Russia claims to have taken Full Control of Azovstal
Russia's Defense Ministry said on Friday that the latest group of Ukrainian military forces hiding in the destroyed Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol had surrendered, ending a long siege for weeks, Reuters reported.
"The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant has been completely liberated," the ministry said in a statement. It also says that the group that surrendered last consists of 531 people.
Russia also claims that in this way it has completely taken over Mariupol. If confirmed, it would be its biggest victory so far in the war with Ukraine, after a nearly three-month invasion that turned much of the strategic port city into a smoldering ruin, with fears that more than 20,000 civilians have died, reports Associated Press.
For now, there is no immediate confirmation from Ukraine that Azovstal and the city of Mariupol, respectively, are already under full Russian control.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has reported to President Vladimir Putin on the "complete liberation" of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance, and the city as a whole, spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying that a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who had been hidden in the steel plant had surrendered since Monday, including more than 500 on Friday.
The steel plant has been the site of fierce fighting for weeks. A small group of Ukrainian fighters had stayed at the plant, attracting Russian air strikes, artillery and tank fire, before the Kyiv government ordered them to abandon Azovstal's defenses, the Associated Press reported.
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