Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Putin claims Mariupol: “Not a fly can escape”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday declared that Ukraine’s Mariupol has been ‘successfully liberated’. However, Putin has asked 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 hailed Russia’s “liberation” of Mariupol after his defence minister said that Moscow controls the city apart from the Azovstal steel plant, where Ukrainian soldiers remain. “Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape,” Putin said.

“Before lunchtime, or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the forces of the Russian Federation,” Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia`s republic of Chechnya, whose forces have been fighting in Ukraine, said of the steel plant.

On Tuesday, Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu had said their forces were “methodically carrying out” plans to “liberate” two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. He added on Thursday that the steel plant was “securely blocked”.

Without the steel plant, Russia cannot declare complete victory in Mariupol. The city’s capture has both strategic and symbolic importance. 

Earlier in February, Russia had acknowledged the “independence” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. Soon after that, Putin’s forces led “special military operations” in Ukraine on February 24.

The coal- and steel-producing Donbas has been the focal point of Russia’s campaign.

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