(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine is working to get more of its fighters out of Mariupol’s beseiged Azovstal compound, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, as Russia threatened to put on trial those it said had “surrendered” at the steel plant.

“The evacuation mission continues” overseen by the military and intelligence service with help from “the most influential international mediators,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address to the nation, without elaborating. He said he’d also discussed the situation with French President Emmanuel Macron. 

The fate of the forces taken prisoner at Azovstal is likely to further complicate efforts to resume negotiations that both sides say are stalled. Their resistance against overwhelming odds to defy Russian troops who’d seized the rest of Mariupol has brought them heroic status among Ukrainians, with many appealing to the international community to help rescue the fighters. Zelenskiy has said there can be no talks with Moscow if the Azovstal defenders are killed.

Ukraine says it expects the 265 servicemen, including 51 badly wounded troops, who were taken into Russian custody after emerging from Azovstal late Monday will be part of an eventual prisoner swap. It hasn’t said how many fighters remain in the giant plant that’s surrounded by Russian forces. 

Russia hasn’t said publicly if any agreement exists and the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, told lawmakers Tuesday there should be no exchange for what he called “war criminals.” The Azov forces “unconditionally surrendered,” Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said on Twitter.

The Investigative Committee in Moscow announced it intends to interrogate the prisoners, who were taken to Russia-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine, for possible prosecution. 

Russia’s Supreme Court will also hear an application from the Prosecutor General’s Office to designate Ukraine’s Azov Battalion as a “terrorist organization” on May 26, potentially opening the way for sentences of up to 20 years for those convicted of involvement, the Interfax news service reported.

One senior lawmaker, Leonid Slutsky, who was part of the Russian negotiating team that took part in peace talks with Ukrainian counterparts, called for a moratorium on capital punishment in Russia to be lifted to allow for the death penalty against those taken prisoner. 

Those who held out against Russia’s assault at Azovstal for 83 days “completely changed the course of the war,” Mikhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskiy, said on Twitter. Their resistance “ruined” Russian plans to capture eastern Ukraine, he said.

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