Self Declared Peoples Republic of Donetsk (DPR) Vostok Brigade Commander Khodakovsky told Russian state media and his followers on Telegram that around 1200 local time, Mariupol, that negotiations were under way with Ukrainian troops still inside the Azovstal Steel Plant. The plant has been besieged for nearly two and a half months with anywhere from 1,000-2000 Ukrainian troops still inside the sprawling complex.
At about 1300 Mariupol local, the same DPR commander announced an agreement had been reached, several Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops were emerging from the plant to surrender with white flags, however, those rumors were dispelled as troops who were attempting to deliver corridor terms to the DPR commander. The Russian commander stated that “9 Ukrainian soldiers under the humanitarian banner emerged from the plant”.
At approximately 1400 Mariupol local, injured Ukrainian service members began leaving the plant.
The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement at approximately 1500 Mariupol local stating that: “On May 16, as a result of negotiations with representatives of Ukrainian military personnel blocked on the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, an agreement was reached on the removal of the wounded,”. They went on to say that the unspecified number of wounded would be treated at Novoazovsk hospital inside territory held by the DPR.
None of this information has been corroborated by Ukrainian officials, but it is not outside the realm of possibility to believe that critically wounded Ukrainian soldiers are being evacuated for treatment.
The battle for the Azovstal Steel Plant has become quite symbolic to Ukraine and it’s struggle against the massive February 24th invasion. The battle has also become symbolic for Russian and Separatist Ground Forces as the Azov Battalion, Ukraines famous far right fighting unit. Since the Russian Federations declared goal was to de-nazify Ukraine, victory over this unit is paramount for justifying their invasion.