Tons of of Ukrainian troopers who held off Russian fighters on the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have surrendered, Moscow mentioned Tuesday, as Kyiv known as for a direct prisoner swap.
The strategic port metropolis fell to Russian forces final month, however a relentless Ukrainian navy unit held out within the maze of tunnels below the plant, hailed as heroes and celebrated for stalling Moscow s invasion.
On Tuesday, 265 of them have been taken into Russian captivity, together with 51 who have been closely wounded, the Russian defence ministry mentioned.
The ministry, which revealed photos displaying troopers on stretchers, mentioned the injured have been transported to a hospital within the japanese Donetsk area managed by pro-Kremlin rebels.
The defence ministry in Kyiv mentioned it hoped for an “change process… to repatriate these Ukrainian heroes as shortly as potential”.
The federal government would do “all the pieces mandatory” to rescue the undisclosed variety of personnel nonetheless holed up within the Soviet-era bunkers, the ministry mentioned, however admitted there was no navy possibility accessible.
The destiny of the captured Ukrainians was unclear Tuesday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refusing to say whether or not they could be handled as criminals or prisoners of battle.
President Vladimir Putin “assured that they might be handled in line with the related worldwide legal guidelines,” Peskov mentioned.
Belief between the 2 sides is briefly provide, with Kyiv saying negotiations on ending the three-month battle have been on maintain, blaming Moscow for a refusal to compromise.
Russian forces stand accused of committing battle crimes throughout a battle that has left hundreds useless and compelled hundreds of thousands to flee their properties.
These embrace the abstract killing of civilians in locations like Bucha, a small city outdoors of Kyiv, the place AFP reporters witnessed our bodies deserted within the streets by retreating Russian invaders.
The Worldwide Legal Courtroom mentioned Tuesday it was deploying its largest-ever area crew to Ukraine, with 42 investigators, forensic specialists and assist employees being despatched into the sector to collect proof of alleged crimes.
And the US State Division additionally introduced it was making a particular unit to analysis, doc and publicise Russian battle crimes.
The Battle Observatory will “seize, analyse, and make extensively accessible proof of Russia-perpetrated battle crimes and different atrocities in Ukraine,” the division mentioned.