Russia has taken 89 injured soldiers who surrendered from the besieged Mariupol steelworks to a camp while their ‘Nazi links’ are probed, state media has reported.
The troops have been transported to Taganrog in southwest Russia, according to a Russian news website. It was previously thought that captured Ukrainian soldiers would be held in rebel-controlled parts of Ukraine, paving the way for them to be exchanged as part of a prisoner swap.
Quoting an unnamed source described as being within the “power structure” of the southwestern Rostov region, the 161.ru website described them as “an important object”.
The camp at Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov near Rostov, is believed to be a pre-trial detention centre.
Human rights groups have said that thousands of Ukrainian refugees have been dispersed across Russia against their will.
The 161.ru website also quoted its Rostov source as saying that “some of the Ukrainians brought to Taganrog were found with chevrons of the SS divisions”.
The Kremlin has promoted the line that the Azov Battalion which defended the Mariupol Steelworks since the start of the war on Feb 24 has strong links to Nazis, a key justification for launching the invasion of Ukraine.
Neither the Kremlin nor officials in the Rostov region have officially commented on allegations that Ukrainian soldiers have been sent to the camp in Taganrog.
Some Russian officials have also called for the Mariupol soldiers who surrendered this week to be handed the death penalty.
The siege at the Mariupol steelworks became a focal point of the war.
Various sources have said that despite the injured prisoners surrendering, there are at least 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers still based in its web of tunnels who have pledged to fight to the end.