Russia, with its usual care for civilian lives, is still proceeding with caution at the Azot chemical plant. As it did with the Azovstal factory complex in Mariupol getting civilians out unharmed is the main priority. According to an Izvestia report civilians originally sheltered at the plant from the bombing but are now being held hostage there.
Women who escaped from the plant tell of foreign mercenaries holed up there. Anna, who was at a factory bomb shelter there for two months because a bomb hit their house told RIA Novosti there are “a lot of mercenaries, a lot. . .”. She could not be specific about the exact number because civilians were kept separate, but they could be heard speaking in English and other foreign languages.
This is almost certainly true because a British ex-soldier was recently killed in Severodonetsk.
“A former British soldier has died fighting Russian forces in Sievierodonetsk. The British Foreign Office confirmed Jordan Gatley was shot and killed in Ukraine. He left the British army in March “to continue his career as a soldier in other areas” and had been helping Ukrainian troops defend their country against Russia, his father, Dean, wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.”
Ordinary people were not allowed to leave the shelter because, they were told it was dangerous. On 10 June, when the attention of those holding them hostage was distracted, the women made their escape.
On 15 June a “green corridor” was arranged but small arms fire and a mortar attack caused a fire which prevented the evacuation. However, before the “green corridor” was officially opened an elderly man was allowed to leave to pick up some things from his nearby residence, according to Alexander Nikishin, head of the garrison service of the People’s Militia Corps of the LPR. The pensioner, who did not dare return, said there were 70 to 75 civilians with him at the plant.
Apparently there are permanent residents, about 100, living at the plant because certain operations cannot be allowed to stop or the whole complex would shut down and it would not be possible to restart it. These families, together with those encouraged to take shelter there, are now allegedly being held hostage. In Russian the word “azot” means “nitrogen” and fertiliser is the main product of the complex. None of the civilians are aware of the “green corridor”.
The rest of the city of Severodonetsk has been liberated.