Fear and hope: Mariupol’s defenders walk into Russian custody and an uncertain future | CBC News

They’ve been a robust image of Ukraine’s defiance within the face of Moscow’s brutal invasion.

However on Tuesday, a lot of the remaining defenders of the pulverized Azovstal metal plant in ruined Mariupol stoically walked into Russian custody — a few of them carrying their wounded comrades — after almost three months of ferocious combating and bombardment.

The occasion signalled the start of the top of a siege which has captured the creativeness of Ukrainians and the world.

For the troopers’ households, the second was marked by a torrent of emotion — concern, aid, confusion, anger, defiance, however largely hope.

“We did not know what was happening and ready is the toughest half,” stated Lilia Stupina, whose husband Andriy, a daily drive soldier, was among the many first into Azovstal as Ukrainian defenders fell again into one of many largest metal and iron works factories in Europe.

“My husband is OK and he is wholesome. So, I do not know the place he’s now, however I consider in the very best, like, I consider in the very best.”

Lilia Stupina, whose husband, Andriy, was among the many troopers defending the Azovstal plant, joined greater than three dozen protesters in Kyiv calling on the Ukrainian authorities to safeguard their family members after their negotiated give up in Mariupol. (Murray Brewster/CBC Information)

She final heard from her 25-year-old husband per week in the past.

On Tuesday, Russia described the occasion as a mass give up. Ukrainian officers didn’t use that phrase — they stated the garrison had accomplished its mission and that the federal government was working to drag out the fighters that remained.

Because the Ukrainian troops — a few of them belonging to the far-right Azov Regiment — left the plant, their wives and different members of the family held a protest in Kyiv to attract consideration to their plight.

‘Don’t fret. Simply wait’

Irina Kulibaba is aware of her husband is alive as a result of she obtained a textual content message from a buddy and fellow soldier on the plant.

“He is OK,” the textual content learn. “Don’t fret. No issues. Simply wait.”

Greater than 260 fighters left the metal plant — their final redoubt in Mariupol — on Monday and had been transported to 2 cities managed by Moscow-backed separatists, officers on either side stated.

An unknown variety of different fighters nonetheless stay contained in the ruins of the fortified metal mill that sprawls over 11 sq. kilometres within the in any other case Russian-held metropolis.

Households of Ukrainian troopers reveal in Kyiv following the negotiated give up of forces on the Avozstal plant in Mariupol. (Murray Brewster/CBC Information)

“That is excellent news that these guys, injured guys, that they had been evacuated, however Russia hates us and, after all, we did not know what to suppose and the way to really feel about this,” stated Stupina.

Oleksandr Danylyuk, Ukraine’s former nationwide safety adviser, informed the BBC early Tuesday that the destiny of the captured males is topic to negotiation.

“They should then be swapped for the Russian prisoners we’ve got stored,” he stated.

Will the troopers be exchanged?

However Ukraine’s information company reported Tuesday evening that the Russian parliament intends to ban the change of prisoners who defended the plant, saying members Azov Regiment are “Nazi criminals [who] shouldn’t be topic to change.” 

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Duma in Moscow, stated Russia “should do every little thing to deliver them to trial.”

Stupina stated Moscow has tried for years to smear anybody who stands as much as defend Ukraine.

“Russia needs to suppose that they are Nazis, however that is not true,” she stated. “They hate them as a result of they’re probably the most highly effective warriors in Ukraine. And I consider, I do know, that they’re one of the highly effective warriors in the entire world.”

All through the siege, Stupina communicated by way of textual content together with her husband, who — like her — comes from the northeastern Sumy area of Ukraine. She stated he was unfailingly constructive and was continuously making an attempt to maintain her spirits up.

With every dialog, Stupina stated she tried to place herself in her husband’s place.

“I all the time suppose [of] what he is feeling proper now, and I attempted to dive too deep into his thoughts and attempt to perceive what [are] his emotions, his ideas,” she stated.

“He would not have meals or water. He tries to maintain in [a] good [frame of] thoughts to maintain me in [a] good thoughts, to suppose that he’s OK.”

Irina Kulibaba, whose husband was among the many fighters holed up within the Azovstal metal plant in Mariupol, says she is making an attempt to stay constructive now that his give up has been negotiated with Russia. (Murray Brewster/CBC Information)

Kulibaba stated she can be making an attempt to stay constructive whereas the federal government of President Volodomyr Zelensky negotiates with Moscow.

“I belief our authorities that they are going to assist and do their finest,” she stated. “I’m hoping that Russians is not going to torture them, and I consider that every little thing dangerous is behind already, and future is best than it was earlier than.”

Virtually two weeks in the past, the plant’s defenders stated they felt deserted by Kyiv and vowed to struggle till the top.

Stupina stated households have numerous questions, however now isn’t the time to ask them.

The previous would not curiosity Kulibaba, who stated life has been on maintain for her and husband because the invasion began.

“For the longer term, I simply [want] to really feel his odor and simply to hug him. This the primary [thing] what I need on this life,” she stated.

WATCH | Final-remaining fighters in Azovstal metal plant give up:

Ukrainian fighters evacuated from Mariupol metal plant

The Ukrainian navy has ended its holdout within the Azovstal metal plant, the final stronghold within the strategic port metropolis of Mariupol, confirming 264 wounded troops had been evacuated.

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