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GreekReporter.comEuropePutin Cancels Storming of Mariupol's Steel Works, Declares City "Liberated"

Putin Cancels Storming of Mariupol’s Steel Works, Declares City “Liberated”

Putin Mariupol
President Putin declared Mariupol liberated. Credit: Facebook/Ukraine Defense Ministry

On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to cancel plans to storm a Mariupol steelworks, and declared the Ukrainian port city “liberated.”

Instead of launching a final assault on the Azovstal steel plant—the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated coastal city—he said he wanted his forces to completely block off the complex, “so even a fly cannot escape.”

Ukrainian soldiers hiding away in a steel plant of Mariupol have ignored a series of Russian surrender-or-die ultimatums.

Putin: Impractical to storm industrial area in Mariupol

Putin added it would be “impractical” to storm the huge industrial area where more than 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen are said to remain, and the decision was being made to safeguard the lives of Russian soldiers.

Putin gave the order to Sergei Shoigu, his defense minister, who had previously told his boss more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were still holed up in the vast plant, which has a sprawling labyrinth of tunnels underneath it.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has demanded that Russia allow an immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians to escape the steelworks in Mariupol where many are said to be hiding.

Iryna Vereshchuk spoke after Putin canceled plans to storm the Azovstal plant.

“There are about 1,000 civilians and 500 wounded soldiers there. They all need to be pulled out of Azovstal today,” Vereshchuk said on social media.

Located in Mariupol’s port, the steel mill has been the last redoubt of fighters holding out against a weeks-long Russian onslaught that has left much of the city destroyed.

The Ukrainians holed up in there have said they are outnumbered “dozens of times” by the Russian forces surrounding them.

The fighters, comprised of the Azov Battalion, which has links to the far-right, and Ukrainian marines, have been hailed by President Zelensky for holding out for weeks against a Russian onslaught.

Evacuation from Mariupol continues

Four buses carrying evacuees managed to leave the besieged port city on Wednesday through a humanitarian corridor, Vereshchuk said.

Evacuees spent the night in the city of Berdyansk, and officials are awaiting them in the south-eastern city of Zaporizhzhia, she said on social media. Evacuations of women, children, and the elderly would continue today, she said.

“The security situation is difficult. Things may change,” she added.

Efforts to evacuate 6,000 more people from Mariupol have been largely frustrated.

Vereshchuk said earlier an exit corridor did not work as planned because Russia had a “lack of control” over its troops.

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