The leader of the separatist region in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province said six Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the area of the Azovstal Steel Plant when they tried to detonate an ammunition depot before laying down their arms.
“It is not clear who did this, nobody is responsible, but after the main group of soldiers left, … someone ordered to blow up the ammunition depot,” said Denis Pushilin – leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (People’s Republic Donetsk). Republic) DVR) self-proclaimed, revealed on May 21 on the Soloviev Live Youtube channel. “This was done hastily with unclear orders. As a result, six people were killed immediately and, to my knowledge, four others were injured.”
According to Pushilin, an unspecified number of Ukrainian soldiers may still be in the Azovstal Steel Plant area. These soldiers still have enough food and water, but no medicine. “Every room, every corner of the factory is being searched thoroughly,” the official said.
Ukraine has not yet commented on this information.
Earlier on May 20, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had informed President Vladimir Putin that the operation “to liberate” the Azovstal factory and all its facilities in the city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine be completed.
According to the report, since May 16, a total of 2,439 Ukrainian soldiers and members of the Azov Brigade who have been holed up in the Azovstal factory since April 21 have alternately laid down their arms. Most of the soldiers were taken to a detention center in the town of Yelenovka on the outskirts of Donetsk, while the wounded were taken to a hospital in a pro-Russian separatist-controlled area.
The Ukrainian government hopes to exchange the soldiers who have laid down their arms, but the Russian side has not yet reacted. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on May 21 that a condition for Kyiv to remain at the negotiating table is that Moscow does not harm the Ukrainian soldiers who are still holed up at the Azovstal Steel Plant.