Russian forces capture Mariupol Azovstal steel plant: Moscow
The Russian Armed Forces have complete control over the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol after holing up thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and Azov Battalion militants in the plant for weeks.
The Russian Armed Forces have seized the Azovstal steel manufacturing plant in Mariupol, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said Friday, revealing that Moscow now has full control of the plant, including its underground facilities.
"The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, where a group of Ukrainian militants from Nazi formation Azov has been blocked since April 21 this year, has been completely liberated," Konashenkov told a briefing. The militants were mainly hiding in the plant's underground facilities.
2,439 Azov militants and Ukrainian soldiers have laid down their arms and surrendered since May 16, the spokesperson added.
"Today, on May 20, the last group of 531 militants surrendered," Konashenkov said, revealing that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has briefed President Vladimir Putin about the end of the Russian operation at Azovstal.
The Russian military had reported Thursday that 771 Ukrainian militants from the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, who had been locked in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol over the past week due to a Russian-imposed siege on the area, surrendered in the past 24 hours. This brought up the total number of Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered this week at the plant to 1,730, but with the operation ending today, the number increased significantly.
Kiev's forces trapped at Azovstal had reached an agreement on removing the wounded from the steel plant and transferring them to medical facilities in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), according to a Russian Defense Ministry press briefing on Monday.
However, Kiev ordered the remaining extremist Azov battalion troops holed up in Mariupol's besieged Azovstal steelworks plant to lay down their arms earlier today.
Despite the combatants surrendering unconditionally to the Donetsk people's militia and Russian forces, Kiev continues to be disconnected from reality claiming that the ongoing surrender is a mass rescue operation, as it refused to comment on such news that would endanger the efforts of the rescue.
Denis Pushilin, head of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic, which now includes the city of Mariupol, said more than half the fighters had surrendered, and that the uninjured had been taken to a prison near Donetsk.
Mariupol had 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 about 150 civilians as human shields and opened fire against DPR fighters from behind the civilians' backs.