The evacuation of Ukrainian troops from the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol is the only possible formula for their rescue, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said.
“Unfortunately, military unblocking is impossible in this situation. There can be no other formula of salvation than the one currently in use. It was the only way out,” Xinhua news agency quoted Malyar as saying late Tuesday.
Ukrainian military forces have fully fulfilled their combat mission in Mariupol, Malyar said.
She added that the rescue operation from Azovstal will continue until Ukrainian soldiers return home from the uncontrolled territory.
Malyar said that 53 seriously wounded soldiers were taken to a healthcare facility in Novoazovsk town, while 211 other troops were taken to Olenivka town through the humanitarian corridor.
Kiev expects that the Ukrainian soldiers will be exchanged for the captured Russians.
Mariupol, a key Azov Sea port city in eastern Ukraine, saw one of the worst bouts of violence in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The Azovstal plant, which covers about 11 square km, is the holdout of the Ukrainian forces in Mariupol.