Russia announced on Tuesday (05.17.2022) that 265 Ukrainian troops had surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold of the opposition in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, and was “preparing for a long period of time, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.”
Moscow has been claiming control of the strategic port city since April after a week-long siege. However, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers were stationed in the tunnels under the vast Azovstal Industrial Zone, surrounded by Russian troops.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, 265 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered, including 51 wounded who were taken to a hospital in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, which is controlled by pro-Russian rebels.
Moscow does not mention that soldiers would be treated as criminals or prisoners of war. But Russian President Vladimir Putin has “guaranteed that they will be treated in accordance with relevant international law,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the soldiers had left the Azovstal area and expressed confidence that “a transfer procedure (…) will be carried out to repatriate these Ukrainian heroes as soon as possible”.
Ukraine continues to oppose
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vareshchuk noted an exchange, but only in relation to “52 seriously injured soldiers”. “Once their condition is stable, we will transfer them to Russian prisoners of war,” he told the Telegram.
According to the Ukrainian military, protests at the steel plant delayed the transfer of 20,000 Russian troops to other parts of Ukraine and prevented the rapid capture of the southern city of Moscow, Saporizhia.
“Thanks to Mariupol’s bodyguards, Ukraine has had a crucial time in building reserves, reorganizing forces, mobilizing and seeking assistance from allies,” the ministry said.
For its part, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has announced that it will send a team of 42 experts to Ukraine to investigate allegations of war crimes committed during the Russian invasion.
Ukraine has been waiting longer than expected against Russian troops with the help of the weapons and money of its Western allies.
In a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zhelensky, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to intensify the supply of arms and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine “in the coming days and weeks.”
mg (afp, AP)
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