While I am working on a piece about western-funded biolabs in Ukraine I hand my blog over to Russian commentator, Vera Zherdeva. In her latest article she makes pertinent observations about there being no mention of foreigners among Azov battalion prisoners and others who surrendered from the network of tunnels under the factory complex.
She gives Ministry of Defence figures and quotes the opinions of Sergey Goncharov and Alexander Mikhailov, the latter of whom makes a worthy analogy about lack of information when comparing it to Russia’s capture of Gary Powers after his U2 spy-plane was brought down in Russian territory.
Similarly, the secret Biolab that is supposed to be in the bowels of Azovstal has had no mention. However one report from Alexander Khodakovsky states that explosions were heard and smoke seen coming from the underground network as the last occupiers were surrendering. In a later report Denis Pushilin told the Soliev Live News Channel that six people were killed and four injured blowing up the ammunition remaining in the Azovstal tunnels but it is unknown who gave the order. The allied forces of Donbas are sweeping the factory area for mines and detonating those they find.
Below is an edited machine-translation of Vera Zherdeva’s original of 22 May 2022.
Mariupol, Azovstal: Where did the Nato generals go?
The epic squatting of the “Defenders of the Square” at “Azovstal” seems to have ended. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the territory of this plant and the whole of Mariupol has been liberated from Ukrainian militants.
Since May 16, 2,439 neo-Nazis from Azov* and servicemen of the Ukrainian troops blocked on the territory of the plant have surrendered, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation noted.
The last group, of which there were 531 “sidelets” [prisoners and servants true to the cause], was released on May 20. Evidently, there is one circumstance that requires clarification.
During the operation to liberate Mariupol, information periodically surfaced that citizens of third countries were taking part in military operations in the city. The figure given was 200-300 mercenaries..
On April 17, the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said that according to the soldiers and officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who surrendered, there are up to 400 foreigners – citizens of European countries on the territory of the enterprise. And he recalled that radio conversations between militants in Mariupol were conducted in six foreign languages.
The fact that retired Canadian General Trevor Cadieu could be on the territory of Azovstal was also reported by the representative of the People’s Militia of the DPR, Eduard Basurin. There were even reports on social networks about his detention while trying to escape from the enterprise. This accompanied news that retired US Admiral Eric Olson, who had settled in the factory basements, surrendered. He was allegedly recognized among the prisoners in one of the photos. British Lieutenant Colonel John Bailey and four other foreign military instructors are also mentioned.
But there were no official reports that foreigners were among those who laid down their arms at Azovstal at the time of preparation of this text.
Where did they go? Or were they not there at all? Or did not everyone come out after all?
Most likely, full information about who surrendered has not yet been announced, — suggests Sergey Goncharov, president of the Association of Veterans of the Anti-terrorism unit “Alpha”, a member of the Russian Academy of Security, Defense and Law Enforcement Problems.
— First of all, the fact that foreign mercenaries are operating on the territory of Ukraine has been confirmed. The bodies of the dead were found, then, remember, two Britons surrendered. It is quite possible that they were in Mariupol. Of course, we need to wait a few more days, but it is unlikely that anyone else will stay at Azovstal. I can hardly believe the version that the ideological Nazis surrendered, and the mercenaries who fought for money, without any ideas, were left there to die. And I am somewhat confused by the information about what is happening. They talked about 300-400 foreign mercenaries and almost generals. But even if we assume that our special services took someone out without attracting attention in order to continue working with them, then we cannot talk about such a crowd. It is impossible to hide hundreds of people. If they were there, it was in much smaller numbers.
“SP [Free Press]”: — No matter how many of them there are, something must be done with them. They are citizens of other states. British Prime Minister Johnson literally begged to be gentle with those two Britons who surrendered.
— According to the legislation of all countries, including Russia, the Geneva Convention does not apply to mercenaries. They will be judged according to Russian laws, and it doesn’t matter to us which states they are citizens of. We don’t care about that at all. And I generally think that we are too soft on those who give up. After all, we must understand that they killed our soldiers. Mercy should not exceed reasonable limits.
“SP”: — Is it possible to exchange mercenaries for our citizens who are imprisoned abroad?
— That’s a perfectly fair question. We have Booth, who has been imprisoned in the USA for many years. There are others. So the exchange option is possible. Yaroshenko was exchanged for an American fool. But just like that, at the request of some Johnson, we will not return the mercenaries.
Alexander Mikhailov, a veteran of the special services, believes that it is necessary to wait before drawing conclusions about whether foreigners were among the “defenders” of Azovstal or not.
— When there is such information, everything needs to be divided by twenty. Firstly, we do not know exactly how those who left Azovstal are filtered out. And it is quite possible that the real composition of the released has not yet been announced.
Secondly, it should be borne in mind that conclusions about what was said concerning the number of foreign mercenaries on Azovstal were speculative, not accurate data. But for some reason we forget about it. In my opinion, the mercenaries were there, and, in all likelihood, they have already been transferred to Moscow or to the city closest to Donetsk on the territory of the Russian Federation. And investigators are working with them.
The expert recalled the story of the American military pilot Francis Gary Powers. The U-2 reconnaissance aircraft piloted by him was shot down near Sverdlovsk on May 1, 1960. The Americans were absolutely sure that the pilot could not survive, because the circumstances surrounding this adventure excluded such a possibility. Therefore, they told the whole world in detail that the United States had nothing to do with it, that it was an unknown plane that got lost, and that they were not conducting any reconnaissance. And only a few days later, on May 5, Khrushchev presented Powers to the world community. Thus gaining considerable time, giving the Americans the opportunity to use all their arguments regarding the downed plane. So when they found out that their pilot was alive, they were confused and did not know how to get out of it further.
Powers was tried for espionage, he received 10 years. But a year and a half later, he was exchanged for Rudolf Abel, an illegal Soviet intelligence officer who was serving time in the United States.
— I do not exclude that there will be a similar story here, because the crowd came out from Azovstal. Filtering, interrogations, and their identification are required. It is possible that after a while, as in 1960, we will be presented with American, British, French instructors who were at Azovstal. And as for the mercenaries, those who went to fight at their own risk, for the sake of earning money, then for us they are nobody and there is no way to call them. The Geneva Convention does not apply to them. If everyone else can count on the conditions of captivity stipulated in this convention, then mercenaries cannot count on anything. They are criminal criminals. And they will be treated as criminals who ended up on the territory of Ukraine and acted in the interests of a third country. So we need to wait a bit. Very soon we will be told for sure whether there were foreigners among those who left Azovstal, and their exact composition. Then we will decide what to do with them.
Cover image is of a detonating mine at Azovstal