Siege of Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol ends

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The siege of Azovstal is over. And the defenders of Mariupol have surrendered to the Russians.

On Friday the 531 Ukrainian defenders, the last remaining fighters, left the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. And surrendered to the Russians after over 30 days of constant bombardment.

The people inside the plant sought refuge from the bombing. And had no clean water, little food, and virtually no medical supplies. 

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Putin’s forces now have complete control of the largely abandoned port city. The defenders were under siege in the massive Azovstal steel mill which has been, all but, destroyed by the Russian bombings.

Despite the long siege, they were able to communicate with the Starlink internet system from Elon Musk.

The city of Mariupol and the siege of Azovstal leave conditions that have been compared to the Siege of Leningrad during WWII.

Russia claims victory in the Siege of Azovstal 

In a statement from Russia’s defense ministry Russia is claiming, ‘The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant has been completely liberated. The underground facilities of the enterprise, where the militants were hiding, came under the full control of the Russian armed forces.”

It said the last 531 people had surrendered to them, adding that 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days.

They also showed a video where a line of unarmed men approached Russian soldiers outside the plant and gave them names.

Each man and their possessions were searched. And the Russian soldiers also made the defenders show their tattoos. Many of the Azov regiment have the same tattoo.

Moscow has been calling the Azov militia who were defending the steel plant “Nazis”.  The unit formed in 2014 fought Russian-backed separatists in the first invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine asked defenders to stand down

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that the defenders had been told by the Russian military that if they could get out now, they could save their lives. And he ordered those left in the garrison to “stand down” on Monday.

It is unknown if Russia will honor the promise to let the defenders live.

The 2,439 that surrendered earlier in the week were mostly wounded and/or civilians. 

Defenders said Ukraine’s air force had tried to fly in medical supplies and food on many occasions. But they had been beaten back and took losses.

‘A very large number of our pilots died, sadly,’ Zelensky told Ukrainian television.

‘They were absolutely heroic people who knew it was hard, that to fly in there was almost impossible, to fly to Azovstal with medicine, food, water, and to bring back bodies and the wounded.’

Anton Gerashchenko of Ukraine’s interior ministry said the defense of the plant would be taught in military schools for years to come.

‘Do you understand what it is to amputate a limb without anesthetic? What you see in Hollywood horror movies is nothing compared to what the defenders of Azovstal saw and endured,’ Gerashenko told Ukrainian television before the Russian announcement.