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Russia claims to capture Mariupol with the biggest victory ever

POKROVSK, Ukraine (AP)

The biggest victory ever in the war with Ukraine is Russia’s claim to occupy Mariupol.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has reported to President Vladimir Putin the “complete liberation” of Mariupol’s Azovstal iron and city, the last base of Ukraine’s resistance, spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. Said on Friday.

There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry that a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters trapped in steelworks, including more than 500 on Friday, surrendered from Monday.

When they surrendered, the troops were taken prisoner by the Russians and at least some were taken to the former penal colony. Others were said to be hospitalized.

The defense of the steelworks was led by the Ukrainian Azov Battalion. Its far-right origin was confiscated by the Kremlin as part of an effort to throw an invasion as a battle against the Nazi influence in Ukraine. Russia said the commander of the Azov Battalion was taken from the factory in an armored vehicle.

Russian officials have investigated some of the defenders of the steelworks for war crimes and threatened to bring them to justice under the name “Nazis” as criminals. It aroused international fears about their destiny.

The 11-square-kilometer (4-square-mile) steelworks have been a fierce battleground for weeks. A group of declining fighters pulled in and held up Russian airstrikes, artillery and tank fires before their government ordered them to abandon factory defenses and save themselves.

The complete takeover of Mariupol brings Putin the terribly needed victory in the war that began on February 24th. The number of troops to refocus on eastern Ukraine, and the sinking of the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Military analysts said that Mariupol’s capture at this point was of almost symbolic importance, as Mariupol was virtually under Moscow control and most of the Russian troops detained by the battle there had already left. Said there was.

In another development on Friday, the West poured billions of dollars into Ukraine and was furious at Donbus, the industrial center of eastern Ukraine, where Putin is devoted to occupation.

According to Ukrainian officials, Russian troops bombarded important highways, continued to attack major cities in the Luhansk region, and attacked schools elsewhere. Luhansk is part of the Don Bus.

The Kremlin sought control of Mariupol, completed a land route between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, occupied it from Ukraine in 2014, and freed its troops to participate in the larger battle of Donbus. The loss of the city also robs Ukraine of an important port.

Mariupol’s endured some of the worst sufferings of war and became a global symbol of rebellion. An estimated 100,000 people remained in the prewar population of 450,000, many of whom were trapped in the absence of food, water, heat and electricity. Constant bombardment left a row in a row of shattered or hollowed-out buildings.

On March 9, a maternity hospital was hit by a deadly airstrike in Russia, and a scorching image of a pregnant woman evacuating from the location was created. A week later, it was reported that about 300 people were killed in the bombing of a theater where civilians were evacuated, but the actual death toll could be close to 600.

Satellite images in April showed what appeared to be a mass grave just outside Mariupol. Local officials have accused Russia of burying up to 9,000 civilians and concealing the slaughter.

Earlier this month, hundreds of civilians fled the factory during a humanitarian fire and talked about the fear of constant bombing, the dampness of the basement, and the fear that they couldn’t survive. ..

Near the end of Azovstal, the wives of the fighters who worked hard at the steelworks said what they were afraid of would be their last contact with their husbands.

Olga Boyko, the wife of the Marines, wiped her tears, saying her husband wrote to her on Thursday. We surrender. I don’t know when to contact you and if I will. I love you. to kiss. Goodbye. “

Natalia Zaritskaya, wife of another Azovstal fighter, said, based on the messages she saw in the last two days: Every corner of this road is deadly. “

She said two days ago her husband reported that of the 32 soldiers he served, only eight survived and most were seriously injured.

Russia described the troops leaving the steel mill as mass surrender, but the Ukrainians called it mission fulfillment. They said fighters detained Moscow’s troops and blocked their bids to occupy the east.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser, Muihai Lopodryak, described Mariupol’s defense as “thermopylae of the 21st century.” This is one of the most illustrious defeats in history in which 300 Spartans stopped a much larger Persian army in 480 BC. Before finally giving in.

In other developments on Friday:

— Zelenskyy said that all homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses that Russia destroys need to be paid. He asked Ukrainian partners to seize Russian funds and property under their jurisdiction and use them to create a fund to compensate those in distress.

Russia “will feel the true weight of every missile, every bomb, every shell it fires at us,” he said in a nightly video speech.

— A group of seven major economies and financial institutions around the world have agreed to provide more funding to strengthen Ukraine’s finances, for a total of $ 19.8 billion. In the United States, President Joe Biden was expected to sign a $ 40 billion package of military and economic assistance to Ukraine and its allies.

— A few days after Finland applied for NATO membership, Russia will cut off natural gas to Finland on Saturday, the Finnish national energy company said. Finland has rejected Moscow’s request to pay gas in the ruble. The cutoff is not expected to have a significant impact immediately. According to the Finnish broadcaster YLE, natural gas accounted for only 6% of Finland’s total energy consumption in 2020.

— A captured Russian soldier accused of murdering a civilian was waiting for his fate in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial. Sgt. 21-year-old Vadim Sisimarin could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

—Russian lawmakers have proposed a bill to raise the age limit for Russians volunteering for military service to 40. Currently, all Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 have to work for one year, but many have been postponed to college or other exemptions.

Russia claims to capture Mariupol with the biggest victory ever

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