Uncertain was the Destiny of Ukrainian Azovstal Defenders

As the battle for Azovstal comes to a close, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers remain unaccounted for. As the fight in Azovstal comes to a conclusion, it is unknown what will happen to hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers.

After the fighters surrendered and were moved to Russian-controlled territory, it is unknown what will become of the hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who ended weeks of resistance at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. The resistance lasted at the steelworks in Mariupol.

Introduction to new legislation by members of Russia’s State

CBC: Ukrainian Azovstal Defenders
CBC: Civilian evacuated from steelwork in Mariupol

However, some Russian authorities have stated that they may be convicted or even executed if they are not included in the prisoner exchange that was announced by the deputy defense minister of Ukraine. Members of Russia’s State Duma have stated that they intend to introduce new legislation that has the potential to scuttle prisoner swaps involving fighters whom Moscow labels as “terrorists.”

Russia called Azovstal a mass capitulation

The Azovstal operation has been referred to as a mass surrender by Russia, while the Ukrainian army has stated that the defenders of the steel mill have “completed their combat mission” and that the primary objective at this point is to save their lives.

In a video speech, President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed the need of preserving the lives of Ukrainian national heroes.

While Russian forces took control of the rest of the city after reducing most of it into an uninhabitable wasteland, hundreds of troops had remained holed up in a maze of tunnels and bunkers underground the steelworks for weeks. Many of the individuals who were trapped at Azovstal had suffered terrible injuries, but there was only limited medical attention and supplies available.

During the past few weeks, a settlement that allowed civilians who had taken shelter at the plant to be rescued was negotiated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in order to allow them to escape to the territory that is under the authority of the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine had been seeking a compromise that would also allow the fighters to retire to territories controlled by Ukraine, or for their evacuation to a country that is not involved in the conflict. On the other hand, as that was not forthcoming, Ukrainian officials said in the early hours of Tuesday that the defense of the facility was effectively ended and it had been abandoned.

Hanna Maliar, who serves as the deputy minister of defense, stated on Tuesday that “this was the only option.”

265 Ukrainian troops surrendered, according to Russia’s defense ministry

"Uncertain was the Destiny of Ukrainian Azovstal Defenders"

265 Ukrainian troops surrendered

According to the defense ministry of Russia, 265 Ukrainian forces surrendered at the facility. Among them were 51 critically injured soldiers who will be taken to hospitals in Novoazovsk, which is located in Russian-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. There was a lack of clarity regarding the exact number of Ukrainian forces that were still present at the plant.

Footage of the incident was uploaded to social media by pro-Russian accounts, which showed squads of military transporting injured civilians on stretchers through the rubble outside the power plant.

Malar stated that an exchange procedure would take conducted prior to their departure to their native country. Iryna Vereshchuk, the deputy prime minister, also stated that the warriors would be traded for each other. She concluded her letter with the phrase, “God willing, everything will be OK.”

The tone that Zelenskiy struck was one of more caution. “The effort of bringing the boys home continues, and this work requires delicacy – and patience,” he said. “The work of bringing the boys home.”

It is not known what the details of the deal are that led to the evacuation, and a rush of tough statements from Russian officials hinted that an exchange may still be quite some time away.

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Vladimir Putin, made a pledge that fighters who surrendered would be treated “according to international standards.” However, this commitment was quickly contradicted by statements made by two Russian officials.

A member of the Russian parliament named Leonid Slutsk, who took part in negotiations with Ukraine at an earlier stage of the conflict, suggested that Russia should lift its moratorium on the death penalty for fighters from the Azov regiment, which was one of the main forces defending the steelworks. He referred to these fighters as “animals in human form.”

During a speech on Tuesday, Vyacheslav Volodin, one of the most prominent figures in Russia and the chair of the State Duma, stated that convicts associated with the Nazi party should not be swapped for other prisoners. “Those who have surrendered to our country or who have been captured are treated with humanity.” Regarding the Nazis, though, we should maintain the same stance: “These individuals are war criminals, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that they stand trial.”

Volodin did not directly address the surrender of the troops at Azovstal in his statement; however, the context was clear as Russia’s defense ministry released a video of the evacuation of the Ukrainian fighters on Tuesday morning, saying that some of those evacuated were members of the Azov battalion.

Another obstacle in the way of a possible trade

On Tuesday, the Russian Ministry of Justice filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to designate the Azov regiment as a terrorist organization. This could be another obstacle in the way of a possible trade.

The Russian propaganda narrative regarding the war in Ukraine, which was initially launched with the purported purpose of “denazification,” has made extensive use of the Azov Sea throughout the conflict. It was established in 2014 as a volunteer militia to combat forces in east Ukraine that were supported by Russia, and a significant number of its founding members held far-right extremist views. Since then, the unit has become a part of the Ukrainian national guard, and its commanders claim that it has distanced itself from its far-right roots since it was brought into the guard.

For many millions of Ukrainians, the heroic defense of Mariupol in the face of Russian aggression has come to represent the country as a whole. In addition to the increase in morale, sources within the Ukrainian military have claimed that the Russian army’s advance was halted as a direct result of the intense battle for Mariupol that was waged by the Ukrainians.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskiy, made this comparison on Twitter between the defenders of Azovstal and a tiny band of Spartans who repelled a much bigger attacking force at the battle of Thermopylae in the fifth century BC. The Spartans were up against a far larger attacking force. According to the author said, the successful defense of Mariupol “totally changed the trajectory of the war” and “ruined Russia’s ambitions to seize the east of Ukraine.”

Sandra Krotevych, the sister of Bohdan Krotevych, the head of staff for Azov, stated that she had spoken to her brother at five in the morning on Tuesday and that he was still in the area of Azovstal, but that she had not heard from him since then. She said that in recent weeks, as the supplies that had been stockpiled in the steelworks began to run out and Russian strikes on the plant continued, the soldiers had been eating only once a day and had been drinking water from pipes and other unclean sources. She added that this was because the supplies that had been stockpiled in the steelworks had been hoarded.

Sandra Krotevych stated that the fighters had long since realized that Mariupol did not have any longer strategic importance to the Ukrainian army. The fighters were hoping to be able to bury their dead and evacuate their injured, but they were holding out for a deal that would have allowed them to leave to territory that was controlled by Ukraine or a third country.

“To put it frankly, I’m a little taken aback by this. In a telephone conversation, she stated, “I am not thrilled about it, and I would have liked to hear security promises before this happened.”

Now, the fighters are at the mercy of the Russian authorities, and extremist critics are asking that they not be exchanged for any other prisoners. Anton Krasovsky, a pundit for RT, referred to the refugees as “wounded terrorists” and requested that they not be handed over to the Ukrainian government. RT is supported by the Russian state.

The statement made by Krasovsky was along the lines of, “Any Azov member delivered to Kyiv would be seen as our defeat, as our Russian capitulation.” He pleaded with his audience to “not allow this” and suggested that there should be a trial, adding that RT should host a Livestream for the wives of those involved.

Sandra Krotevych issued a request to the world community in the midst of such rhetoric from Russia, demanding that a method be found to ensure that the soldiers were returned to Ukraine. Their very survival is dependent on the decisions made by world leaders. If there is any chance that they can be saved, then the people of Ukraine will be eternally thankful to those responsible. According to what she said, “They are heroes for the entirety of Ukraine.”

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