Russia announces liberation of Mariupol
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has revealed that Russian forces now controlled the port city apart from the Azovstal steel plant.
President Vladimir Putin celebrated Russia's liberation of Mariupol on Thursday after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed him that Moscow controls the Ukrainian port city.
In a televised meeting, Putin said, "Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape," adding that it would be "impractical" to storm the area where over 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen are located.
Putin said the "liberation" of Mariupol was a "success" for Russian forces but ordered Shoigu to call off the planned storming of the Azovstal industrial area, dismissing it as "impractical".
"There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities. Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape," Putin said.
Yesterday, the commander of Ukrainian forces’ last stronghold in the southern port city of Mariupol said that his soldiers are facing their last days, "if not their last hours."
The Russian Armed Forces have renewed their offer for nationalist Ukrainian militants and foreign mercenaries remaining at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to halt their hostilities and lay down their arms from 11 AM GMT on Wednesday, Russian National Defense Center chief Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev said late Tuesday.
The Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that Mariupol had come under the control of the Russian armed forces, but militants remain in the Azovstal steel plant.
During a work meeting with Putin, he declared that "Mariupol was liberated by the armed forces of Russia and the People's Militia of the Donetsk People's Republic. The remnants of the nationalist formations took refuge in the industrial zone of the Azovstal plant."
According to the Minister, nearly 1,500 have already surrendered.
"As for those who are hiding at the Azovstal plant, they are thoroughly blocked there and around the entire perimeter, it will take us about three to four days to complete this work on Azovstal," Shoigu added.
Putin stressed the importance of preserving Russian lives and ordered blocking the Azovstal zone.
Mariupol has been a playground for Ukrainian provocations since the war broke out in the country on February 24. The Russian Defense Ministry had revealed that Ukrainian nationalists in Mariupol used civilians as human shields and opened fire against DPR fighters from behind the civilians' backs.
Azov battalion militants had also opened fire against civilians during evacuations from the city, resulting in the death of two people and the injury of four others, the Donetsk People's Republic reported last month.