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Now Russia is claiming Mariupol, Ukraine is completely under its control after the capitulation of Ukrainian troops from the metallurgical plant “Azovstal”, according to a senior Russian government official.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin that the Russian military has seen the “complete liberation” of the Ukrainian port city, which has been at the center of the Ukrainian-Russian war for several weeks. It is the tenth largest city in the country and the second largest in the Donetsk region, where most of the fighting took place.
Mariupol also has a strategic function, as it is located on the Sea of Azov, which provides Russia’s homeland with a direct route to its military forces in Crimea. Its downfall, which could not be verified independently, would undoubtedly be Russia’s greatest victory in the current conflict.
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the city had died as a result of the surrender of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters, much more than previously reported.
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The Ukrainian military remains in the basement of the metallurgical plant for several weeks. Many of the soldiers were seriously injured, some even lacking limbs that the medical crew was unable to properly treat.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the evacuation of several hundred Ukrainian servicemen and civilians to ensure their safety and survival.
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During a speech on Wednesday, Zelensky said that any occupation of Ukrainian cities by Russian forces would be “temporary.”
“Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Energodar, Mariupol and all our cities and towns that are under occupation – under temporary occupation – should know that Ukraine will return,” he said.
During his address on Friday, the President of Ukraine continued to thank Ukrainian fighters and civilians who oppose the occupation of Ukraine.
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“I want to thank our people who do not stop fighting the occupation,” Zelensky said during his address on Friday night. “And especially those who are now in the territory that is temporarily under the control of Russia, its army. In particular, the rescuers in Energodar, who protested today, deserve support from all of us. Thank you.”
“Everyone must show that the occupiers have no right to decide anything on our land. This is an important component of our victory,” he added.
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One of Zelensky’s advisers, Mikhail Podalak, had previously compared the battle of Mariupol to the Battle of Thermopylae, when Persian troops invaded Greece and defeated a group of 300 Spartans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.