Once a day, NU.nl gives you an overview of the situation in Ukraine. This time: The last group of Ukrainian soldiers in the steel factory Azovstal is said to have surrendered. With this, the Russian troops have completely taken over the factory in Mariupol. This is reported by the Russian state news agency RIA, based on the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The steel mill 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 civilians and military personnel were trapped, completely sealed off and without food or first aid. 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 been holed up in the factory began. The Ukrainian army top stated that “the Mariupol garrison has completed its combat mission”. Commanders of the units stationed in Azovstal had been ordered to “save the lives of the personnel”.
The government of Volodymyr Zelensky wants to exchange the soldiers taken as prisoners of war by Russia for Russian prisoners of war, but many Russian politicians are advocating trial by Moscow.
The last group would have consisted of 531 people.
Civilian deaths in the Donets basin
And then the Donets Basin. There, 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 “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 don’t know how many people have died because it’s just impossible to check every apartment.” According to the Ukrainian army, the Russians are bombarding 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, one of the last cities in the province controlled by Ukraine and currently surrounded by the Russians. Reuters was unable to independently verify the casualty figure and Russia denies systematically and falsely targeting civilians.
Analysts say that while Russian forces have made territorial gains in Luhansk, they made less progress in Donetsk, the province south of Luhansk that is also part of the Donetsk Basin region.
Russia will turn off the gas tap to Finland on Saturday
It was also announced on Friday that the Russian state gas company Gazprom will turn off the gas tap for Finland on Saturday morning. Why that happens is unknown. The gas supply of Finnish households is not at risk, according to the Finnish state gas company Gasum.
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 normal in the coming months,” said Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen.
It is therefore not clear why the tap closes. Gasum had previously been at odds with Gazprom about how the gas bill should be paid. The Russian state-owned company wants to see rubles for that, something Gasum refuses.
The Finnish company claims that the gas supply can be paid in euros according to the contract. On this, Gasum decided to go to the judge to step. Earlier, the supply of Russian gas to Poland and Bulgaria was stopped because those countries refused to pay in rubles.
In the background, Finland’s rapprochement with NATO may play a role. The country applied for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization earlier this week after decades of neutrality. The Russians are strongly against this as a neighboring country.
New images that Russian troops were involved in Bucha .’s executions
Further reported The 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, two paratroopers can be seen driving nine Ukrainian men through the street at full speed. The prisoners walk crouched, with one hand behind their heads and with the other holding the belt of their predecessor.
At around 11am, Russian soldiers found the men and forced all nine out of the house. They searched them for military tattoos, then marched to 144 Yablunska Street, a four-story office building they’d turned into a base. “Walk to the right, bitch,” one of the soldiers orders them.
The second video was made from a nearby house. It shows how the men are taken 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 images date from March 4. The paratroopers captured Bucha the day before.