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The Russia-controlled Donetsk administration said over 900 Ukrainian troops surrendered the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a figure much larger than previously reported.
“In total, 962 Ukrainian militants surrendered from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol,” the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Territorial Defense Headquarters said.
The DPR is the official name of the Russia-backed separatist group in Donetsk.
Mixed reports have emerged concerning the number of Ukrainian personnel that were evacuated from the plant upon its surrender, as early estimates put the figure between a few hundred and 1,000, Ukraine‘s military said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed the evacuation of Ukrainian troops during his nightly address Monday, without revealing the exact number of troops who were evacuated.
“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle. I think that every adequate person will understand these words,” Zelenskyy said.
Most of the personnel who were evacuated were sent to Russia-controlled cities, Ukraine’s military said.
“Thanks to the actions of the Ukrainian military – the Armed Forces of Ukraine, intelligence, the negotiating team, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, we hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys. Among them are the seriously wounded, they are being provided with medical aid,” Zelenskyy added.
Those trapped under the Azovstal steel plant included civilians and Ukrainian forces, many severely injured and missing limbs, as Russian forces took the remainder of the city.
Humanitarian corridors were opened for some of the civilians following successful negotiations. Many of the civilians were also taken to Russian-occupied territories.