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Russia has claimed it has taken the besieged city of Mariupol and surrounded 2,000 people at a factory.
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has informed Vladimir Putin that the southern port city has been taken, the Interfax news agency reported this morning.
If his claims are true, then Russia has gained a major strategic advantage, as holding Mariupol would allow Putin’s forces access to the sea and a potential route to Kyiv from the south.
Shoigu said that 2,000 fighters remained at the Azovstal plant, a huge steel mill where Ukrainian forces were assembled.
Russian-backed separatists began entering the plant on April 19 with “assault groups formed to storm the facility.”
Today, Putin ordered the Russian military to cancel plans to storm the Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, saying he wanted it instead to continue to be safely blocked.
It is unclear how, given the large presence of enemy troops in the Azovstal plant, Shoigu concluded that the city had fallen.
The defense minister said the situation in Mariupol was now “calm” after Russia evacuated 142,000 civilians.
His claims have yet to be independently verified and come after evacuation efforts from the city were widely viewed as having failed.
For the past week, the situation in Mariupol has become increasingly desperate as the Russians focused their attack on southern and eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian soldiers, including the controversial Azov Battalion, remain in the city after previously ignoring calls to surrender.
Viktor Macha, a Czech industrial photographer who visited the Azovstal steel plant in 2016, believes that the Ukrainian armed forces chose the plant as a base because of the “evil air raid shelters” built beneath it.
Before the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the plant employed more than 10,000 people.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/breaking-russia-claims-city-mariupol-26760735 Russia says city of Mariupol fell at factory with 2,000 fighters - World News