What the ‘Alt-News’ reports about the war in Ukraine that the mainstream media doesn’t

The war in Ukraine has transformed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from a rather weak leader into a world-renowned leader who has become a household name. Now a famous president, Zelenskyy has provided wartime aid and inspirational speeches on social media, while condemning Russia.

Although Zelenskyy managed to create a positive image and has countless fans, he is not a god and can make mistakes.

Mariupol has been a hot spot in Ukraine’s war, a city trapped in Russian military territory and besieged on all sides. At the same time, an isolated Ukrainian garrison, which includes part of the Azov fighters that Russia calls “Nazis” and wants to eliminate.

The challenge is that Russian President Vladimir Putin knows very well how to manipulate the Mariupol garrison to create geopolitical opportunities. Therefore, he ordered not to attack the Azov Steel Plant in Mariupol but to use them as bargaining chips. Shortly after, came the decisive moment. After more than 80 days of amazingly heroic fighting, the Ukrainian garrison finally ran out of ammunition and food. At the last minute, even their wives pleaded with the Pope to intervene, hoping to save their lives.

If Putin agrees in good faith to stop the attacks on the Ukrainian garrison, further peace talks are possible. The world will take notice and Turkey is willing to provide ships and security to recover the Ukrainian garrison from the steelworks, ensuring that they do not return to the front lines until the war is over.

On May 16 at noon, the last chance came. The commander of the Azov regiment, Denis Prokopenko, who is often the subject of media coverage, said that the Ukrainian garrison at the Azovstal plant had completed its task and managed to distract the Russian army during 82 days and attract a large number of Russian forces. His declaration seemed to announce the end of the siege of the steelworks. On the same day, Russian media also mentioned that Russia and Ukraine had reached an agreement to evacuate seriously injured soldiers from Azovstal to the Russian-occupied city of Novoazovsk. Reuters reported that a dozen buses carrying the Ukrainian garrison left the factory.

The world believes that the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to withdraw the garrison from the Azov steel plant seem to have achieved a certain result.

On May 17, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine first issued a statement stating that the Mariupol garrison “has completed its combat mission”. The commander of the Ukrainian army unit defending the Azovstal steel plant was ordered by the highest military command “to save the lives of personnel”, the statement said. The Ukrainian General Staff said 53 seriously injured soldiers had been taken to medical facilities in Novoazovsk. A further 211 defenders have been sent to Olenivka through humanitarian channels and will be returned to government-controlled territory through a prisoner-of-war exchange process, and steps are being taken to rescue the remaining defenders who are still at home. Azovstal steelworks.

Somewhat subtly, the commander of the Azov regiment, Denis Prokopenko, said in a video statement that his soldiers managed to distract the overwhelming enemy force, allowing the rest of the Ukrainian forces to restructure. However, he also pointed out that “the main thing is to realize if all the risks have been calculated, if plan B has been drawn up, if you have fully devoted yourself to this plan, which should combine the accomplishment of the task and ultimately save lives and health of personnel.”

Prokopenko also stressed that “war is an art, not a science”. “It is the highest level of command and control of troops, especially when your decision is approved by the highest military command.”

Later on May 17, Zelenskyy said that “Ukraine needs living Ukrainian heroes”. He also mentioned “thanks to the actions of the Ukrainian military – the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the intelligence services, the negotiation team, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, we hope that we can save the lives of our guys,” Zelenskyy added, recalling that among them were seriously wounded soldiers, to whom medical assistance is now being provided. He also underlined this point: “I want to emphasize: Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. That’s our principle. I think any decent person will understand those words.”

So far, I believe most people still think that the talks between Ukraine and Russia are going well and are being executed.

Inexplicably, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister declares that Russia would not implement the agreed agreements. Then Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko revealed that “negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are no longer continuing”, accusing Ukraine of not accepting Russia’s terms. Since then, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s office, has confirmed that the talks have been suspended. The risks that Prokopenko, the commander of the Ukrainian Azov regiment, feared the most came into full view.

Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are currently suspended. Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, told Ukrainian television. “Russia does not understand that the war is no longer taking place according to Russia’s rules, timetable or plans in any sense, while Ukraine’s professional resistance is only intensifying.” He firmly stressed that none of Russia’s goals can be achieved and that Ukraine will not trade territory for peace with Russia. “It is ideologically unacceptable for us to give something to the Russian Federation and pretend that it was some kind of easy war,” Podolyak added. “We cannot afford any Minsk agreement. Therefore, we must clear all our territories”. He said a new Minsk agreement could be signed by another president, but not by the president, as that would only escalate the conflict in the next one or two years.

His remarks appeared to imply that President Zelenskyy rejected Russia’s negotiating terms and insisted on fighting to the bitter end. The challenge is that the successive surrender of the Azovstal regiment has become unmanageable.

The Ukrainian garrison which was originally besieged by the Russians at the Azovstal steelworks surrendered. Instead of being returned to Ukraine, they were evacuated to areas controlled by Russian forces and pro-Russian armed forces. A Russian negotiator even called for Ukrainians to be sentenced to death because “they don’t deserve to live”. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Ukrainian soldiers and the regiment surrounded by the Azov steel plant in Mariupol are still coming out to surrender. On May 18, 694 people surrendered, of whom 29 were injured. Since May 16, the total number of surrendered Ukrainian garrisons has reached 959, including 80 wounded.

As it stands, information about the entire Azov Steel Plant negotiations is not transparent and deliberately fabricated or altered.

For example, who rejected Turkey’s participation? Was it Russia or Ukraine? Turkey has provided security, so is there no security in the negotiations now? Did the Ukrainian garrison want to surrender and did Zelenskyy have to agree to surrender, or did the negotiations go wrong? Did the Ukrainian negotiators argue for a deal with Russia, or did Russia later break the deal and frame the Ukrainian military presence? Did Russia break the deal because Zelensky refused to continue negotiations?

None of these questions has a clear answer. The only certainty is that Russia and Ukraine have negotiated, but no agreement has been reached. However, militants from the Azov steelworks had begun to surrender in large numbers.

Amid such confusion, Zelenskyy now struggles to explain that he had nothing to do with it. The Modern War Institute has taken note of the confusion in this diplomatic negotiation and can only affirm that a diplomatic agreement has been reached.

So far, Zelenskyy has not provided any further explanation about the negotiations, which is unfair to the Mariupol garrison. Zelenskyy should instead use existing resources to secure better terms. Of the negotiation process, he did not. Whatever his decision, there will certainly be negative impacts on Ukrainian society and even on the morale of the garrison. Part of the reason apparently has to do with his overly optimistic view of the war in Ukraine.

All the chaos had a price, the Russians continue to bomb the Azov steelworks simply because the Azovstal regiment is still fighting there.