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Friday, June 24, 2022

POWs to Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at Mariupol. registered as

by Alexander Stashevsky and Ciaran McQuillan

KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — Hundreds more Ukrainian fighters who defended their side inside Mariupol’s bombed-out steel plant have surrendered, raising the total to more than 1,700, Russia said Thursday, with the fate of prisoners in Moscow’s hands. Amidst international apprehensions about

The Red Cross acted to register soldiers as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions in a step toward ensuring their humane treatment.

Meanwhile, in the first war crimes trial conducted by Ukraine, a captured Russian soldier testified that he shot an unarmed Ukrainian civilian in the head on the orders of an officer and asked the victim’s widow to forgive him. The soldier pleaded guilty earlier in the week, but prosecutors presented evidence against him in line with Ukrainian law.

At Mariupol, the nearly three-month siege that has turned the strategic port city into a symbol of the horrors of war comes to an end as fighters in the last bastion of resistance continue to leave the Azovstal Steel Plant on orders from above to save . their lives.

A total of 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers at the steelworks have surrendered since Monday, the Russian military said. At least some were taken by the Russians to a former penal colony in an area controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. A separatist official said others have been admitted to the hospital.

It was not clear how many fighters were left in the maze of tunnels and bunkers at the plant. In recent weeks Russia has estimated it is battling around 2,000 soldiers at the steelworks.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had registered hundreds of POWs from the plant under an agreement between Russia and Ukraine. It did not say whether he had met the prisoners.

While Ukraine said it hoped to bring the soldiers back in a prisoner swap, Russian officials threatened to investigate some for war crimes and prosecute them, branding them “Nazis” and criminals. Is.

The defense of the steel mill is led by Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, whose far-right origins have been confiscated by the Kremlin as part of an attempt to cast its invasion into Ukraine as a war against Nazi influence.

Those threats and accusations have raised fears of Russian retaliation against the captured fighters.

Amnesty International had pushed for the Red Cross to grant access to troops, citing alleged lawless executions by Russian forces in Ukraine and saying that Azovstal defenders “should not meet the same fate.”

The evacuation of the plant would allow Russia to claim full control of Mariupol, a long-sought victory but at this point of largely symbolic significance as the city was already effectively a part of Moscow. is under control and military analysts say most of the Russian forces that were bound by the drawn-out fighting have already left.

Still, it would be a clear victory in a war that has seen Moscow suffer several setbacks in the face of unexpectedly harsh Ukrainian resistance. Kyiv troops, strengthened by western weapons, thwarted Russia’s initial goal of attacking the capital and tied up Moscow’s forces in the Donbass, the eastern industrial zone, which President Vladimir Putin now has his sights set on capturing. .

The surprising success of Ukraine’s troops in the face of a larger and better armed force has boosted Kyiv’s confidence, a senior official reflected on Thursday.

In a tweet addressed to Moscow, Mykhailo Podolik, adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, involved in several rounds of talks with Russia, said: “Do not offer us a ceasefire – it is impossible without a total withdrawal of Russian troops.”

“Unless Russia is ready to completely liberate the occupied territories, our negotiating team is arms, sanctions and money,” he wrote.

Putin has also lost ground on the diplomatic front. Sweden and Finland applied this week to join NATO and gain their security against Russia, though NATO member Turkey has jeopardized the process.

Turkey has accused the two Nordic countries of harboring or otherwise supporting Kurdish militants and others see it as a threat to their own security. Each of the 30 NATO countries has an effective veto on new members.

“We have told our respective friends that we will say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden entering NATO and that we will continue on our way,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video released on Thursday.

On the battlefield, the Ukrainian army stated that Russian forces launched their offensive in various parts of the front in the Donbass, but were repulsed. The governor of the Luhansk region said four civilians were killed in Russian shelling, while separatist officials in Donetsk said two people were killed in Ukrainian shelling.

On the Russian side of the border, the governor of Kursk province said a truck driver was killed in shelling from Ukraine.

At the trial for war crimes in Kyiv, Sgt. Vadim Shishmarin, a 21-year-old member of a Russian tank unit, told the court that he shot a 62-year-old Ukrainian national, Oleksandr Shelyapov, in the head on orders from an officer.

Shishimarin said he disobeyed the order at first, but felt he had no choice but to follow the order when it was repeated by another officer. He said he was told the man could trace his location to Ukrainian forces.

A prosecutor has disputed that Shishimarin was acting under orders, saying the instructions did not come from a direct commander.

Shishmarin apologized to the victim’s widow, Katerina Shelipova, who described seeing her husband shot outside their home in the early days of the Russian invasion.

She told the court that she believed Shishimarin should be given a life sentence, but would not object if it was exchanged for defenders of the Azovstal plant as part of a potential swap. Won’t happen.

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McQuillan reported from Lviv. Associated Press journalists Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, and Amer Madhani in Washington and other Associated Press employees from around the world contributed.

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Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

World Nation News Desk
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