Surrendered Azovstal Ukrainian soldiers escorted to Donetsk by Russia-backed forces.

Ukrainian soldiers, who surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol on Friday (May 20) were taken by buses escorted by Russia-backed forces to a former former penal colony in the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka near Donetsk.

Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters have surrendered from the labyrinth of bunkers and tunnels below the Azovstal plant, though Moscow and Kyiv have given different estimates on numbers. On Friday, Russia said that up to 2,000 fighters from Azovstal had so far surrendered. It was unclear how many fighters remained inside. Ukrainian officials have declined to comment, saying it could endanger rescue efforts.

Russia needs Mariupol, one of Ukraine's main seaports, to cement its control of land it has seized along the coast, reaching all the way west to annexed Crimea.

The commander of Ukraine's Azov Regiment said in a video posted on Friday (May 20) an order had been issued to stop defending Mariupol and save the lives of soldiers at Azovstal plant, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance against Russian forces in the besieged city.

"The military high command have given an order to save lives and the health of the garrison’s servicemen, and to cease defending the city," Denys Prokopenko, the commander, said in the video shared by the Azov Regiment on the Telegram messaging service.

"The civilians have been evacuated. The heavily wounded received the necessary assistance and they were evacuated, to be later exchanged and delivered to territory controlled by Ukraine," Prokopenko added.

Prokopenko said the process of removing the dead from the Azovstal plant was still under way. "I hope that in the near future, relatives and Ukraine will be able to bury their soldiers with honour," he said.

The Sun newspaper brings you the latest breaking news videos and explainers from the UK and around the world

Become a Sun Subscriber and hit the bell to be the first to know

Read The Sun: www.thesun.co.uk
Like The Sun on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesun/
Follow The Sun on Twitter: twitter.com/TheSun
Subscribe to The Sun on Snapchat: www.snapchat.com/discover/The_Sun/1633225139

Watch video on channel "The Sun"
Ukrainian marines pummel Russians with artillery

Ukrainian marines pummel Russians with artillery

UKRAINIAN Marines joke about bad weather as they pummel Russians with artillery. Footage appears to show Ukrainian Marines pummelling Russian positions with artillery before joking about how the ‘occupiers' were being hit by ‘thunderstorms' and ‘h...

1

Ukrainian marines team with gunners to destroy Russian tanks.

Ukrainian marines team with gunners to destroy Russian tanks.

UKRAINIAN marines team with gunners to destroy Russian tanks and ammunition stores. The footage was obtained from the 36th Separate Marine Brigade, officially the "Rear Admiral Mykhailo Bilynsky 36th Separate Marine Brigade" of the Ukrainian Navy,...

Ukrainian forces fire U.S. long-range rocket systems

Ukrainian forces fire U.S. long-range rocket systems

MOMENT Ukrainian forces fire long-range rocket systems, supplied by the U.S.A, at Russian targets. Ukraine said on Thursday (June 23) it had received U.S. supplies of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a powerful long-range weapon sy...

Brit lads raid bombed out Russian tanks & brave front line to give aid to Ukrainians.

Brit lads raid bombed out Russian tanks & brave front line to give aid to Ukrainians.

Vans Without Borders have returned to Ukraine to continue their vital and groundbreaking work to deliver humanitarian aid to vulnerable Ukrainians who have been left isolated as a consequence of Russian aggression. Exclusive by Valerie Browne Dona...

LIVE: Biden reacts to Supreme Court overturning Roe vs.

LIVE: Biden reacts to Supreme Court overturning Roe vs.

LIVE: President Biden reacts to the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs. Wade, the ruling that had legalized abortion in the United States. The decision by the court's conservative majority to overrule the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling ...