President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that more than 2,500 defenders of Mariupol were being held captive by the Russians.
He said this during todayʼs meeting with journalists.
The President of Ukraine believes that it is unprofitable for the Russians to torture the Ukrainian military from Azovstal, because they are "public prisoners". Zelensky also noted that their release is being handled by Defence Intelligence.
"The only result is to bring people home. The first part was to bring people out alive. I believe that Defence Intelligence did the first part. Today there is a second part — to bring them home alive. They are our best specialists in this matter today. Maybe not the best in the world, but for us, they are the best. I personally trust them," the president said.
Also, according to Zelensky, he does not accept the statements of the Russian authorities and Donetsk Peopleʼs Republic leaders about the future of Ukrainian defenders.
- On May 17, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine confirmed that on the evening of May 16, the process of removing Ukrainian servicemen from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol began. More than 250 fighters were the first to leave.
- The speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation called the Ukrainian military from "Azovstal" "war criminals" and said that they should not be exchanged.
- On May 19, members of the International Committee of the Red Cross were able to visit some Ukrainian servicemen who had left the Azovstal plant in Mariupol and were in occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast. The visit was confidential, details of the conditions of detention of Ukrainian defenders are not disclosed.
- On June 5, the wife of a Mariupol defender said that the pre-trial detention center in Mariupol was overcrowded and that food and water needed to be improved.