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MEMBERS of the neonazi Azov Battalion besieged in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol were described as “heroes of our time” by the Ukrainian military today after they finally surrendered to Russian forces.
“Over the past 24 hours, 265 militants have laid down their arms and surrendered, including 51 seriously wounded,” the Russian defence ministry said today.
Soldiers from the notorious far-right militia have been under siege in the steel plant for nearly three months.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed the Ukrainian fighters would be treated “in accordance with international standards.”
The situation however remained unclear as Kiev insisted that a rescue operation was underway with President Volodomyr Zelensky saying early this morning that “Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive.
“To get the boys home, the work goes on, and it takes delicacy and time,” he said in a live televised address.
Ukraine’s armed forces said that commanders of the units based at Azovstal had been ordered to save the lives of wounded soldiers, describing them as “heroes of our time.”
“Measures to rescue defenders who remain on the territory of Azovstal continue,” a statement said.
It is understood that some 53 seriously wounded fighters had been transferred to a Russian-controlled medical facility with another 211 evacuated to another town, slightly different from the Russian claims.
Efforts were reportedly underway to negotiate prisoner-swap deals.
However, some on the ground are saying that any such agreement must only take place once it has been established that they have not been involved in any of the crimes committed by Azov in the region since the 2014 Maidan coup. Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Azov Battalion members should be excluded from prisoner-of-war swaps.
In the west of the country, it was reported that between 10 and 12 Russian cruise missiles had struck a military facility in the Yavoriv district close to the city of Lviv.
The complex was thought to have housed a large shipment of US and Nato weapons. It was previously struck in March with Russia claiming 180 “foreign mercenaries” were killed.
Nato denied having any personnel there insisting its forces had left Ukraine prior to the Russian invasion of February 24.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov branded the air strike a “terrorist attack on peace and security near the EU-Nato border.”
Russian air raids also killed eight people in Chernihiv, Ukrainian authorities reported.
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