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Ukrainian troops surrendering at Mariupol registered as POWs – Press Telegram

By OLEKSANDR STAHEVSKYI and CIARAN McQUILLAN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who surrendered after resisting punitive attacks on the Mariupol steel plant hung on Thursday amid international fears that Russians could retaliate against prisoners .

The International Committee of the Red Cross has collected personal information from hundreds of soldiers – name, date of birth, closest relative – and registered them as prisoners of war, as part of its role in ensuring the humane treatment of prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. .

Amnesty International said in a tweet that Ukrainian soldiers are now prisoners of war and, as such, “should not be subjected to any kind of torture or ill-treatment.”

More than 1,700 defenders of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have surrendered since Monday, Russian authorities said, in what appeared to be the final stage of the nearly three-month siege on the now-pulvered port city.

At least some of the fighters were taken by the Russians to a former penal colony in Moscow-backed separatist-controlled territory. Others were hospitalized, according to a separatist official.

But an undisclosed number remained in the maze of bunkers and tunnels of the expanding plant.

In a brief video message, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment, which was leading the defense of the steel mill, said he and other fighters were still inside.

“An operation is underway, the details of which I will not announce,” Svyatoslav Palamar said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was working to ensure “that the most influential international forces are informed and, as far as possible, involved in the salvation of our troops.”

While Ukraine expressed hope for a prisoner exchange, Russian authorities threatened to investigate and prosecute some of Azovstal’s fighters for war crimes, calling them “Nazis” and criminals.

The Kremlin seized the far-right origins of the Azov Regiment as part of an effort to turn the invasion of Russia into a battle against Nazi influence in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in the first war crimes trial in Ukraine, a captured Russian soldier testified that he shot an unarmed civilian in the head at the behest of an officer, and the officer asked the victim’s widow to pardon him. The soldier pleaded guilty earlier this week, but prosecutors have presented evidence against him under Ukrainian law.

In the Poltava region, two other Russian soldiers appeared in court on Thursday accused of war crimes of bombing civilians. Prosecutors said they both pleaded guilty. The next court hearing in his case has been set for May 26.

In addition, more U.S. aid appeared to be on its way to Ukraine when the Senate overwhelmingly approved a $ 40 billion military and economic aid package for the country and its allies. The House voted on it last week. President Joe Biden’s quick signature was secure.

“Help is on the way, really important help. Help that could make sure the Ukrainians are victorious,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Taking over the Azovstal steel plant would allow Russia to claim full control of Mariupol and achieve such a coveted victory. But it would be a mostly symbolic victory at this time, as the city is already effectively in the hands of Moscow, and analysts say most of the Russian forces that were tied to the battle there have already marched.

Western-backed Kiev-backed troops thwarted Russia’s initial goal of storming the capital, Kiev, and put up strong resistance against Moscow’s forces in the Donbas, the eastern industrial region that President Vladimir Putin plans to capture.

The surprising success of Ukrainian troops has increased the confidence of Kiev.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a Zelensky adviser who took part in several rounds of talks with Russia, said in a tweet addressed to Moscow: “Don’t offer us a ceasefire; this is impossible without the full withdrawal of Russian troops.”

“Until Russia is ready to fully liberate the occupied territories, our negotiating team is weapons, sanctions and money,” he wrote.

However, Russia reiterated its intention to incorporate or at least maintain influence in the areas that its troops took.

Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions this week, much of which has been under Russian control since shortly after the invasion began in February. Russian news agencies cited that the regions could be part of “our Russian family.”

In addition, Volodymyr Balance, the Kremlin-installed head of the Kherson region, appeared in a Telegram video saying that Kherson “will become a subject of the Russian Federation.”

At other events, General Mark Milley, president of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke by telephone with his Russian counterpart for the first time since the war began, and agreed to keep lines of communication open, the Pentagon said. .

On the battlefield, the Ukrainian army said Russian forces had pressed their offensive in several sections of the front on the Donbas, but that they were being repelled. The governor of the Lugansk region said Russian bombings killed four civilians, while separatist authorities in Donetsk said two Ukrainian bombings killed.

Zelenskyy said 12 people were killed and dozens more injured in the town of Severodonetsk, and that attacks in the northeastern Chernihiv region included a heavy attack in the village of Desna, where many more were killed and rescuers were still breaking through.

On the Russian side of the border, the governor of Kursk province said a truck driver was killed by Ukrainian bombing.

At trial for war crimes in Kiev, the sergeant. Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old member of a Russian tank unit, told the court he shot Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian, in the head on the orders of an officer.

Shishimarin said he disobeyed a first order, but felt he had no choice but to comply when another agent repeated it. He said he was told the man could indicate the location of troops to Ukrainian forces.

A prosecutor disputed that Shishimarin acted under orders, saying the direction did not come from a direct commander.

Shishimarin apologized to the victim’s widow, Kateryna Shelipova, who described seeing her husband shot outside her home in the early days of the Russian invasion.

She told the court that she believes Shishimarin deserves a life sentence, as much as possible, but that she would not mind being exchanged as part of an exchange by Azovstal’s defenders.

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McQuillan reported from Lviv. Associated Press journalists Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv and Aamer Madhani in Washington, and other AP officials around the world contributed.

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Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Ukrainian troops surrendering at Mariupol registered as POWs – Press Telegram Source link Ukrainian troops surrendering at Mariupol registered as POWs – Press Telegram

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