UKRAINE (WTVO) — Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who were defending the steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered to Russia.

It came after nearly three months of fighting and appears to mark the fall off the besieged city. At least 50 of the 265 soldiers are seriously wounded and were carried out on stretchers.

Ukrainian officials, however, have avoided using the term “surrender.” They instead said that the fighters “completed their mission.”

“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive…. the operation to save the defenders of Mariupol has been started by our military intelligence,” said Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy. “The work continues to return guys home.”

Ukraine is hoping to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Russia, but it is unclear if that will happen. A top Russian official called the soldiers “war criminals who must be brought to justice.”