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Russia says it took Mariupol, but admits Ukrainian resistance at steel mill

A siderúrgica de Azovstal, que Putin mandou seu Exército isolar

The Azovstal steel mill, which Putin ordered his army to isolate

| Photo: EFE/EPA/OLEG PETRASYUK

Russian Defense Minister Serguei Choigu said this Thursday () that the country’s troops took control of Mariupol, Ukraine, despite admitting that there is still resistance at the Azovstal steel mill . The industry, where about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers are hiding, would be targeted, but the action was canceled by the Russian president. Ukraine claims that Putin’s attempt to avoid a final confrontation with its forces in the city is an acknowledgment that Russia does not have the strength to defeat them.

“I consider the proposed attack inappropriate. I order it to be canceled,” Vladimir Putin told Choigu in a televised meeting on Thursday. “Now, it is necessary to think even more, if possible, on the lives and health of our soldiers and officers. There is no need to delve further into these catacombs, and crawl underground in these facilities”, he added.

The President of Russia took the opportunity to demand the closure of the industrial area, “so that pass not a fly, neither in nor out”.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Ukrainian defenders continued to resist. “They physically cannot take Azovstal, they understood that, they suffered huge losses there,” he said, in testimony reproduced by Reuters. Regarding Putin’s decision, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine stated that this only shows his “schizophrenic tendencies”.

At the meeting with Putin, Russian Defense Minister said that “The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the militias of the People’s Republic of Donetsk liberated Mariupol. The rest of the nationalist formations took refuge in the industrial area of ​​the Azovstal factory”.

According to the minister, Ukrainian guerrillas numbered more than 8,100 when the port city was besieged, with more than 4,000 being killed and 1.478 surrendered and became prisoners. Choigu admitted that at the steel mill there are 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers, and that it will take three to four days to “finish the work”.

Humanitarian Corridors

The government of Ukraine has demanded the opening of a humanitarian corridor from the Azovstal steelworks, to evacuate about a thousand civilians and 500 military, according to data presented by the country’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk. “All must be removed today”, demanded the member of the government. In addition, the deputy prime minister made an appeal, in a message posted on Telegram, “to world leaders and the international community, to focus their efforts on Azovstal now”.

The rest of Mariupol, which lies on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov, is practically destroyed by bombings from Moscow forces. The steel mill is the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance, being an intensely fortified installation. Altogether, there are about square kilometers, in the southeast of Mariupol, with tunnels and underground bunkers, which makes it difficult to take.

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