Russia says the 531 remaining defenders of Azovstal have surrendered and the siege of the Mariupol steelworks is over.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says the last group of Ukrainian forces holed up at Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant has surrendered, marking the end of a week-long siege.
“The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant… has been completely liberated,” the ministry said in a statement. He said that the group that had surrendered was made up of 531 people.
The complete abandonment of the bombed-out plant’s bunkers and tunnels marks the end of the most destructive siege in a war that began when Russia invaded Ukraine nearly three months ago.
Ukraine ordered the garrison to withdraw on Monday. Hours before the Russian announcement, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Ukrainian military had told the defenders they could go out and save their lives and would most likely all leave in the next few days.
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“The underground facilities of the company, where the militants were hiding, came under the full control of the Russian armed forces,” the Russian statement said on Friday, adding that a total of 2,439 defenders had surrendered in recent days.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that both Mariupol and the steel plant have been fully liberated, he said.