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Concern Grows For Ukrainian Soldiers After Surrender To Russia In Mariupol

Buses left Azovstal steelworks on Monday in a convoy escorted by Russian armoured automobiles.


Concerns grew on Wednesday for the welfare of greater than 250 Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russian forces on the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol after weeks of determined resistance.

The give up introduced an finish to essentially the most devastating siege of Russia’s struggle in Ukraine and allowed President Vladimir Putin to say a uncommon victory in his faltering marketing campaign, which many navy analysts say has stalled.

Buses left the steelworks late on Monday in a convoy escorted by Russian armoured automobiles. Five arrived within the Russian-held city of Novoazovsk, the place Moscow mentioned wounded fighters can be handled.

Seven buses carrying Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal garrison arrived at a newly reopened jail within the Russian-controlled city of Olenivka close to Donetsk, a Reuters witness mentioned.

Russia mentioned at the least 256 Ukrainian fighters had “laid down their arms and surrendered”, together with 51 severely wounded. Ukraine mentioned 264 troopers, together with 53 wounded, had left.

Russian defence ministry video confirmed fighters leaving the plant, some carried on stretchers, others with palms as much as be searched by Russian troops.

There have been some ladies aboard at the least one of many buses in Olenivka, Reuters video confirmed.

While either side spoke of a deal underneath which all Ukrainian troops would abandon the steelworks, many particulars weren’t but public, together with what number of fighters nonetheless remained inside, and whether or not any type of prisoner swap had been agreed.

The Kremlin mentioned Putin had personally assured the prisoners can be handled in line with worldwide requirements, and Ukrainian officers mentioned they could possibly be exchanged for Russian captives.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk mentioned Kyiv aimed to rearrange a prisoner swap for the wounded as soon as their situation stabilised.

Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky mentioned there had been no deal, tweeting: “I didn’t know English has so many ways to express a single message: the #Azovnazis have unconditionally surrendered.”

TASS information company reported a Russian committee deliberate to query the troopers, a lot of them members of the Azov Battalion, as a part of an investigation into what Moscow calls “Ukrainian regime crimes”.

High-profile Russian lawmakers spoke out in opposition to any prisoner swap. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia’s decrease home, mentioned: “Nazi criminals should not be exchanged.”

Lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, certainly one of Russia’s negotiators in talks with Ukraine, known as the evacuated combatants “animals in human form” and mentioned they need to be executed.

Formed in 2014 as an excessive right-wing volunteer militia to struggle Russian-backed separatists, the Azov Regiment denies being fascist or neo-Nazi. Ukraine says it has been reformed and built-in into the National Guard.

Natalia, the spouse of a sailor amongst these holed up within the plant, informed Reuters she hoped “there will be an honest exchange”. But she was nonetheless nervous: “What Russia is doing now is inhumane.”

Battle for Donbas

The denouement of the battle for Mariupol, which got here to symbolise Ukrainian resistance, is Russia’s greatest victory because it launched what it calls a “special military operation” to “denazify” the nation on Feb. 24.

It provides Moscow management of the Azov Sea coast and an unbroken stretch of japanese and southern Ukraine. The port lies in ruins, and Ukraine believes tens of hundreds of individuals have been killed underneath months of Russian bombardment.

On the diplomatic entrance, US President Joe Biden will host the leaders of Sweden and Finland on the White House on Thursday to debate their NATO functions, the White House mentioned. The Nordic nations are optimistic they will overcome objections from Turkey over jointing the 30-nation alliance.

Russia’s offensive within the east, in the meantime, gave the impression to be making little progress, though the Kremlin says all its targets might be reached.

Around a 3rd of the Donbas was held by Russia-backed separatists earlier than the invasion. Moscow now controls round 90 % of Luhansk area, nevertheless it has did not make main inroads in the direction of the important thing cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk with the intention to prolong management over the complete Donbas.

Ukrainian forces have superior at their quickest tempo for greater than a month, driving Russian forces out of the world round Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis.

Ukraine says its forces had reached the Russian border, 40 km (25 miles) north of Kharkiv. They have additionally pushed at the least so far as the Siverskiy Donets river 40 km to the east, the place they might threaten Russian provide traces.

Putin could need to resolve whether or not to ship extra troops and {hardware} to replenish his weakened invasion pressure as an inflow of Western weapons, together with scores of US and Canadian M777 howitzers which have longer vary than their Russian equivalents, bolsters Ukraine’s fight energy, analysts mentioned.

“Time is definitely working against the Russians … The Ukrainians are getting stronger almost every day,” mentioned Neil Melvin of the RUSI think-tank in London.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)

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