Kyiv / Mariupol — After weeks of desperate resistance, concerns about the welfare of more than 250 Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russian troops at the Azovstal iron and mill in Mariupol rose on Wednesday.
The surrender put an end to the most devastating siege of Russia’s war in Ukraine, allowing President Vladimir Putin to claim a rare victory in his debilitating campaign.
The bus left the steelworks late Monday with a convoy escorted by Russian armored vehicles. The five arrived in Russia’s own town of Novaazovsk, and Moscow said the injured fighter would be treated.
Seven buses carrying Ukrainian fighters from the Azofustari garrison arrived at a newly reopened prison in the Russian-controlled town of Olenifka near Donetsk, according to Reuters.
Russia said at least 256 Ukrainian fighters, including 51 seriously injured, “surrendered with weapons.” Ukraine said 264 soldiers, including 53 injured, have left.
A video from the Russian Defense Ministry showed that fighters were leaving the factory, some were carried on stretchers, and others were raising their hands to be searched by Russian troops.
According to a Reuters video, there were some women on at least one of the Orenifka buses.
Both sides talked about the arrangement that all Ukrainian troops abandon the steelworks, but many details are still available, such as the number of fighters still inside and whether some form of prisoner exchange has been agreed. It was not published.
The Kremlin said Putin personally guaranteed that prisoners of war would be treated according to international standards, and Ukrainian authorities said they could be exchanged for Russian prisoners.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Kyiv aims to arrange prisoner exchange once the injured’s condition stabilizes.
“I didn’t know there were so many ways English could express a single message. # Azovnazis unconditionally surrendered,” tweeted Russia’s UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky.
As part of an investigation into what Moscow calls a “Ukrainian government crime,” TASS media reported a Russian Commission that would ask soldiers, many of whom were members of the Azov Battalion.
A prominent Russian lawmaker opposed the prisoner exchange. “Nazi criminals should not be exchanged,” said Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the House of Representatives in Russia.
Leonid Slatsky, one of Russia’s negotiators with Ukraine, called the evacuated fighters “human-shaped animals” and said they should be executed.
The Azov Battalion, formed in 2014 as a far-right volunteer militia to fight Russian-backed separatists, has denied being a fascist or neo-Nazi. Ukraine says it was reformed and integrated into the National Guard.
Natalia, the wife of a sailor trapped in the factory, told Reuters that she “wants to have an honest relationship.” But she was still worried. She said, “What Russia is doing now is inhumane.”
On the diplomatic side, US President Joe Biden will invite Swedish and Finnish leaders to discuss NATO’s application at the White House on Thursday, according to the White House. The Nordic countries are optimistic that they can overcome Turkey’s opposition to forming an alliance of 30 countries.
Battle for Donbus
The condemnation of the Mariupol battle is Russia’s greatest victory since it launched what is called a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24th.
It gives Moscow control of the Sea of Azov coast and an uninterrupted expanse of eastern and southern Ukraine. But the harbor is in ruins, and Ukraine believes that months of Russian bombardment killed tens of thousands of people.
Meanwhile, Russia’s attacks in the east seemed to have made little progress, but the Kremlin states that all its objectives will be achieved.
Ukrainian military headquarters said Russia continued to bombard Ukraine’s position along the entire eastern front on Wednesday.
“In the direction of Kharkiv, the enemy focused on maintaining its position and preventing further advancement of our troops,” the Ukrainian staff said in a statement.
About one-third of Donbus was held by Russian-backed separatists prior to the invasion. Moscow currently controls about 90% of the Luhansk region, but was unable to make a major invasion to expand control of Donetsk’s major cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk as a whole. ..
Ukrainian troops have advanced at the fastest pace for over a month, expelling Russian troops from the area around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
Ukraine states that its troops have reached the Russian border 40 km (25 miles) north of Kharkiv. They also pushed to the Siverskiy Donets River, 40 km east, which could at least threaten Russia’s supply lines.
According to analysts, Putin is working with more troops to replenish the weakened invading forces as an influx of Western weapons, including the US and Canadian M777 howitzers, which have a longer range than Russian equivalents. You may need to decide whether to send the hardware.
“Time is definitely working against Russians … Ukrainians are getting stronger almost every day,” said Neil Melvin, a RUSI think tank in London.
(Reports by Natalia Ginetz of Kyiv and Reuters journalists in Mariupol’s, additional reports by the Reuters Bureau, written by Stephen Coates, edited by Grant McCool and Lincoln Feast.)
Fear of Mariupol defenders after surrendering to Russia
Source link Fear of Mariupol defenders after surrendering to Russia