Ukraine, 960 Soldiers at Mariupol Azovstal Steelworks Surrender

Ukraine, 960 Soldiers at Mariupol Azovstal Steelworks Surrender

 The Russian Foreign Ministry said hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol since May 16 have been sent to a pretrial detention center. The ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said a total of 959 Ukrainian soldiers, including 51 with serious injuries, had surrendered over two days. He reiterated that those injured had received treatment at the hospital in Novoazovsk in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). Others were sent to a pre-trial detention center in Olenivka, a town near the front but in territory controlled by the DPR. The Ukrainian side has not provided an update on the number of soldiers who have left Azovstal or the status of negotiations for their exchange with Russian prisoners. 

However, Amnesty International said Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the steel mill should not be treated badly and should receive direct access to the International Red Cross. "Relevant authorities must fully respect the rights of prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva conventions," said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty's deputy director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. A civilian was killed and several people injured in a Ukrainian attack in Russia's western region of Kursk on Thursday morning, regional governor Roman Starovoit said.

The attack hit an ethanol plant in the village of Tyotkino and several houses were affected, Starovoit said on Telegram. Tyotkino is located 2.4 kilometers from the Ukraine-Russia border. Both sides of the border between the Kursk and Ukraine have seen intermittent artillery strikes this month. The Ukrainian military reported that Russian troops trying to break into Sloviansk, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, had suffered losses and withdrew Thursday (19/5/2022). Despite artillery and missile attacks by Russian forces on a broad front over the past 24 hours, there is no sign of them having taken new territory. "The enemy carried out fighting activity in the Velyka Komyshuvakha area with artillery support; unsuccessfully, suffered significant losses in some areas and was forced to retreat to previously occupied positions," the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in its daily update. 

There has been fighting in the Velyka Komyshuvakha area since late April, since the Russians took Izium and tried to push towards Sloviansk, but the front line has not changed much. On another major front, in the part of the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control, Russian aircraft have struck several villages, according to the General Staff. Ukrainian defenses held out around the industrial city of Severodonetsk, and Russian offensive operations in the Zolote area were unsuccessful, he said. Serhii Hayday, head of the Luhansk military administration, said Severodonetsk suffered the most in the latest attack, in which four civilians were killed on Wednesday. Meanwhile, other regions also reported Russian artillery and missile strikes overnight. 

In the Dnipropetrovsk region to the south, the city's military administration in Kryvih Rih said there was enemy fire along the line of contact during the night. It said there had been heavy shelling in the residential area of   Velyka Kostromka, a town located about 32 kilometers south of Kryvih Rih that has been on the front line for more than a month. President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with the leaders of Finland and Sweden as part of US support after the two countries proposed to join NATO. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday that a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinist√∂ and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Washington would allow the three countries to coordinate on the way forward and compare notes on the way. Sweden and Finland's proposals to join NATO come in response to Russia's war in Ukraine, which has sparked security concerns across the region. 

Their proposal to join the alliance marked a dramatic evolution in European security and geopolitics.
The NATO alliance does not expect significant gains for either side of the battlefield in Ukraine in the coming weeks, said a NATO military official with intelligence knowledge. "I think we're going to be stuck for a while," the official said. According to the official, the current NATO discussion is that the momentum has shifted significantly in favor of Ukraine and the debate within NATO is now about whether it is possible for Kyiv to retake Crimea and the Donbas region captured by Russia and the Russian-backed separatists. "I think they can [recapture Crimea and Donbas], yes. Not now, not soon, but if they can keep fighting, I think so," the official said. "I question whether they really have to fight to get their territory back," referring to the potential backlash by local residents in some of those areas.

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