These soldiers, including 80 wounded, have been out since Monday and “have become prisoners”, said the Russian Ministry of Defense.

They had been entrenched for several weeks in the maze of underground galleries dug in Soviet times under the gigantic steelworks.

On Wednesday, pro-Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin said the commanders had not yet surrendered, and said there were initially “more than 2,000 people” at the site.

Their fate remains unresolved: Ukraine wants to organize an exchange of prisoners of war, but Russia has repeatedly indicated that it considers at least some of them not as soldiers, but as neo-Nazi fighters.

While the surrender marks an important step for Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wearing the traditional embroidered shirt, said his people remained “strong, indestructible, courageous and free”, in a video marking Vychyvanka Day, festival of Ukrainian folk traditions.

The first war crime trial on Ukrainian soil, that of a Russian soldier accused of having killed a Ukrainian civilian, resumed on Thursday in kyiv after a first session the day before, during which Vadim Chichimarine, 21, had pleaded guilty.

On Thursday, he apologized to the wife of the 62-year-old man shot dead in northeastern Ukraine on February 28 as he pushed his bike while on the phone.

“I know you won’t be able to forgive me, but I beg your pardon,” said the non-commissioned officer, during an exchange with Katerina Shelipova.

Another war crimes trial opened Thursday in the northeast of the country: that of two Russian soldiers accused of having fired rockets at civilian infrastructure in the region of Kharkiv, the country’s second city.

The General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, on its website, said it had already opened more than 12,000 investigations for war crimes, while international institutions are carrying out their own investigations into the abuses committed since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24. .

– Global food shortages in sight –

On the economic front, the big moneymakers of the G7 met in Germany on Thursday and Friday, at the bedside of the Ukrainian economy and to examine the consequences throughout the world of the war launched by Moscow almost three months ago.

Inflation linked in particular to soaring energy prices, threats of a food crisis and the specter of over-indebtedness in many developing countries, the agenda of the finance ministers of the seven industrial powers (United States, Japan, Canada, France , Italy, UK, Germany) is loaded.

First emergency: to cover the Ukrainian budget for the current quarter to maintain the war effort.

“I am quite optimistic that we will be able, together with the G7, to raise the funds which will allow Ukraine to defend itself over the next few months”, declared at the opening of the discussions Christian Lindner, the German Finance Minister, whose country chairs the Group of Seven this year.

In the longer term, while the war continues to ravage a large part of Ukrainian territory, discussions are already under way on aid for the reconstruction of the country. Funding avenues are mentioned, such as using Russian assets frozen under Western sanctions.

The war launched by Russia should cause a massive contraction of the Ukrainian economy, estimated at 30% by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and even 45% by the World Bank.

To varying degrees, the entire world economy is affected by this offensive and the resulting sanctions against Moscow. “We are witnessing serious economic consequences, especially for low-income countries, due to rising interest rates and rising world prices for agricultural products,” the German finance minister said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the “specter of global food shortages in the coming months”, imploring Russia to free Ukrainian grain exports, and the West to open up access of Russian fertilizers to world markets.

He had pointed out that the war in Ukraine had amplified and accelerated factors already contributing to the global food crisis: climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and growing inequalities between rich and poor countries.

– “Second-zone treatment” –

The question of membership of the European Union for Ukraine, which, worried about its security, wants a quick process, resurfaced on Thursday when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was opposed to granting a ” shortcut” to this country, arousing the ire of kyiv.

“The fact that there is no shortcut on the road to EU membership (of Ukraine) is an imperative of fairness towards the six Western Balkan countries” who have long wanted to join the European bloc, said Mr. Scholz in Berlin, saying that French President “Emmanuel Macron is right to point out that the accession process is not a matter of a few months or a few years”.

The head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba reacted quickly, denouncing “second-class treatment” from “certain capitals”.

“The strategic ambiguity over Ukraine’s European perspective practiced by some EU capitals over the past few years has failed and must end,” he tweeted.