The commander of the Ukrainian Marine Corps has appealed to technology magnate Elon Musk to help soldiers escape from a steel factory besieged by Russian forces.
Major Serhii Volina, the acting commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, made his plea on Wednesday to the world’s richest man via Twitter. Volina is among Ukrainian forces held in Azovstal, the last stronghold against Russian forces in the southern port city of Mariupol. Volina’s appeal comes as Ukrainian officials seek a deal with Russia to withdraw their wounded soldiers.
“Tweet embed People say you came from another planet to teach people to believe in the impossible,” Volina wrote in his tweet. Our planets are next to each other, where I live where it is almost impossible to survive. Help us get out of Azovstal to an intermediate country. If not you who? Give me a hint.”
Volina said in a Facebook post that he created a Twitter account solely to address Musk, who heads electric car giant Tesla and space transportation company SpaceX. Musk is currently finalizing his Twitter acquisition. In this post, Volina asked “everyone on the planet, to help make Elon see my attraction,” citing the CEO’s optimistic outlook on the future.
Last month, Volina posted a viral video on Facebook asking world leaders to remove Ukrainian troops from the factory after they were outnumbered by their Russian counterparts. “We will not lay down our weapons,” he vowed in the video. He renewed his calls for world leaders to help evacuate the troops in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Ukrainian troops at the Azovstal factory face dire conditions, with insufficient food and medical care for the wounded. The Azov Battalion, a unit of Ukraine’s National Guard, described “completely unsanitary conditions, with open wounds covered in the remnants of non-sterile bandages.”
“We demand the immediate evacuation of the wounded soldiers to the territories under Ukrainian control, where they will be helped and given appropriate care,” the general said.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that it was “currently impossible to cancel the Azovstal ban by military means” and that Ukrainian officials were trying to reach an agreement with Russia to evacuate the wounded.
She said the Russians did not agree on “extraction,” the process of removing military personnel from a hostile environment.
“The government is working on different options,” Vereshock said. “None of them are perfect. But we are not looking for a perfect option, but an effective one.”
NEWSWEEK Reached out to Musk for comment.