Siege of Mariupol's Azovstal ends with Ukrainians evacuated

i24NEWS

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Wounded Ukrainian servicemen receive treatment in a bus as they are evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 17.
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via APWounded Ukrainian servicemen receive treatment in a bus as they are evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 17.

Local ceasefire reached between Kyiv and Moscow, with buses allowed to transport combatants from steel plant

Ukrainian fighters ended their weeks, long defense of a besieged steel plant in the strategic port city of Mariupol. 

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Hundreds of soldiers - dozens with serious wounds - were evacuated from the complex, which was a thorn in the side of Russia's operations in the south of Ukraine. Not all of the evacuated fighters appeared to be wounded witnesses said, as reported by The Guardian

After officials reached a ceasefire with the Russian military on Monday, dozens of buses were seen leaving the plant. The complex evacuation operation was coordinated with the help of the United Nations and the international Red Cross.

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The steel plant and its network of underground tunnels had for weeks served as a shelter for some 1,000 fighters. In the complex terrain, Russian forces were unable to dislodge the defenders forcing them to siege them out.

Ukrainian soldiers will be treated in accordance with international norms, the Kremlin said early on Tuesday.

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A spokesperson for the Russian military said that it accepted the surrender of 265 Ukrainian fighters from within Azovstal, with 50 being heavily wounded, The Guardian reported. 

It is unclear what will become of the surrendered fighters, transferred to territory controlled by Russian separatists. Among the Ukrainian servicemen defending the plant were members of the Azov Battalion, accused by Russia of being a fascist organization. 

The ending of the battle of Mariupol is likely to be seen as a much needed victory for Russia, which has made relatively little gains elsewhere in its operations in the Donbas region

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