Several hundred Ukrainian fighters from the Azov steel plant, which was surrounded for several weeks, surrendered to the Russian army. It is said that several hundred remain in the factory. It is unclear to both groups: what will happen to the fighters? Ukraine wants to save her life, some Russian officials are calling for her to die.
Azov’s steel became a symbol in a matter of weeks. Mutually. Ukraine staged resistance in the besieged factory premises as a sign of the nation’s resistance to the Russian aggression war. And the Kremlin sees the essence of the fight against fascism in the siege. In this alleged struggle, he is trying to justify Ukraine’s attack internationally.
Most of the Stahlwerk fighters belong to the Azov Regiment
In fact, most of the fighting Ukrainians are recruited from the controversial Azov regiment. It was founded in 2014 by the well-known right-wing extremist Andrius Bilezky and still maintains contacts with his right-wing extremist party, the National Corps. The subject of debate is how much the regiment of right-wing extremists has permeated to this day. Ukrainian Ambassador Andrius Melnyk is a supporter of unity. But he also worships Nazi collaborator Stepan Bander.
One thing is clear: Russia’s propaganda that the entire Ukrainian state is a “Nazi state” is outraged. Quite apart from right mercenaries in their ranks. For Azov fighters, however, the connection with the environment of right-wing extremists seems to be an obstacle. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that the exchange of prisoners is aimed at rescuing Russian prisoners of war. And those left in the steel plant should also be saved – somehow.
The Kremlin and the Duma oppose the exchange of prisoners
Exchanging prisoners can be difficult. Russia’s Speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, has now said: “Nazi criminals should not be exchanged, but a court-martial. Representatives of the Kremlin have been demanding this for weeks, recalling the Nuremberg Trials, which once held those responsible for Hitler’s regime.
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Liberal Democrat leader Leonid Sluck even wants to lift the moratorium on the death penalty. The detained Ukrainian fighters will then face an absolute maximum sentence. Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has also asked the Supreme Court to classify the Azov regiment as a terrorist group.
The Red Cross and the UN helped negotiate
At first it seemed like quite a co-operation negotiation. First, the Marines and Azov fighters called for safe behavior. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN representatives apparently acted as mediators at the time. About 260 fighters, including about 50 wounded, were taken prisoner in Russia on Tuesday and taken to a nearby clinic in pro-Russian territory.
Yesterday, the Kremlin even spoke of 959 Ukrainians who surrendered in Mariupol, including 80 wounded. Only 700 would have occurred in the last 24 hours. Ukraine did not initially confirm these figures.
How many fighters are still on the factory premises is unclear. According to various estimates, there were between 1,000 and 2,500 of them before the evacuation mission began. The last civilians had already been brought to security about a week and a half ago.
President Zelenky emphasized that they wanted to “bring our boys home”.