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Russia: Remaining 531 Azovstal defenders surrender, steelworks siege over

Russian troops are in full control of the Azovstal steelworks and all Ukrainian fighters that had been holed up there have surrendered, the Defence Ministry in Moscow said on Friday night. The sprawling industrial site in the port city of Mariupol was encircled shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Reuters WORLD
Published May 20,2022

Russia's defense ministry on Friday said the last group of Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol's smashed Azovstal steelworks had surrendered, marking an end to a weeks-long siege.

"The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant ... has been completely liberated," the ministry said in a statement. It said the group that had given up comprised 531 people.

The full abandonment of the bunkers and tunnels of the bombed-out plant means an end to the most destructive siege of a war that began when Russia invaded Ukraine nearly three months ago.

Ukraine ordered the garrison to stand down on Monday. Hours before the Russian announcement, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the defenders had been told by Ukraine's military that they could get out and save their lives and would most likely all leave in the coming days.

"The underground facilities of the enterprise, where the militants were hiding, came under the full control of the Russian armed forces," said the Russian statement, adding that a total of 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has told President Vladimir Putin that both Mariupol and the steel plant have been fully liberated, it said.