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264 Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant Updated: 2022-05-18 09:57:30 KST

More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers have been evacuated from the besieged port city of Mariupol after being trapped for more than two months in the Azovstal steel plant.
They included more than 53 Ukrainian soldiers who were severely wounded.

"On May 16th, 53 severely wounded soldiers were evacuated from Azovstal to a medical facility in Novoazovsk to receive medical attention. 211 more people were transported to Olenivka through a humanitarian corridor. An exchange will be organized for their return home. Regarding the defenders remaining on Azovstal territory, rescue measures are being carried out jointly with the agencies mentioned earlier."

This comes after Russia agreed to evacuate the injured Ukrainian troops for treatment in a town held by Russian-backed rebels.
Ukraine's deputy defense minister said the troops will be exchanged later for captured Russians.
It's currently unclear how many soldiers remain in the steel plant, but Ukraine vowed to continue its efforts to save those left behind.
In a late night video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said "Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive."

Meanwhile, Sweden and Finland are speeding their NATO membership applications.
Sweden's Foreign Minister on Tuesday signed an application, declaring to join the U.S.-led military alliance while in Finland, the country's Parliament is likely to vote Tuesday on a proposal to join NATO, marking the completion of another legislative step required for it to seek NATO membership.
The European Council welcomed the move, and said it strongly supports the applications of both countries.
Turkey however, has complicated Sweden and Finland's bid to join NATO, saying it will not approve their memberships because of what it perceives as their harboring of exiled Kurdish militants.
Without the support of all NATO members, the two Nordic countries will not be able to join the military alliance.
Min Suk-hyen, Arirang News.
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