It seems that the battle of Mariupol is over, and the Ukrainian soldiers who are holed up in the Azovstal steel plants are about to surrender.
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Ukraine’s Defense Ministry announced late Monday night that 264 Ukrainian soldiers, of whom 53 were seriously wounded, had left steel plants and were in Russian-controlled territory.
Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Jana Malgar stated that the soldiers would undergo a “swap procedure”, that is, they would be exchanged with Russian prisoners of war. This was not confirmed by the Russian team.
To the hospital
On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that 265 Ukrainian soldiers had laid down their arms and surrendered in the past 24 hours, of whom 51 were seriously wounded.
According to Reuters, the wounded soldiers were taken in a bus to a hospital in separatist-controlled Novoazovsk in the Donetsk region accompanied by pro-Russian forces.
The others were sent to the Russian-controlled city of Olenivka, and then returned as part of an agreement with Russia on the exchange of prisoners.
The Nightmare in Azovstal: During the crucifixion, the soldiers’ limbs were amputated. It was raining outside.
According to the Ukrainian Defense Command, all hostilities in Mariupol were stopped, and the soldiers remaining at the Azovstal steel plants were ordered to surrender.
It was not clear Tuesday evening whether there were still Ukrainian soldiers at the steel plants, and if so, how many.
President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that orders had been given to evacuate soldiers to save lives.
– I want to stress: Ukraine needs its Ukrainian heroes alive. “This is our principle,” he said in a video statement.
In recent days, Russia and Ukraine have negotiated an agreement to ensure that soldiers trapped in steel mills are treated according to international rules for prisoners of war.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk said last week that there were more than 1,000 soldiers at the steel plant and hundreds of them had been wounded.
According to Malgar, work is currently underway to recover the rest of the soldiers.
– Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol. Ukraine decisively won, and they followed their orders. On Monday, she said, it is impossible to break the Azovstal siege by military means.
The battle for the important river was Putin’s breakthrough. It ended in disaster.
The last frontier
Steel mills on the outskirts of Mariupol were the last remaining stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the port city, where Russian forces moved in shortly after the invasion on February 24.
Many civilians were also in the steel mills, but most were evacuated with the help of the United Nations and the Red Cross.
By controlling Mariupol, Russia has now secured a land bridge between the separatist-controlled part of the Donbas region to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. In this way, they have also controlled more than 80 percent of Ukraine’s coast to the Black Sea .
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