Russia has been accused of “double-crossing” Ukraine over a deal to release fighters trapped by the Azovstal metallurgical plant
- Moscow has agreed to exchange hundreds of troops of the Azov Regiment.
- Troops stationed at the Azovstal metallurgical plant were to be exchanged for prisoners
- But the Russian parliament has said it will vote to prevent the exchange of “Nazi war criminals.”
- Minister of Ukraine Anna Malyar called these threats “internal propaganda”
Russia has been accused of double-crossing Ukraine when officials withdrew from an agreement to release captured troops from the Azovstal metallurgical plant.
Earlier this week, Moscow agreed to exchange hundreds of troops of the Azov Regiment, a Ukrainian unit hiding at a Soviet-era steel plant, as part of an exchange of prisoners.
However, the Russian parliament has announced that it will vote today on a resolution “preventing the exchange of Nazi war criminals”, with some members calling for the execution of Azov troops.
Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Anna Malyar dismissed the threats as “internal propaganda”, adding that “the exchange procedure will take place”, as Kyiv will leave the metallurgical plant in more than 80 days.
But experts have described the move as “undercover” and say it could thwart Ukraine’s attempt to free 600 troops, some of whom are still at the plant in Mariupol.
At least 250 Azov fighters were evacuated on Monday, some of them seriously injured.
Seven buses with an unknown number of Ukrainian servicemen left the plant last night.
Searched: yesterday the Russian military surveyed Ukrainian soldiers during the evacuation from the metallurgical plant “Azovstal” (Photo taken from a video published by the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry)
A column of pro-Russian troops escorting buses carrying Ukrainian troops from the blockaded Azovstal metallurgical plant leaves on Monday during the Ukrainian-Russian conflict in Mariupol.
Tyrant “micro-governing army”
Vladimir Putin is making low-level tactical decisions echoing the demise of Nazi Germany, Western military sources say.
It is said that the president of Russia dictates the main movements, which are usually decided by officers who lead only 700 soldiers.
Next to him is Senior General Valery Gerasimov.
They are “involved in making tactical decisions at a level we normally expect to be taken by a colonel or foreman,” a source told The Times.
During World War II, Adolf Hitler insisted on consultations on the details of the movement of his troops.
Historians believe that this contributed to the failed German invasion of Russia and the eventual collapse of the Nazi troops.
But they all remain in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory. Russian Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin insisted that Azov members should be excluded from any prisoner exchange deal.
He added: “They are war criminals and we must do everything to bring them to justice.”
According to the website of the Russian parliament, he instructed the Committee on Defense and Security to prepare relevant legislation.
His counterpart, Leonid Slutsky, a Russian negotiator in suspended peace talks with Ukraine, called the evacuees “animals in human form” and called for them to be tried and executed.
“They do not deserve to live after the horrific crimes against humanity that they have committed and that are continuously committed against our prisoners,” the politician added.
In a statement issued late in the evening, Russian investigators promised to interrogate Ukrainian fighters to identify them and “verify their involvement in crimes against civilians.”
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed that surrendering fighters would be treated “in accordance with international standards.”
Vladislav Davidson, an expert on Russia at the Atlantic Council think tank, said: “A change in the law introduced by Russian lawmakers could disrupt any exchange of prisoners.
It shows how indecent Putin and his friends are in the way they are waging war. ”
Most of the plant’s civilians have been released in the last few weeks after the UN and the Red Cross signed an agreement with Russia and Ukraine.
Those who got out spoke of poor conditions in bunkers with a lack of sunlight, food and proper medicine.
Went for security? Azov fighters, who were hoping to be released as a result of an exchange of prisoners, were taken by bus from the blockade plant (this photo is taken from a video published by the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry)
Some even lost their teeth due to hunger or stress as Moscow troops continued to hit the area with missiles and bombs.
The Azovstal plant is a four-square-mile complex that includes a maze of tunnels and bunkers designed to withstand a nuclear explosion.
For more than two months he was held by the Azov Regiment – and they became national heroes, forced into a desperate last struggle.
The unit was established in 2014 as a far-right volunteer militia to fight Russian-backed separatists who have taken control of part of the Donbass.
Basically the Russian-speaking industrial center of Eastern Ukraine, Russia says it wants to put an end to the Ukrainian government and claim the region as its own.
Tensions between Kyiv and Moscow are growing next week, when Russian judges will decide whether to classify the Azov Regiment as a “terrorist organization.”
The trial in the Supreme Court is scheduled for May 26.