Denver, Colorado 2022-05-17 08:57:47 –
By OLEKSANDRSTASHEVSKYI and CIARAN McQUILLAN
Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters, including a man injured in a stretcher, left Mariupol’s vast steel factory, where they installed the dog’s last stand and put themselves in the hands of Russia. The siege that became a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion of Moscow.
Russia called the operation mass surrender on Tuesday. The Ukrainians avoided using the term, but said the garrison was working to complete the mission and pull out the remaining fighters.
On Monday, more than 260 fighters left the Azofustari mill — the last bastion in Mariupol — and were taken to two Moscow-backed separatist towns, both. Officials said. Other fighters (exact numbers unknown) remain in the ruins of a fortified factory that stretches over 11 square kilometers (4 square miles) of the city currently owned by Russia.
The crash of Azofustari marks the complete capture of Mariupol, an important milestone in one of the most bloody battles of the war. It will give Russia the greatest victory of the war, both military and diplomatic, after multiple setbacks. The army suffered costly losses, President Vladimir Putin is increasingly isolated internationally, and Finland and Sweden recently announced that they intend to join NATO, which will hit Russian leaders hard. bottom.
Ending the siege of Mariupol could also free Russian troops to fight elsewhere in the industrial center of eastern Ukraine.
But Ukraine sought to turn evacuation into a symbol of its side. He emphasized the role that Azofustari fighters played in boosting Ukraine’s morale and detaining Russian troops that could not be deployed elsewhere.
“Ukraine needs a Ukrainian hero to live. That is our principle,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who began to leave the factory and its tunnels and bunker Warren where the troops were relentlessly bombed. Announced.
“Work keeps taking them home, and it takes delicacy and time,” he said.
It’s not clear what will happen to the fighters — and Russian officials have questioned whether Moscow agrees to hand over all the men in the prisoner exchange.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Mariar said 264 fighters, including 53 “seriously injured” who were taken to medical facilities, were evacuated from the factory. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov gave slightly different numbers: 265 evacuees, 51 of whom were seriously injured. The discrepancy could not be explained immediately.
After sunset on Monday, several buses were pulled away from the factory with Russian military vehicles. The Russian Ministry of Defense video of some evacuees did not show anything armed. In the footage, the army stroked and searched for a fighter. Some were on stretchers when they were on the bus.
Former Ukrainian Secretary of State and Finance Minister Oleksandr Daniluk said that the evacuation by negotiation to Russian-controlled territory was “the only hope” for Azoftari defenders because the Ukrainian army could not release the factory. I told the BBC.
Those who remain in the factory still “can protect it, but I think it’s important to understand that their main mission has been completed and now they need to save their lives.” He said.
A fully negotiated withdrawal could also save the lives of the Russian side and save Russian-backed troops from the difficult, bloody battle to rob Ukrainian rule of labyrinth-like plants. increase.
Danylyuk added that displaced people should be exchanged for Russian prisoners. But Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Russian Parliament, said without evidence that there were “war criminals” among the defenders of the plants.
Russia repeatedly misrepresented the war as a battle with Nazism, and Volodin again imposed the accusation.
Ukrainian official Mariar praised the fighter, but said it was impossible to release the fighter “by military means.”
“The defenders of Mariupol have fully completed all the missions assigned by the commander,” she said.
Former French Vice Admiral Michelle Orhagarai, a former director of the French Center for Higher Military Research, said the crash of Azofustari would be a more symbolic boost to Russia than to the military.
“In fact, Mariupol’s had already fallen, but it wasn’t symbolic because of this incredible resistance,” he said. “Now Putin can claim a’victory’in Donbus,” the eastern part of Ukraine, which is now his focus.
However, Ukraine can also claim that it has taken the lead, as defenders of Azofustari have detained Russian troops.
“Both sides can be proud or bragging about the victory. It’s a different kind of victory,” he said.
After Russia was unable to occupy the capital Kyiv in the early stages of the February 24 invasion, the focus of the battle shifted to Donbus, which also turned into a slogan.
Strikes have occasionally hit other parts of the country. The western city of Lviv was shaken by a big explosion at the beginning of Tuesday. Witnesses counted at least eight blasts with a distant boom. The sky west of the city, which was under the curfew overnight, was illuminated with an orange glow.
Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskyy said the Russian strike targeted railroads and military installations around Yavoriv, west of the city.
The Yavoriu region, just a short drive from the Ukrainian-Polish border, was also the target of previous Russian strikes aimed at slowing the flow of weapons and supplies from Western countries. A Russian strike in March also killed 35 people at the Yarobib military training base.
Howitzers from the United States and other countries helped Kyiv stop or gain ground against Russia, a senior U.S. defense official said, he discussed the U.S. military’s assessment on anonymous terms.
In another setback in Moscow, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed a formal request to join NATO. This is currently sent to Jens Stortemberg, the secretary general of the alliance. Sweden’s move follows a similar decision by neighboring Finland. This is a historic change in countries that have not been coordinated for generations.
Stortemberg states that both accession processes can be expeditious, but NATO member Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has questioned it. He opposed allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO, failing to take a “clear” position against Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara considers to be terrorists, and went to Turkey. He said he had imposed military sanctions.
All of the current 30 NATO member states must agree to involve their Nordic neighbors.
Putin said on Monday that Moscow was “no problem” with Sweden and Finland when applying for NATO, but “expanding military infrastructure to this territory will, of course, provoke our reaction accordingly. Let’s do it. “
McQuillan and Yuras Karmanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Contributed by Mstyslav Chernov and Andrea Rosa of Kharkiv, Elena Becatros of Odesa, and other AP staff around the world.
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Mariupol fighters in Russian hands; both sides claim wins – The Denver Post Source link Mariupol fighters in Russian hands; both sides claim wins – The Denver Post