Russia claim a big win in Mariupol after controlling the steel factory Azovstal which became the last stronghold of Ukrainian troops in the port city, Friday (20/5).
It marked the end of weeks of Russian attacks on Mariupol, especially the Azovstal steelworks.
Russia is bombarding factory bunkers and tunnels, the lair of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, meaning the end of the most destructive siege of the war that began when Russia invaded Ukraine nearly three months ago.
“The area of the Azovstal metallurgical plant has been completely liberated,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Reuters.
Russia said the surrendering group consisted of 531 personnel.
A video from Russia’s Ministry of Defense shows a line of surrendering armed personnel approaching Russian soldiers outside the factory.
Russian troops then carefully searched each of the men and their belongings and also apparently asked the armed personnel to show their tattoos.
Moscow referred to the Azov Regiment as “Nazis”. The unit was formed in 2014 as a militia to fight Russian-backed separatists.
“The company’s underground facilities, where the militants are hiding, are under the complete control of the Russian armed forces,” the Russian statement said.
Thus, according to the Ministry, the total number of Ukrainian militias who have bowed to Russia as of Friday (20/5) is 2,439 people.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has told President Vladimir Putin that both Mariupol and the steel mills have been completely controlled by Russia.
Ukraine ordered the garrison to withdraw on Monday, hours before Russia’s announcement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his soldiers had been told by the military that they could go out and save their lives.
Kyiv called the troops as heroes.
Zelensky said the Ukrainian air force had tried to fly supplies to Mariupol but had been repelled by Russia.
“Unfortunately, a large number of our pilots died. They were truly heroic people who knew it was difficult, that to fly there was almost impossible, to fly to Azovstal with medicine, food, water and to bring back corpses and the injured,” he told Ukrainian television.