According to fresh statements from Russia's defense ministry Wednesday nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters have surrendered at Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks plant since the initial Tuesday reports that 300 had laid down their arms, with the wounded transferred to a Russian-controlled hospital.
This would bring the total number to almost 1,000 fighters surrendered, according to the Russian statements. The Russian MoD counted "694 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks have surrendered over the past 24 hours, according to a report by the country’s RIA news agency."
Regional media has reported, however, that the Ukrainian Azov battalion's top commanders have yet to come out of the large Azovstal plant. Pro-Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin was cited as saying of the top leadership, "They have not left [the plant]."
This despite Ukrainian defense officials claiming on Tuesday that there was an intentional decision to wind down "combat operations". The Ukrainians were taken into Russian detention after laying down their arms, in what the Kremlin asserted was an obvious "surrender".
Additionally Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky dubbed it an "evacuation":
"The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was initiated by our military and our intelligence officers with the goal to return them home. The work continues and this work requires tact and time," he said.
As we reported previously, multiple major Western media outlets also refused to use the term "surrender" in their headlines.
"Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters were taken by bus to Russian controlled territory," a NY Times report said. "Ukraine's president said the combat mission in the city was over, capping some of the longest, fiercest resistance."
At this point, the Russian military's official number of those fighters now in its custody from the Azovstal seige stands at 959 Ukrainian troops.