Azovstal siege over, Russians take over steel factory | NOW

Once a day, NU.nl gives you an overview of the situation in Ukraine. This time: The last group of Ukrainian soldiers in the Azovstal steel factory is said to have surrendered. With this, the Russian troops have completely taken over the factory in Mariupol. It informs the Russian state news agency RIA based on the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The steelworks was the last stronghold in the Ukrainian port city, not in the hands of the Russians. For weeks the factory was besieged by the Russians. Hundreds of civilian and military personnel were captured, completely cordoned off and without food or medical assistance. On May 7, it was announced that all women, children and the elderly had been evacuated from the factory.

On Monday, the evacuation of Ukrainian soldiers who had become hollow at the factory began. The Ukrainian army summit stated that “the Mariupol garrison has completed its combat mission”. The commanders of the units stationed in Azovstal had been ordered to “save the lives of staff”.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s government wants to swap the troops that Russia has taken as prisoners of war with Russian prisoners of war, but many Russian politicians are in favor of a trial in Moscow.

The last group would consist of 531 people.

Civilian deaths in the Donets Basin

And then the Donets Basin. Houses in residential areas were also destroyed in the attacks that took place on Friday. Civilians were killed, the Ukrainian government said.

According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Russian offensive has now turned the region into a “hell”.

“The Russian army has started very intensive destruction of the city of Severodonetsk, the intensity of the shelling has doubled. They are shelling residential areas and destroying house by house,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said via his Telegram channel.

“We do not know how many people have died because it is just impossible to check every apartment.” According to the Ukrainian army, the Russians are bombing civilian infrastructure throughout the Donets basin.

As far as is known, at least 13 civilians were killed in Luhansk province on Friday, 12 of them in Severodonetsk. This is one of the last cities in the province controlled by Ukraine and currently surrounded by the Russians. Reuters could not independently verify the number of casualties, and Russia systematically refuses to attack civilians.

Analysts say that while Russian forces have made territorial progress in Luhansk, they have made less progress in Donetsk, the province of Luhansk, which is also part of the Donetsk Basin.

Russia closes the gas tap to Finland on Saturday

It was also announced on Friday that the Russian state gas company Gazprom will close the gas tap for Finland on Saturday morning. Why this happens is unknown. The gas supply of Finnish households is not threatened, the Finnish state gas company Gasum informs.

The company says it will supply the country’s residents via the so-called Balticconnector pipeline, which runs between Estonia and Finland. “We have been preparing for this scenario for some time and will be able to supply our customers – if there are no other disruptions – as usual in the coming months,” says Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen.

It is therefore not clear why the tap closes. Gasum had previously been at odds with Gazprom over how the gas bill should be paid. The Russian state-owned company will see rubles for that, something Gasum rejects.

The Finnish company claims that the gas supply can be paid in euros according to the contract. Gasum decided on Tuesday to go to court. Earlier, the supply of Russian gas to Poland and Bulgaria was stopped because these countries refused to pay in rubles.

In the background, Finland’s rapprochement with NATO may play a role. The country applied earlier this week for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after decades of neutrality. The Russians are strongly against this as a neighboring country.

New images of Russian troops involved in the executions of Bucha

Further reported New York Times Friday that Russian paratroopers were involved in executions in Bucha, Ukraine. The Russians held the suburb of Kyiv for more than a month. Hundreds of civilian bodies were found after their retreat in April.

In one of the videos, from a security camera, you can see two paratroopers driving nine Ukrainian men through the street at full speed. The prisoners are crouched, with one hand behind their head and the other in their predecessor’s belt.

That second video was made from a nearby house. It shows how the men are led to a courtyard. The video ends, but eyewitnesses told newspaper reporters that the military took the detainees from there to the nearby Russian headquarters. They were shot there.

The pictures are from March 4th. The paratroopers captured Bucha the day before.

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