After Ukraine announced that it had ordered its troops to entrench in Mariupol ceased fighting, the country’s officials paused publicly about the fate of the last remaining soldiers there.
Local news agency DAN On May 18, Denis Pushilin, the leader of the pro-Russian separatists that control the region, said that the main commanders inside the factory had not yet surrendered.
According to the news agency ReutersUkrainian officials confirmed the surrender of more than 250 soldiers on May 17, but did not say how many were still inside or their condition.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on May 18 that an additional 694 soldiers had surrendered overnight, bringing the total number of people to lay down their weapons to 959.
Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), during a visit to Mariupol. Photo: EPA-EFE
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials noted that they would not comment further at this time. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on May 18: “Unfortunately, this matter is very sensitive and there are a series of very difficult negotiations going on today so I cannot say anything more.”
Mayor Mariupol said President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Red Cross and the United Nations were involved in the negotiations, but did not give further details.
Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyik, spokesman for Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, confirmed at a press conference that the government is making every effort to carry out the rescue of the remaining soldiers. “Any information that is made public can jeopardize that process,” said Oleksandr Motuzyanyik.
An optimistic sign in Kiev was that the US announced it had resumed operations at its embassy in the capital on May 18, after three months of closure due to hostilities in Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken US officials said additional measures were taken to “enhance the safety of colleagues returning to Kiev and improve security options”.
Ukrainian forces blew up the bridge connecting Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk with Rubizhne. Photo: Reuters
US State Department spokesman Daniel Langenkamp on May 18 said a small number of US diplomatic staff will return to work. However, consular operations will not resume immediately and the US State Department’s travel advisory for all regions of Ukraine will remain in place.
Many Western countries including France, Britain and Germany have also reopened their embassies in Kiev within the past month after Russian troops withdrew from the northern region and moved to eastern Ukraine.
Reuters reports that Moscow is now focusing on the Southeast after withdrawing from Kiev.
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