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On May 16, the main “fortress of the Ukrainian Resistance” fell. Ukrainian militants blockaded at the Azovstal plant in the city of Mariupol raised the white flag and asked for evacuation of the wounded. As a result of the Russian shelling, the members of the Ukrainian nationalist Azov regiment were recently cut off from a water source on the territory of the facility.
The commander of the Vostok Brigade of the DPR Alexander Khodakovsky revealed that first nine Ukrainian servicemen raised a white flag and left the territory of Azovstal. The brigade commander explained that they represented a larger group of militants who asked for surrender. The Russian side agreed to the negotiations.
As a result of negotiations with representatives of Ukrainian servicemen, an agreement was reached on the evacuation of the gravely wounded Ukrainian militants.
Another ceasefire regime has been declared by the Russian military in the area. A humanitarian corridor has been secured for the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian servicemen to a medical facility in the city of Novoazovsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic in order to provide them with the necessary medical assistance.
At the same time, judging by the claims of the Ukrainian officials not only gravely wounded militants have been evacuated.
Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Anna Malyar reported that 53 seriously wounded from Azovstal were taken to the hospital in Novoazovsk, another 221 people were sent to Olenivka. They are expected to be exchanged.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that part of the Ukrainian military surrendered. At the same time, he assured that the work on rescuing the remaining military from Azovstal and their return to the territory controlled by Kiev continues.
On May 17, Russian state media reported that the interrogation of Ukrainian prisoners of war from Azovstal has begun in the village of Elenovka. Among the Ukrainian military who surrendered, 144 people are fighters of the National Guard.
So far, the Russian Ministry of Defence has not confirmed the exchange of the surrendered militants.
According to some unconfirmed reports, the surrender is part of a big prisoner exchange deal.
Kiev reportedly demands that all Ukrainian fighters from Azovstal should be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war.
In turn, the Kremlin reportedly refuses to exchange nazi members of the Azov regiment as they committed numerous war crimes. The exchange of other servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine however can be negotiated.
In this regard, Kiev PR managers have launched new information campaign, in order to shift the emphasis from the Azov regiment to the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, border guards, and police officers blockaded in the Azovstal plant.
Taking into account the Russian reports that the majority of the surrendered militants are not members of the nationalist battalion, this scenario is likely possible.
At the same time, suspicions rise. Some needed Ukrainian nazi fighters can be exchanged under the guise of the ordinary Ukrainian servicemen.
The evacuation showcased the weakness of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion and its lack of resilience, which damaged the prestige of the MSM-promoted formation. However, in practice the Kiev regime is set to wage another propaganda campaign. It is likely to claim that it has managed to convince the “cruel Russians” to evacuate the “brave defenders of the Motherland”. This would play into the hand of war propaganda of Kiev, MSM and NATO against Russia and help the Ukrainian leadership boost the morale of its remaining forces.
Russia’s concessions to the nazi fighters, together with earlier inconsistent actions of Moscow in diplomatic talks with Kiev, undermine the moral and psychological state of members of Russian-led forces involved in the military operation in Ukraine.