Kiev Asks Moscow to Swap Ukrainian Soldiers From Azovstal for Russian POWs
© Sputnik / Alexey KudenkoView of the metallurgical plant "Azovstal" in Mariupol.
© Sputnik / Alexey Kudenko/
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Ukraine has proposed to Russia to swap Ukrainian soldiers pinned at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol for captured Russians, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday.
"We have proposed to the Russians the following swap: we evacuate our boys from Azovtsal via a humanitarian corridor. In exchange, we give back captured Russians under the standard rules of prisoners of war exchange. There has been no agreement at the moment. The talks are ongoing," Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram.
At the time of the proclamation of the Donetsk People's Republic in 2014, Mariupol, with a population of about 450,000 people, was the second city of the republic after Donetsk, but in June of the same year, Ukrainian security forces regained control of the city.
On February 24, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian forces.
On March 7, twelve days after the launch of Moscow's military operation, forces of the Donetsk People's Republic surrounded Mariupol and began a liberation campaign, with the remaining fighters of the Ukrainian nationalist Azov battalion holing up in the underground tunnels of the Azovstal plant.
On April 16, the Russian Defense Ministry's spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, announced that the entire city territory had been cleared of the Ukrainian military, foreign mercenaries and neo-Nazis from the Azov battalion.
The Russian military regularly announces the opening of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant. During the corridors opening, the Russian army and the military of the DPR "unilaterally cease any military operations, the units are withdrawn to a safe distance and ensure the withdrawal of civilians in any direction they choose, both to the territory of Russia and to areas controlled by the Kiev authorities."
Earlier, the top Russian military official said that thanks to the measures of Moscow and with the participation of the UN and the ICRC, a humanitarian operation to evacuate civilians from Azovstal was completed on Saturday. Some 51 people were saved, including 11 children.