Besieged Ukraine commander's plea to Elon Musk: 'Help us get out of Mariupol'
A Ukrainian military commander has pleaded with billionaire Elon Musk to help free them from the besieged southern port of Mariupol.
Last week, Ukrainian authorities said over 1,000 of its troops - many of them wounded and injured - were in the underground tunnels of the Azovstal steel plant, which has so far held firm against Russian occupation.
All civilians have been evacuated from the plant, and only Ukrainian soldiers, including wounded servicemen, remain defiant in the steel complex which is under siege from the Russian military.
Serhiy Volyna, commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of reaching out to Musk in the hope of getting some more help to the besieged plant.
"People say you come from another planet to teach people to believe in the impossible," he tweeted.
"Our planets are next to each other, as I live where it is nearly impossible to survive. Help us get out of Azovstal to a mediating country. If not you, then who?"
Volyna also posted an appeal to Facebook to contact the SpaceX founder, writing: "Help us get out of Mariupol".
Twitter, which Musk is currently looking to buy in a $44 billion deal, has seen an increase in users since the invasion of Ukraine began.
The company said people were using the social media service to find news and support.
Musk has previously used the platform to challenge Vladimir Putin to "single combat" over the war, and donated a number of Starlink satellites to help keep Ukrainian troops online.
One soldier said of the donations: "I want to say one thing: Elon Musk's Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine's favour.
"Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can't. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol."
Watch: Kyiv offers to swap Russian prisoners for injured Mariupol steelplant workers
Russian troops have kept bombarding the Azovstal plant over the past 24 hours in the hope of gaining control.
Ukraine's Azov Regiment said 38 air raids were carried out - including four air raids by strategic bombers - over the past 24 hours.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week that Ukraine does not have such heavy weapons that would allow them to unblock Mariupol through military means.
“These are not thoughts. These are the conclusions made by the leadership of the Ukrainian Army,” Zelenskyy stressed.