heavy fighting … and lack of supplies, we constantly emphasized the three most important conditions for us: civilians, wounded, and dead. Civilians were evacuated.
The seriously wounded received the necessary assistance; they were evacuated with further exchange and delivery [planned] to the territory controlled by Ukraine.”
The injured have been taken to a hospital in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.
“As for the fallen heroes, the process is ongoing. But I hope that in the near future, families and all of Ukraine will be able to bury their soldiers with honors.”
Some background: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday that almost 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the Azovstal plant.
In remarks carried by Russian state media, Shoigu said: “The blocking of the Azovstal plant continues … Nationalists are actively surrendering to captivity. At the moment, 1,908 people laid down their arms.”
CNN cannot independently verify these figures.