The last remaining militants defending the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol have surrendered, Russia claimed tonight.
If confirmed, it would put Putin’s forces in complete control of the port city, where defenders held out for weeks at the large industrial site.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said: “The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant[…] was completely freed.
“The company’s underground facilities, where the militants were hiding, came under the full control of the Russian armed forces.”
It said 531 people had surrendered to them, adding that a total of 2,439 defenders had surrendered over the past few days.
They showed video claiming to show this in motion, with a line of unarmed men approaching Russian soldiers outside the plant and calling their names.
Each man and his belongings were then searched, with Russians also appearing to have urged defenders to show their tattoos.
Ukraine on Monday ordered the garrison still there to withdraw.
Moscow calls the Azov regiment, which defended the Nazis of the steel mill.
The unit, formed in 2014 as a militia to fight Russian-backed separatists, denies being fascist and Ukraine says it has been reformed from its radical far-right origins.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said today that the defenders had been told by the Ukrainian military that they could get out and save their lives.
The Ukrainian government is calling the defenders heroes and says their stance helped tie down Russian forces and allowed Ukraine to thrive elsewhere on the battlefield.
Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian air force tried to fly supplies to Mariupol but was repulsed and suffered heavy casualties.
“Unfortunately, a very large number of our pilots have died,” he told Ukrainian television.
“They were absolutely heroic people who knew that it was difficult, that it was almost impossible to fly in there, fly to Azovstal with medicine, food and water and bring back the corpses and wounded.”
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said defense of the plant will be taught in military schools for years to come.
Those inside had no clean water, only enough food for one meal a day and virtually no medical care, he said.
“Do you understand what it means to amputate a limb without anesthesia? What you see in Hollywood horror movies is nothing compared to what Azovstal’s defenders saw and endured,” he told Ukrainian TV ahead of the Russian announcement.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/20/russia-claims-control-of-azovstal-steel-works-in-mariupol-after-long-siege-16684239/ After a long siege, Russia claims control of the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol