Surrender of Azov* militants shrouded in mystery

There is some mystery surrounding the surrender of Azov* militants in Mariupol.

"A corporate decision has been made not to comment on the surrender of Azov* fighters,” military correspondent Alexander Sladkov said. According to him, there are "many interesting moments" in how the surrender was arranged.

"Respectable people took part, among other things, in prisoner exchange,” he said.

According to the military correspondent, there are over 2,500 militants at Azovstal, of which 804 are members of the Azov* battalion.

Ukraine does not comment much on the surrender of its fighters at Azovstal either. The only difference is that Ukrainian officials call it evacuation rather than surrender. Obviously, this is far from being any sort of evacuation as the militants were transported to Russia, rather than to the rear of Ukrainian positions.

"The situation is too fragile, so the authorities have decided not to comment on it," Aleksey Arestovich, Volodymyr Zelensky's press secretary said on Monday.

For his part, Zelensky said in his video address that the evacuation mission was being managed by Ukrainian military and intelligence officers.

"Most influential international mediators have been involved," Zelensky said.

The message of the Kyiv regime is about an agreement on the exchange of Azov* fighters for Russian POWs. However, in an interview with The New York Times, Golos MP Kira Rudik said that there were no such agreements.

The Duma unwilling to exchange Nazis

However, Russia does not like the idea to exchange Azov* fighters for Russian prisoners of war. Russian MP Anatoly Wasserman said that an exchange of "even one single" criminals would be declared a victory for Ukraine in the West. He suggested passing a regulation or even a law that would prohibit such an exchange. State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that Nazis "should not be exchanged."

"We must do everything to bring them to justice," the Speaker of the Russian Parliament said.

In the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), they also decided to entrust the fate of the surrendered fighters to the court (Mariupol is located on the territory of the republic).

"It will be up to the court to decide the fate of the surrendered militants from Azovstal. The Nazis will face international tribunal," the head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin said.

The scenario of dealing with Azov* is a secret

Sergei Markelov, a political adviser and strategist, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that Azov* was a symbol of war.

"Azov* has found itself to be in the centre of the fighting on all fronts — informational, propaganda, military, economic. Russia is trying to elaborate a certain political significance of this phenomenon and keeps it all a secret to avoid misinterpretations," Sergei Markelov told Pravda.Ru.

The Duma (the parliament — ed.) got involved because "they want to recognise all Azov* militants and defense forces who were staying there as terrorists, and the Azov* battalion itself should be recognised as a terrorist organization."

"If Russia decides to recognise the Azov* Battalion as a terrorist group, there will be one package of further actions — an international court. If they decide that those young Ukrainian guys fell victims to Ukrainian propaganda, then there will be another scenario prepared," Markelov said.

When asked which of the "respectable people" could be behind the organization of the surrender, the expert noted that the list of such people could be extensive.

"For example, there's the UN Secretary General, presidents — Macron, Erdogan, Jewish leaders, Ukrainian leaders, church leaders."

The surrender of Azov* fighters and military men of the Armed Forces of Ukraine marks an important victory for Russia, because:

  • the militants will become a political problem for the Ukrainian authorities as the fighters will expose many "nuances" of the war in Donbass;
  • it will have an impact on the morale of other Ukrainian military units;
  • it will release the troops of the Russian Federation and allied armies for further operations in the Donbass.

*extremist organization, banned in Russia

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Azovstal militants surrender
Author`s name Editorial Team
Editor Dmitry Sudakov
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