The remaining Ukrainian troops holed up in the beleaguered Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have been ordered by kyiv to stop the fighting, a commander of a battalion leading the trapped units said on Friday. “The higher military command gave the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and to stop defending the city,” Denys Prokopenko said in a video on Telegram.
An “ongoing process” was underway to remove the slain fighters from the factory, he added. The soldiers, stuck in the giant steelworks for weeks, have become a symbol of Ukraine’s fierce resistance to the Russian invasion.
The comments came as Moscow said 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers trapped at the factory have surrendered since Monday. Prokopenko said the priority now was to transfer the dead from the factory.
“We have always insisted on three of the most important conditions for us: civilians, the wounded and the dead,” he said. Civilians were evacuated from the plant’s underground tunnels by a UN-led operation and Prokopenko said injured fighters had received help.
He said only “slain heroes” remain. “I now hope that soon the families and all of Ukraine can bury their fighters with honors,” he said.
Ukraine hopes to exchange the soldiers from Azovstal, now in the hands of Moscow, for Russian prisoners.
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