Russia says nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters have surrendered in Mariupol – National

Russia said on Wednesday nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in Mariupol, but kyiv was silent on their fate, while a pro-Russian separatist leader said the commanders were still hiding in tunnels under the giant Azovstal steelworks.

More than a day after kyiv announced that it had ordered its garrison in Mariupol to withdraw, the outcome of Europe’s bloodiest battle in decades remained unresolved. Ukrainian officials stopped all public discussion about the fate of the fighters who had last held there.

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Mariupol defenders begin to surrender as Ukraine declares them ‘heroes’

“The state is making maximum efforts to carry out the rescue of our military. Let’s hope. Currently, the most important thing is to save the lives of our heroes,” military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzaynik told a news conference. “Any information to the public could jeopardize that process.”

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The Russian Defense Ministry said 694 more fighters had surrendered overnight, bringing the total number of people who had laid down their arms to 959. The leader of the pro-Russian separatists who control the area, Denis Pushilin, was quoted by the local news agency DNA. as if to say that the main commanders were still inside the plant.

Ukrainian officials had confirmed the surrender of more than 250 fighters on Tuesday. But they did not say how many more were inside or what might become of them.

“Unfortunately, the issue is very sensitive and there is a very fragile set of talks today, therefore I cannot say anything more,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said. He said that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Red Cross and the United Nations were involved in the talks, but he did not elaborate.


Click to play video: 'Destruction exposed in the center of Mariupol'







The destruction exposed in the center of Mariupol


The destruction exposed in the center of Mariupol

Negotiations over the surrender of Mariupol came as Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO, prompting the very expansion that Russian President Vladimir Putin has long cited as one of his main reasons for launching “Operation Nato”. special military” in February.

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Mariupol’s final surrender would close off a nearly three-month siege of the once-thriving city of more than 400,000 people, where Ukraine says tens of thousands of civilians have been killed under Russian bombardment.

Ukrainian officials have spoken of hoping to organize a prisoner swap for Mariupol defenders they describe as national heroes. Moscow says no such deal was made for the fighters, many of them from a unit with far-right origins, which it calls Nazis.

Russia says more than 50 wounded fighters have been taken to a hospital for treatment, and others have been taken to a recently reopened prison, both in cities controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Reuters journalists have filmed buses carrying some captured fighters to both locations.

The Kremlin says that Putin has personally guaranteed the humane treatment of those who surrender. Other high-profile Russian politicians have publicly called for them never to be traded, or even executed.

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Fighters leave the steel plant as Mariupol looks set to fall

FINLAND AND SWEDEN APPLY TO NATO

The ambassadors of Sweden and Finland handed over their NATO application letters at a ceremony at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

“This is a historic moment that we must seize,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

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Turkey has surprised its allies in recent days by saying it will block Nordic members from joining unless they do more to crack down on Kurdish militants on its soil. Stoltenberg said he thought the problem could be overcome, and Washington also said he hopes it will be resolved.

Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810 mile) border with Russia, and Sweden were militarily non-aligned during the Cold War, and their decision to join the alliance represents the biggest change in European security in decades. It will more than double the alliance’s land border with Russia and give NATO control of almost the entire Baltic Sea coast.


Click to play video: 'Dozens more escape Mariupol steel plant under Russian assault'







Dozens More Escape Mariupol Steel Plant Under Russian Attack


Dozens More Escape Mariupol Steel Plant Under Russian Assault – May 6, 2022

After weeks in which Russia threatened to retaliate against the plans, Putin appeared to slump this week, saying in a speech Monday that Russia had “no problems” with either Finland or Sweden, and that its NATO membership was not it would be a problem unless the alliance sent more troops or weapons there.

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Despite the war and sanctions, Russia remains the main source of energy for Europe. European countries are under pressure to cut back on trade, Moscow’s biggest source of funds.

The EU’s executive European Commission on Wednesday unveiled a €210 billion plan for Europe to end its dependence on Russian oil, gas and coal by 2027, including plans to more than double power capacity. EU renewable by 2030.

In another sign of Russia’s isolation, Moscow on Wednesday expelled 85 diplomats from France, Spain and Italy, in retaliation for sending home a similar number of Russians. European nations have collectively expelled more than 300 Russian diplomats since the February 24 invasion.

Google became the latest major Western country to pull out of Russia, saying its Russian unit had declared bankruptcy and was forced to close operations after its bank accounts were seized.

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Ukraine to evacuate remaining troops from Mariupol, ceding control of the besieged city

VICTORY

The surrender of the steel plant in Mariupol would allow Putin to claim a rare victory in a campaign that has otherwise failed. In recent weeks, Russian forces have abandoned the area around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, withdrawing at their fastest pace since they were pushed out from the north and around kyiv in late March. .

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However, Moscow has continued to press its main offensive, trying to capture more territory in the Donbass region of southeastern Ukraine, which it claims on behalf of separatists it has supported since 2014.

Mariupol, the main port of Donbas, is the largest city Russia has captured so far, giving Moscow full control of the Sea of ​​Azov and an unbroken swath of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine. The siege was Europe’s deadliest battle since at least the wars in Chechnya and the Balkans of the 1990s.

The city’s months of resistance became a global emblem of Ukraine’s refusal to give in to a much better-armed enemy, while its near-total destruction demonstrated Russia’s tactic of raining fire on population centers.

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