MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. Chechnya’s Head Ramzan Kadyrov on Wednesday said Ukrainian prisoners of war can be exchanged for captured Russian troops but hardline Bandera followers from the Azov battalion must be punished.
"Military servicemen can be exchanged but those hardcore Banderites shouldn’t be exchanged by any means," he told reporters. "They should be punished as stipulated by law."
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said that since May 16, almost 1,000 militants that had been blocked at the Azovstal plant, had surrendered. According to the spokesman, 694 fighters surrendered over the past day, including 29 wounded ones.
Azovstal remains the last area that Ukraine still holds in Mariupol. The battles for the city lasted almost two months and ended with the victory of the Russian and Donetsk forces. On April 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a halt of the storming of the plant and sealing off the enterprise tightly. By that time, according to the Russian military, more than 2,000 people remained at Azovstal, or about a third of the city's original garrison.