On April 21 (local time), Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declared that the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol had been ‘liberated’. He announced military operation at the port city to the south was successful and instructed that the Russian troops fighting in the city would be honoured with state awards.
As per reports, in an order to Sergei Shoigu, the Defense Minister of Russia, President Putin has asked to halt the attacks on the Azovstal industrial zone in Mariupol. He further directed the minister to completely block the zone so that no one could fly in or out. An offensive attack has been suspended in the area as it would reduce the casualties on the Russian side.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to cancel plans to storm the Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and said he wanted it to continue to be hermetically blockaded instead https://t.co/At2TCIbWZr pic.twitter.com/dEO5i8c3Cl— Reuters (@Reuters) April 21, 2022
The head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, said in a statement, “Before lunchtime, or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the forces of the Russian Federation.”
Azov Regiment of Ukraine declared in a statement that the Russian bombardment had completely destroyed the Azovastal plant in Mariupol. The said plant was the last stronghold of the Ukrainian forces. Azov Regiment and 36th Marine Brigade of Ukrainian forces had continued holding their positions at the plant while Russia marched forward to take over the city.
Earlier, the Russian defence minister had offered the Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms at the Azovstal plant. He had threatened if refused, the Russian force would completely destroy it. However, the Ukrainian forces had decided not to surrender.
Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of Russia’s National Defense Management Centre, said in a statement that the offer to the Ukrainian forces was made amid the catastrophic situation developed at the plant. He said it was “also guided by purely humane principles”. Despite the heavy attack on the city from land, air and sea, around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers stationed at the plant kept fighting till 6 AM Moscow time.
After the announcement, Putin called on the rest of the Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal to lay down their arms. He promised them that Russia would treat them with respect and provide necessary medical attention.
Reports suggest thousands of civilians have died in the intense attack on the city that lasted for over a month. As per reports, Ukraine claimed heavy bombs were dropped by Russia that flattened the plant. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky had claimed over 1,000 civilians were also trapped in the plant. Russia, however, says that it is the Azov Batallion that is holding the civilians hostage inside the plant complex.
It is notable here that Mariupol has been the base of the neo-Nazi Azov Batallion and the infamous Batallion has been rejecting the Russian offers for surrender. Control of Mariupol gives Russia complete control over the Sea of Azov and helps in creating a land bridge to Crimea.