President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that during the defense of Mariupol, Ukrainian aircraft were delivering food, water and medicine to the defenders in the blockade, as well as picking up the wounded.
He said this in an interview during a telethon.
"Unfortunately, a very large number of our pilots died. Absolutely heroic people who knew that it was difficult to fly to Azovstal and bring them medicine, food, water, pick up the bodies of the wounded is almost impossible. All this was happening. No one could officially comment," Zelensky explained.
According to him, the main problem of delivery was a powerful Russian air defense. That is why Ukraine asked to close the sky.
"Helicopter pilots for many weeks, knowing that 90% do not return... Imagine what these people did. They flew there to give them food, water, and weapons and took away the wounded. We lost many pilots. They are absolutely heroic," he said.
Zelensky stated that all civilians, all medics and all the seriously injured have already been evacuated from Azovstal. The withdrawal of all military personnel will be completed soon.