Kyiv refrains from commenting: Russians hunt Azov fighters in buses

Kyiv withholds any comments
Russians hunt Azov fighters in buses

For some of the fighters injured in the Mariupol steelworks, the encirclement is probably over: an eyewitness reports that buses are taking soldiers from the Azov regiment to a town under Russian control. However, it is not certain that they are safe there.

In Mariupol, after weeks of siege, Ukrainian soldiers are transported away from the Azovstal steelworks, which is surrounded by Russian units. A Reuters eyewitness saw a dozen buses leaving the huge factory premises. At first it was not possible to determine how many Ukrainian soldiers were on the buses. It was also difficult to know if there were injuries on the buses.

According to Ukrainian information, about 40 wounded soldiers were in the steel plant, and a total of about 600 soldiers were holed up there. The steelworks became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against the Russian occupier.

A commander of the troops trapped in the steel plant explained in a video that he was carrying out orders from high command to save the lives of the soldiers. But he left open what exactly that meant. He did not mention a possible surrender. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow had previously announced that an agreement had been reached on the evacuation of the wounded. They would be taken to Novoazovsk for treatment. The city is controlled by the Russians.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar declined to comment on television so as not to jeopardize the process, she said. “As the process is ongoing, we cannot say what is happening now.”

Wives denounce the torture of prisoners

Meanwhile, four young women of the trapped fighters travel across Europe and seek international help to free them. “We don’t know which country can really help us, so we turn to everyone,” Olha Andrianovna said during the women’s visit to Paris on Sunday. Andrianovna and three other wives of Ukrainian soldiers left Kyiv on April 23 and have so far stopped in Poland, Germany and the Vatican, where Pope Francis received them for a brief audience.

The situation at the steel plant is so critical that “every day counts up to six months or a year,” Andrianovna said. There is no more food in the steelworks and water is also scarce. Fighters had to share a few cups and could only “take a sip every six to eight hours.” Since the bombing of a military hospital in the industrial complex, the soldiers had to be “operated and amputated without anesthesia”.

Svyatoslav Palamar, a commander of the Ukrainian regiment in Azov, recently said that nearly 600 of the 1,000 soldiers trapped had been injured. Surrender is out of the question for the men, their wives reported. Captured members of the Ukrainian Azov regiment were cruelly tortured, Andrianovna said. “Then the Russians sent the photos of the corpses of the tortured to their mothers.”

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