Donetsk separatists say nearly 1,000 surrendered to Azovstal plant

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said on May 18 that a total of 962 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered at the Azovstal steelworks since the start of the week. A video recently released by the Russian Defense Ministry’s Zvezda channel showed fighters, some on stretchers and crutches, leaving the factory. Some people wear Azovstal Ironworks uniforms and others wear military-style uniforms. The video ends with fighters being loaded onto buses and one into an ambulance. From May 16, Ukrainian evacuees were transferred to Russian-occupied Novoazovsk and Olenivka in Donetsk Oblast, according to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar. The Russian Defense Ministry said the injured would be treated at Novoazovsk hospital. Malyar said an exchange for evacuees would take place, but the Russian Duma was considering banning the exchange of Azov Battalion prisoners. The military personnel would be questioned by investigators from the Russian Investigative Committee, state media reported on May 17. DPR leader Denis Pushilin said on May 18 that their fate “should be decided by the court”, according to another report. Russia accused the Azov Battalion and other Ukrainian fighters who held Azovstal of being criminals and regularly compared them to Nazis. The Azov Battalion was originally a far-right militia before being absorbed into the Ukrainian army. The Azovstal factory had become the last stronghold of Ukrainian troops in Mariupol after most of the city fell under the control of the Russian army and the Donetsk People’s Republic. Hundreds of civilian refugees in Azovstal were evacuated to areas under Russian and Ukrainian control under an earlier agreement. Credit: Zvezda News via Storyful

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