1,800 Azovstal Fighters Surrender

1,800 Azovstal Fighters Surrender

Photo: http://Reuters.com

Vostok battalion commander Aleksander Khodakovsky reported that Ukrainian servicemen continue to come out of Azovstal and surrender. After the first group surrendered on May 16, the flow of fighters who decided to lay down their arms is now virtually unstoppable.

Thanks to the Russian Defense Ministry, many videos have appeared in the Russian media showing Ukrainian servicemen and fighters of the Azov National Front exiting the Azovstal dungeon.

Some go out on their own, some of them rely on crutches, and the seriously wounded are carried out by their own people on stretchers. Before that, as Dmitri Steshin, a military correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda, reports, Ukrainian sappers are demining the passages that they themselves had previously mined. Some come out in uniform, and some of them carry their things in trunks. Many of them are bandaged. The Azov fighters can be seen wearing Nazi stripes on their sleeves, and they never took them off. In many videos, you can see how, at the request of the Russian military, the prisoners show their documents. Faces look focused but many try not to make eye contact.

After Russian Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin ordered that Azovstal be blockaded instead of storming this heavily fortified factory site, there were lingering days of waiting. The Ukrainian military and Azov fighters had communication via the Internet. They asked Kiev for help as they were still hopeful. Then they started asking for permission to surrender. All of this became known from the intercepted negotiations. However, neither of these things happened.

On May 16, after realizing that they had simply been left to die without food, drinking water or medicine and without any support, the first group of Ukrainian soldiers came out. The Russian side took the prisoners: the seriously wounded were sent to a hospital in Novoazovsk, while the rest were taken to a filtration center in the village of Yelenovka. After that, a chain reaction began.

As of May 19, Khodakovsky said, 1,800 Ukrainian fighters had left Azovstal. “The flow is weakening, but it is not drying up,” he wrote in his Telegram channel.

According to Lenta.ru, DPR Head Denis Pushylin confirmed that more than half of the Ukrainian servicemen who had been hiding there surrendered from the blockaded Azovstal factory in Mariupol. However, Pushilin did not name the exact number of the enemy. On the other hand, VGTRK journalist Aleksandr Sladkov clarified that according to available data, there were more than 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers and Azov fighters in the dungeons on the factory territory before the mass surrender began.

In addition, Khodakovsky said that the “Azov people,” realizing the hopelessness of their situation, “simply did not want to die.” Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated to the world that surrender was nothing more than an “evacuation mission” but this assertion by Zelensky, according to Khodakovsky, is untenable. What kind of “evacuation” can we talk about when people with white flags are leaving the blockaded territory in groups?! Their number is already in the thousands.

Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, as reported by Interfax, said at a press conference on Wednesday, “Those military personnel who were sheltering on the territory of Azovstal, they are laying down their weapons and surrendering.” As for the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, the Kremlin spokesman, answering journalists' questions, clarified that they are not progressing and it is unlikely that their resumption can be linked to the fact that Ukrainian fighters from Azovstal are surrendering.

There are still Ukrainian soldiers and Azov fighters in the dungeons of Azovstal. What decision they will make: to stand to the last man or save their lives and come out with white flags depends only on them. But one thing is clear, the territory of Azovstal, where fierce battles were fought for more than two months, has fallen and is no longer a strategic facility. Thanks to the correct tactics chosen by the Russian military, many lives were saved, both of civilians and of Russian and DPR servicemen.

After Mariupol was almost completely liberated, an active offensive by Russian troops began in other directions as well. As VGTRK military correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny reported, the Russian military and the LNR People's Militia began fighting for Severodonetsk. This city had been a Ukrainian administrative center since 2015, from which the territories of the republic, occupied by units of the AFU and fighters of the National Front, were ruled.

Severodonetsk has important military significance. According to media reports, there is a large fortified industrial area in the city.

Fighting is also taking place near Avdeevka, which is one of the key hubs in the Kiev regime's defense in the Donetsk direction. The DNR People's Militia launched an offensive here a few days ago. According to military correspondent Stanislav Ivashchenko, artillery is destroying up to 20 different targets daily, including enemy manpower, dugouts and fortifications. The head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, earlier said that the AFU forces near Avdeevka were encircled. There is not yet a cauldron here, but, as Pushilin specified, there is an operational encirclement, Ukrainian units no longer have freedom of movement. All important ammunition delivery points have been secured.

After the surrender of Azovstal, Ukrainian militants are demoralized. According to media reports, Ukrainian servicemen began to surrender in small groups in other areas of military operations as well.

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