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Wounded Ukrainian servicemen to leave Azovstal


Russia says it has agreed to allow wounded Ukrainian soldiers to be moved from bunkers under the blockade of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol to a medical facility in the Russian-controlled city of Novoazovsk.

“An agreement has been reached to evacuate the wounded,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“An open humanitarian corridor through which the wounded Ukrainian servicemen are taken to the Novoazovsk medical institution.”

Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Anna Malyar told Ukrainian television: “Any information can harm the processes that are happening … Because the process is going on, we can not say what is happening now.”

While Russian troops beat Mariupol for nearly two months, some civilians and Ukrainian fighters sought refuge at the Azovstal plant, a huge Soviet-era plant founded under Joseph Stalin and designed with a maze of bunkers and tunnels to withstand attacks.

Most civilians were allowed to leave the plant this month after the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross signed an agreement with Russia and Ukraine.

But Ukrainian fighters of the Azov Battalion, a militia created by Ukrainian ultranationalists in 2014 and later included in the National Guard of Ukraine, remain at the plant.

Videos and photos posted online show some with serious injuries.

Relatives on Monday appealed to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul to help pull out the defenders.

Natallia Zarytskaya, the wife of a member of the Azov battalion, told journalists: “The ring around Azov has tightened. We can no longer procrastinate. We have high hopes and believe that the joint efforts of Turkey through its President Erdogan and China, through its President Xi Jinping and God himself, can save Azovstal and the people on the brink of death.

“They’re in hell. They get new wounds every day. They are without legs and arms, exhausted, without drugs. “

A senior armed commander who hid under a steel plant said he was following a decree of the military high command to save the lives of servicemen, but did not mention the surrender.

“The main thing is to be aware of all the risks, is there a plan B, or are you completely committed to a plan that should allow you to fulfill the tasks and save the lives and health of staff?” This was announced by Commander Denis Prokopenko in a video posted on social networks.

“This is the highest level of oversight of troops. Especially if your decision is approved by the highest military command.”

Bright white munitions were spotted at metallurgical plants on Sunday, which, according to a British military expert, looked like an attack using phosphorus or other incendiary weapons.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to reject Russia’s objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, saying the Kremlin had no problem getting them to join the military alliance they are now seeking to join in response. invasion of Ukraine.

Putin said Russia would take action if NATO transferred more troops or equipment to its new members, steps Finland and Sweden have already ruled out, but NATO enlargement itself does not pose a threat.

“As for enlargement, including new members, Finland and Sweden, Russia has no problems with these states – no. And in this sense, there is no immediate threat to Russia from expanding the inclusion of these countries,” Putin said.

“Expanding the military infrastructure to this area would definitely provoke our response. What will be the (answer) – let’s see what threats they pose to us, “- said Putin.

“Problems arise for no reason. We will respond accordingly. “

Finland and Sweden, which did not join during the Cold War, say they now want the protection offered by the NATO treaty, according to which an attack on any member is an attack on everyone.

“We are leaving one era behind and entering a new one,” said Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson, announcing plans to officially renounce non-aligned military status, which has been a cornerstone of Swedish identity for more than 200 years.

“NATO will strengthen Sweden, Sweden will strengthen NATO,” she said.

Swedish and Finnish officials have said Putin blames himself for their decision to join NATO.

The invasion of Ukraine, which is now almost three months old, has so far been a military disaster for Russia, with its troops driven out of the north and the outskirts of Kiev in late March.


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