Mariupol: On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Ukraine’s Mariupol has been successfully liberated. However, Putin has ordered his troops not to storm the Azovstal steel plant, the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the city, but to block it so no one can escape.
President Vladimir Putin praised Russia’s “liberation” of Mariupol after his defense minister stated that Moscow now controls the city, except for the Azovstal steel factory, where Ukrainian troops have their hold. “Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape,” Putin said.
Earlier this week, Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu said that the forces were carrying out the to “liberate” two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine methodically. He added on Thursday that the steel plant was “securely blocked”.
Unless Russia captures the steel plant, it cannot declare complete victory in Mariupol. The besieged city has been the site of great suffering since the war began in February.
Russia had acknowledged the “independence” of the Donetsk and Luhansk areas in eastern Ukraine earlier in February. Putin’s army invaded Ukraine on February 24th, not long after.
Since 2014, when the Kremlin utilized proxies to establish separatist “people’s republics” in Luhansk and Donetsk, the coal- and steel-producing Donbas has been at the center of Russia’s drive to destabilize Ukraine.
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