Ukrainian trapped in Azovstal begs Elon Musk for help: ‘If not you, then who?’

The head of a Ukrainian naval brigade is appealing to tech mogul Elon Musk to help soldiers escape from a steel mill besieged by Russian forces.

Major Serhiy Volyna, acting commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, appealed to the world’s richest man via Twitter on Wednesday. Volyna is among Ukrainian forces entrenched in the Azov Valley, the last stronghold against Russian forces in the southern port city of Mariupol. Volyna’s plea comes as Ukrainian officials seek a deal with Russia to remove their wounded soldiers.

@elonmusk People say you come from another planet to teach people to believe in the impossible,” Volyna wrote in his tweet. “Our planets are next to each other while I live where it is almost impossible to survive. Help us get from Azovstal to a mediating country. If not you, who else? Give me a hint.”

Volyna said in a Facebook post that he created a Twitter account just to address Musk, who runs electric car giant Tesla and aerospace company SpaceX. Musk is currently finalizing the acquisition of Twitter. In his post, Volyna asked “every person on planet Earth, help make Elon see my appeal,” citing the CEO’s optimistic outlook on the future.

Azovstal Steelworks
The acting commander of Ukraine’s naval brigade has asked Elon Musk to help rescue soldiers holed up at the Astoval Steelworks in the port city of Mariupol. Above is a view of the plant on May 10, 2022 amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, Volyna posted a viral Facebook video urging world leaders to withdraw Ukrainian forces from the plant after being severely outnumbered by their Russian counterparts. In the video, he promised “we will not lay down our arms”. In a Facebook post, he renewed his calls for world leaders to help evacuate the troops.

The Ukrainian armed forces at the Azovstal plant are faced with dire conditions, with insufficient food and medical care for the wounded. Azov Battalion, a unit of Ukraine’s National Guard, described “completely unsanitary conditions, with open wounds associated with unsterile bandage remnants.”

“We call for the immediate evacuation of wounded soldiers to Ukrainian-controlled areas, where they will be supported and adequately cared for,” the brigade said.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that it is currently “impossible to unlock Azovstal by military means” and Ukrainian officials are trying to reach an agreement with Russia to evacuate the wounded.

She said the Russians do not agree with “extraction,” the process of removing military personnel from a hostile environment.

“The government is working out different options,” Vereshchuk said. “None of them are perfect. But we’re not looking for an ideal option, we’re looking for a working one.”

news week has reached out to Musk for comment. Ukrainian trapped in Azovstal begs Elon Musk for help: ‘If not you, then who?’

Rick Schindler

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