The first stage of surrender was completed on Monday. 264 soldiers left Azovstal. There are now 53 wounded servicemen in a hospital in Novoazovsk and 211 soldiers in Yelenovka, both of which are part of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Russian sources have estimated that about 2,200 people have been trapped in the basements of the huge Azovstal complex. The site is eleven square kilometres long and its subterranean sections are designed to withstand a nuclear attack.
According to the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Anna Malyar and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, those who surrender will be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war, taken captive by Kiev. However, the terms of the exchange have not yet been decided.
Moscow has not yet made any public statements about an exchange. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side has tried to avoid the use of the expression “surrender”.
After the last Ukrainian soldier leaves Azovstal, the battle for Mariupol will be effectively over and Russia will have gained total control of the strategically vital city.