Russia says nearly 700 more Mariupol fighters surrender; leaders still holed up

18/5/2022 1:40:00 PM
Russia says nearly 700 more Mariupol fighters surrender; leaders still holed up

Russia says nearly 700 more Mariupol fighters surrender; leaders still holed up

Russia says nearly 700 more Mariupol fighters surrender; leaders still holed up

MARIUPOL: Nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters surrendered at the Mariupol steelworks in the past 24 hours, Russia said on Wednesday (May 18), but leaders were reported to still be holed up inside, delaying the final end of Europe\u0027s longest and bloodiest battle for decades. Finland and Sweden meanwhile forma

Russia's ministry of defence said the surrender of 694 more fighters meant a total of 959 people had now lain down their arms at the vast Azovstal steelworks - last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in the city.The final surrender of Mariupol would bring a close to a near three month siege of the once prosperous city of 400,000 people, where Ukraine says tens of thousands of civilians died under Russian siege and bombardment, many buried in mass graves.

Russia says more than 50 wounded fighters have been brought for treatment to a hospital, and others have been taken to a newly reopened prison, both in towns held by pro-Russian separatists. Reuters journalists have filmed buses bringing captured fighters to both locations.

Read more: CNA »

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LinkedIn MARIUPOL: Nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters surrendered at the Mariupol steelworks in the past 24 hours, Russia said on Wednesday (May 18), but leaders were reported to still be holed up inside, delaying the final end of Europe's longest and bloodiest battle for decades.A view shows a bus carrying service members of Ukrainian forces from the besieged Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian military in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Novoazovsk, Ukraine on May 16, 2022.surrendered to Russian forces at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol after weeks of desperate resistance, bringing an end to the most devastating siege of Russia's war in Ukraine and allowing President Vladimir Putin to claim a rare victory in his faltering campaign.Even as the Kremlin prepares to take full control of the ruins of Mariupol, it faces the growing prospect of defeat in its bid to conquer all of Ukraine's eastern Donbas because its badly mauled forces lack the manpower for significant advances, some analysts of the Russian campaign said.

Finland and Sweden meanwhile formally applied to join NATO, bringing about the very expansion that Russian President Vladimir Putin has long cited as one of his main reasons for launching the"special military operation" in February. Russia's ministry of defence said the surrender of 694 more fighters meant a total of 959 people had now lain down their arms at the vast Azovstal steelworks - last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in the city. The evacuation likely marked the end of the longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war and a significant defeat for Ukraine. If confirmed, the Russian announcement would resolve much of the mystery surrounding the fate of hundreds of fighters inside the plant, since Ukraine announced on Tuesday it had ordered the entire garrison to stand down. Five arrived in the Russian-held town of Novoazovsk, where Moscow said the wounded would be treated. The Ukrainian defence ministry, which has so far confirmed only about 250 having left the plant, did not immediately respond to a written request for comment. With the rest of Mariupol firmly in Russian hands, hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians had holed up beneath the city's Azovstal steelworks. The leader of pro-Russian separatists in control of the area was quoted by a local news agency as saying the main commanders inside the plant had yet to surrender:"They have not left", DAN news agency quoted Denis Pushilin as saying. Some of the women wore olive green uniforms, as did most of the men.

The final surrender of Mariupol would bring a close to a near three month siege of the once prosperous city of 400,000 people, where Ukraine says tens of thousands of civilians died under Russian siege and bombardment, many buried in mass graves. "The 'Mariupol' garrison has fulfilled its combat mission," the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in a statement announcing evacuations. A Reuters witness said seven buses carrying Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal garrison arrived at a newly reopened prison in the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka near Donetsk. Kyiv and Moscow had both said on Tuesday that around 250 people left the plant, giving little clue as to the fate of hundreds more believed to be inside. Ukraine said it would not reveal how many were there until the operation to rescue all of them was complete.. Ukrainian officials have spoken of hopes to arrange a prisoner swap for Mariupol defenders they describe as national heroes. On the international front, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Sweden and Finland will on Wednesday hand in their respective applications to join NATO , abandoning their long-standing policy of neutrality over concerns about Putin's wider intentions. Moscow says no such deal was made for fighters it calls Nazis. Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time," it added. TASS news agency said a Russian committee planned to question the soldiers, many of them members of the Azov Battalion, as part of an investigation into what Moscow calls"Ukrainian regime crimes".

