The soldiers of the Azov Battalion, who are defending the port city Mariupol, which has been under heavy enemy attack since nearly the start of the war, eat only once a day and are forced to drink technical water, due to limited food supplies, relayed Azov Battalion commander and the Hero of Ukraine, Denys Prokopenko, in an interview with Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Gordon on March 31.
“Our people sometimes faint from hunger, because food supplies are extremely limited,” Prokopenko explained.
"We eat once a day. Resources are not unlimited. We will defend the city for a long time, so we are learning to save. As of today, we don’t have the ability to provide every soldier with food and water.
Therefore, our food supplies are also running out, just like ammunition, but we are trying to save and shoot accurately in order to save ammunition for the next days of confrontation.”
The Azov commander also confirmed that the soldiers are forced to drink non-potable, technical water due to the lack of clean drinking water:
“Sometimes you have to deal with the fact that even the seriously injured have to boil technical water and use it,” he said.
“This is a real humanitarian catastrophe, because the civilians who remained in the city are in exactly the same situation.”
Prokopenko stressed that the defenders of Mariupol are fighting against superior enemy forces, but maintain hope and faith in the Ukrainian operation to lift the blockade of the city.
Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukrainian soldiers have collectively destroyed more than a tank battalion, knocked out at least two battalions of armored vehicles, and successfully shot down aircraft and helicopters.
Mariupol has been blockaded by invading Russian forces since March 1. More than 2,300 civilians have died in the city since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion, according to the City Council. It is impossible to establish the exact number of victims due to the constant shelling of Mariupol by Russian invaders.
As a result of Russian attacks, more than 80% of the city's infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, has been destroyed.
Russian invaders are also not allowing humanitarian cargo into Mariupol, and are disrupting Ukrainian humanitarian corridors, while forcibly abducting city residents and sending them to Russia and to the regions of Donbas occupied by Russia (as of March 31, at least 45,000 people have been abducted by the invaders). The only way to evacuate from the city is on foot or by private car.
More than 160,000 people remain in the city, which desperately needs to be evacuated, the mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, said on March 28.