Thu | Aug 18, 2022

Ukrainian troops surrendering at Mariupol registered as POWs

Published:Friday | May 20, 2022 | 12:12 AM
In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defence Ministry yesterday Thursday, shows Ukrainian servicemen as they leave the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, easter
In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defence Ministry yesterday Thursday, shows Ukrainian servicemen as they leave the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine.

KYIV (AP):

The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who surrendered after holding out against punishing attacks on Mariupol’s steel factory hung in the balance Thursday amid international fears that the Russians may take reprisals against the prisoners.

The International Committee of the Red Cross gathered personal information from hundreds of the 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 POWs under the Geneva Conventions.

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

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

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

But an undisclosed number remained in the warren of bunkers and tunnels in the sprawling plant.

In a brief video message, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, which led the defence of the steel mill, said he and other fighters were still inside.

“An operation is under way, 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 much as possible, involved in saving our troops”.

While Ukraine expressed hope for a prisoner exchange, Russian authorities have threatened to investigate some of the Azovstal fighters for war crimes and put them on trial, branding them “Nazis” and criminals.