Russia says more than 50 wounded fighters have been brought for treatment to a hospital, and others have been taken to a newly reopened prison, both in towns held by pro-Russian separatists. Reuters journalists have filmed buses bringing captured fighters to both locations. Another 211 people were taken to the town of Olenivka, in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists, Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar said. But the port lies in ruins, and Ukraine believes tens of thousands of people were killed under months of Russian bombardment. The Kremlin says Putin has personally guaranteed the humane treatment of those who surrender, but high-profile Russian politicians have publicly called for them never to be exchanged, or even for their execution. FINLAND AND SWEDEN APPLY TO NATO The Swedish and Finnish ambassadors in a ceremony at the alliance's headquarters. It was not clear how many troops remained in Azovstal. "This is a historic moment, which we must seize," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. Russian defence ministry video showed fighters leaving the plant, some carried on stretchers, others with hands up to be searched by Russian troops. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said talks were"on hold" as Russia is not willing to accept that it will not achieve its goals.

Ratification of all 30 allied parliaments could take up to a year, diplomats say. [[nid:579127]] Reuters saw five buses carrying troops from Azovstal arrive in Novoazovsk late on Monday. Turkey has surprised its allies in recent days by saying it had reservations about the new prospective members, especially their tolerance of Kurdish militant groups on their soil. Stoltenberg said he thought the issues could be overcome. Some 600 troops were believed to have been inside the steel plant. Ukraine's military said units in Azovstal had completed their combat mission. Washington has also played down the likelihood that Turkish objections would halt the accession. Finland, which shares a 1,300km border with Russia, and Sweden were both militarily non-aligned throughout the Cold War, and their decision to join the alliance represents the biggest change in European security for decades. "There are severely wounded ones among them. Russian defence ministry video showed fighters leaving the plant, some carried on stretchers, others with hands up to be searched by Russian troops.

In a stroke, it will more than double the alliance's land border with Russia, give NATO control over nearly the entire coast of the Baltic Sea and put NATO guards just a few hours drive north of St Petersburg. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia's lower house, said:"Nazi criminals should not be exchanged. After weeks in which Russia threatened retaliation against the plans, Putin appeared to abruptly climb down this week, saying in a speech on Monday that Russia had"no problems" with either Finland or Sweden, and their NATO membership would not be an issue unless the alliance sent more troops or weapons there. Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. VICTORY The steelworks surrender in Mariupol allows Putin to claim a rare victory in a campaign which has otherwise faltered. Recent weeks have seen Russian forces abandon the area around Ukraine's second larges city Kharkiv, now retreating at their fastest rate since they were driven from the north and the Kyiv environs at the end of March. They stared out the windows without reacting. But she was still worried:"What Russia is doing now is inhumane. Nevertheless, Moscow has continued to press on with its main offensive, trying to capture more territory in the Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine which it claims on behalf of separatists it has supported since 2014. High-profile Russian lawmakers spoke out against any prisoner swap.

Mariupol, the main port for the Donbas, is the biggest city Russia has captured so far, and gives Moscow full control of the Sea of Azov and an unbroken swathe of territory across the east and south of Ukraine. Since Russia launched its invasion in February, Mariupol's devastation has become a symbol both of Ukraine's resistance and of Russia's willingness to devastate Ukrainian cities that hold out. The siege was the deadliest battle in Europe at least since the wars in Chechnya and the Balkans of the 1990s. Two strikes - on a maternity ward and a theatre where hundreds of people were sheltering - became worldwide emblems of Russia's tactic of devastating population centres. The city's months of resistance became a global emblem of Ukraine's refusal to yield against a far better-armed foe, while its near total destruction demonstrated Russia's tactic of raining down fire on population centres. Lviv explosions, Kharkiv fighting Moscow calls its nearly three-month-old invasion a "special military operation" to rid Ukraine of fascists, an assertion Kyiv and its Western allies say is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war. Russia insists it had agreed to no prisoner swap in advance for the Azovstal defenders, many of whom belong to the Azov Regiment, a Ukrainian unit with origins as a far right militia, which Russia describes as Nazis and blames for mistreating Russian speakers. "I didn’t know English has so many ways to express a single message: the #Azovnazis have unconditionally surrendered," tweeted Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky. A Ukrainian counterattack in recent days has driven Russian forces out of the area near Kharkiv, the biggest city in the east. UKRAINIAN ADVANCES Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces have been advancing at their fastest pace for more than a month, driving Russian forces out of the area around Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city." The United Nations and Red Cross say the true death toll from the Mariupol siege is still uncounted but it is certain to be Europe's worst since the 1990s wars in Chechnya and the Balkans.

TASS news agency reported a Russian committee planned to question the soldiers as part of an investigation into what Moscow calls"Ukrainian regime crimes". Leonid Slutsky, one of Russia's negotiators in talks with Ukraine, called the evacuated combatants"animals in human form" and said they should be executed. A series of explosions struck Lviv early on Tuesday, a Reuters witness said. Related: . Russia is still pressing that advance despite taking heavy losses.