Azovstal steel works: remaining soldiers captured

According to Russian sources, the last Ukrainian soldiers who fought until last week against the capture of the strategically important port city of Mariupol have left the Azovstal steel works and are now in Russian hands. The Ukrainian military leadership hopes for a prisoner exchange. Russian media in exile discuss their fate.

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Novaya Gazeta Europe (RU) /

Russian inflating prisoner numbers

It's not even clear how many survivors there are, Novaya Gazeta Europa's Ukraine correspondent Olga Musafirova points out:

“The Russian side talks of 2,439 prisoners of war, the International Red Cross, under whose aegis the trial took place, only of 'hundreds' of registered Ukrainian fighters. The Institute for the Study of War suspects that the Russians are deliberately inflating the numbers so that they can get back as many of their own prisoners as possible in exchange without having to lose face by admitting that it was only a handful of fighters who held out against 17 tactical battalion groups for almost three months. Now another battle over the fate of Azov's prisoners of war is imminent.”

The New Times (RU) /

Kremlin wants death sentences against "Nazis"

The New Times expects show trials:

“There will be trials on the territory of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic, since [for Russia] this is formally an independent state and the Russian moratorium on the death penalty does not apply there. Russia will present the world with any evidence of Ukrainian war crimes it can manage to scrape together. Then if in these trials the so-called Nazis of the Azov Battalion receive death sentences, Putin will show his unique mercy and pardon some members to secure an exchange of prisoners. Some may already have been swapped on the quiet, but some will be given a show trial, otherwise it would have been pointless to make the Azov steel works the symbol of global Nazism and milk the issue as consistently as the Kremlin has done.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

A victory for Moscow - but war not yet over

The soldiers can hardly hope for merciful treatment from Russia, De Telegraaf fears:

“The Kremlin was quick to declare that the soldiers should be treated 'humanely'. ... But anyone who sees the ruins of Mariupol and the pile of scrap metal that the mighty steel plant has become can have little hope that the Russians, who reportedly violated human rights on a massive scale in the port city, will stick to the agreements. ... The late fall of Mariupol is a boost for Moscow, but Kyiv has also gained new hope after reconquering territory near Kharkiv. The bloody chapter of Mariupol is closed, but the book 'The Invasion of Ukraine' is not over yet.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Get real and start negotiating

El Periódico de Catalunya sees no fundamental change in the overall picture:

“The fact that Russia has gained control of the coast of the Sea of Azov should not prevent both sides from getting realistic and initiating negotiations. ... For the West this outcome must not remain without consequences. Its enormous aid is having an effect, but there are no signs that Russia will be defeated. ... When French President Emmanuel Macron says that the Ukrainian regime should perhaps start thinking about what territorial concessions it is willing to accept, he is only drawing logical conclusions from the objective facts of the crisis.” (UA) /

Azov's fighting spirit for all Ukrainian soldiers

Writing in, Yuri Butusov, editor-in-chief of, would like to see the Azov Batallion - until now subordinate to the National Guard - put in charge of the Ukrainian army:

“I believe that the military leadership should create an Azov Assault Brigade as part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, so as to honour their great services to the Ukrainian people. All the principles on which Azov's phenomenal combat efficiency is based - their nationalist ideology and the ideas of the OUN [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists], the Nato system of command and combat, the non-commissioned-officer's school, the officer training courses, the high motivation and initiative of the fighters - could be integrated into the army to bring our victory closer.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Hollywood material

For Die Welt, the defenders of Mariupol are heroes:

“Many sacrificed their lives with their admirable resistance in the face of Russia's superiority. And even when it had long been clear that they could only lose this battle in the long run, they held on. If it no longer seemed that there was a hope of preventing the city from being taken by Russia, they at least wanted to tie down Russian forces in Mariupol so as to enable Ukraine to hold the front elsewhere against Moscow's new offensive in the east. The defensive battle of Mariupol is the stuff of bestsellers and Hollywood movies.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

New heroes can foster Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation

Gazeta Wyborcza hopes that the Polish-Ukrainian dispute over the historical assessment of Ukrainian national heroes will now be put to rest:

“Over the years in our discussions with the Ukrainians, we've asked again and again why they call people like Stepan Bandera or General Roman Shukhevych World War II war heroes. Shukhevych was in fact the perpetrator of the massacre in Volhynia [an ethnic cleansing of Polish civilians by Ukrainian UPA partisans]. ... Ukrainians responded that they have no historical heroes other than Bandera and Shukhevych. Now Ukraine has new national heroes. Since 2014 the defenders of Donetsk airport and pilot Nadiya Savchenko. ... And now the defenders of Azov steel works, including the soldiers of the Azov Regiment.”