The Russian army discovered the bodies of 152 Ukrainian fighters in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol (southeast), and is ready to hand them over to Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

During their search operations in the steelworks, where more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters, in particular from the Azov regiment, had taken refuge for several weeks before surrendering to the Russian forces in mid-May, “the Russian soldiers discovered an insulated van “, according to the ministry.

“In the van, whose refrigeration system was not working, were stored 152 bodies of fighters and soldiers of the Ukrainian forces,” he added, saying that “four mines” had also been discovered under the bodies.

“The Russian side plans to return the bodies found in the steelworks to Ukrainian representatives,” he said, saying that Moscow had not received any request from kyiv to recover these remains.

It was not possible to independently verify these claims.

The last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol, entrenched in the huge Azovstal steelworks, surrendered to Russian forces between May 16 and 20, after three months of intense fighting.

Nearly 2,500 Ukrainian fighters are now detained by the Russians, who intend to try them as war criminals.