Ukraine's Steel Plant Soldiers Surrender As Russian Soldier Says Sorry

Russia-Ukraine War: The Russian defence ministry released a video appearing to show exhausted Ukrainian soldiers trudging out of the steelworks, after a weeks-long siege forced the defenders and civilians to huddle in tunnels.

Ukraine's Steel Plant Soldiers Surrender As Russian Soldier Says Sorry

Ukraine War: Ukraine is hoping to exchange the Azovstal soldiers for Russian prisoners.

Kyiv, Ukraine:

Russia said Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered this week at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, showing some emerging on crutches after a desperate battle that has become emblematic of the nearly three-month-old war.

The number included 80 who were wounded and taken to a hospital in Russia-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, the defence ministry in Moscow said.

The ministry released a video appearing to show exhausted Ukrainian soldiers trudging out of the sprawling steelworks, after a weeks-long siege forced the defenders and civilians to huddle in tunnels with dire shortages of food, water and medicine.

Russian troops patted down those surrendering and inspected their bags as they exited, signalling the effective end of what Ukraine's government had called a "heroic" resistance.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had registered "hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war" from the plant in Mariupol, a port city obliterated by Russian shelling.

Ukraine is hoping to exchange the Azovstal soldiers for Russian prisoners. But pro-Russian authorities in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region suggested that some of them could be put on trial.

Ukrainian prosecutors have so far listed 12,595 alleged war crimes by the invaders, including the bombing of a maternity ward in Mariupol, and on Wednesday opened the first trial of a Russian soldier.

Please Forgive Me

Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to a war crime in shooting dead Oleksandr Shelipov, an unarmed 62-year-old man, in northeastern Ukraine on February 28 -- four days into the invasion.

The 21-year-old sergeant, who faces a life sentence, was remorseful as he took the dock for a second day on Thursday, as two other Russian soldiers went on trial elsewhere in Ukraine.

"I know that you will not be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness," Shishimarin said, addressing Shelipov's widow in the cramped courtroom in Kyiv.

While Mariupol has fallen, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the wider invasion was an "absolute failure" as he marked "Vyshyvanka Day", an annual celebration of Ukrainian folk traditions.

Wearing an embroidered shirt instead of his usual military khaki top, Zelensky said on the Telegram social media platform that his people remained "strong, unbreakable, brave and free".

Zelensky's defiance, and his army's dogged resistance, have earned the West's admiration and a steady flow of military support. G7 finance ministers were meeting in Germany to thrash out more cash support.

G7 partners have to "assure Ukraine's solvency within the next days, few weeks", German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told the newspaper Die Welt.

But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there could be "no shortcuts" to membership of the European Union for Ukraine. Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the "second-class treatment" of his country.

Famine Warning

Russia's actions are already redrawing the security map of Europe.

US President Joe Biden hosted the leaders of Finland and Sweden to discuss their bids to join NATO, after the neighbouring nations decided to abandon decades of military non-alignment.

"They meet every NATO requirement and then some," Biden told reporters with the Nordic leaders at his side, offering the "full, total, complete backing of the United States of America".

However, NATO member Turkey is "determined" to block the applications, its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, calling Sweden in particular a "complete terror haven".

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was "addressing the concerns that Turkey has expressed".

Beyond Europe, the invasion also threatens to bring famine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

"Malnutrition, mass hunger and famine" could follow "in a crisis that could last for years," Guterres warned, urging Russia to release grain exports from occupied Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine produce 30 percent of the global wheat supply, and the war has already sent food prices surging around the world.

Civilians Under Fire

Despite their last-ditch resistance in places such as Mariupol, and the successful defence of Kyiv, Ukrainian forces are retreating in the east.

The losses often come after weeks of battles over towns and small cities that are pulverised by the time the Russians surround them in a slow-moving wave.

In the eastern city of Severodonetsk, Ukrainian civilians are bearing the brunt of incessant Russian mortar fire.

Nella Kashkina sat in the basement next to an oil lamp and prayed.

"I do not know how long we can last," the 65-year-old former city worker said.

"We have no medicine left and a lot of sick people -- sick women -- need medicine. There is simply no medicine left at all."

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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