Sunday, June 26, 2022

Russia says 959 Ukrainian fighters surrendered from Azovstal

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Russia said on Wednesday that a total of 959 Ukrainian fighters, including 80 wounded, had surrendered from the bunkers and tunnels below Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks since Monday.

The defence ministry said 694 Ukrainian fighters – including members of the Azov regiment – had surrendered in the past 24 hours, including 29 wounded.

In the latest update on what Moscow calls its special military operation, the ministry said Russia also struck eastern Ukraine with missiles in the Soledar area of the Donetsk region.

Russia also hit foreign mercenaries, destroyed Ukrainian Su-24 aircraft, Ukrainian arsenals and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, the ministry said.

Russia struck 76 control points and 421 troop and artillery points, including 147 artillery and mortar, with missiles and artillery, the ministry said.

It hit a Ukrainian battery of 155-mm M777 howitzers manufactured by the United States, the ministry said.

Azov Regiment

The Azov Regiment began as one of many militias of volunteer fighters who banded together to fight pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow who carved out two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

Mariupol is the home of the Azov Regiment which it helped Ukraine recapture from pro-Russian fighters in 2014 and where it had a permanent base until the 2022 invasion.

The militia emerged from Andriy Biletskiy’s Patriot of Ukraine organisation that critics say championed white nationalist, anti-immigrant extreme-right ideas.

Its logo resembles a black “wolfsangel”, a symbol that was used by some Nazi units and is seen by critics as neo-Nazi. The Azov say the logo represents the letters N and I of “national idea” and deny it is neo-Nazi.

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