The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced the establishment of full control over the territory of Azovstal.
According to the agency, yesterday, on May 20, the last group of fighters of the Azov battalion – 531 people, including unit commanders, left the basements of the plant. In total, since May 16, as reported DW, 2439 Ukrainian military were captured, who held the defense of Azovstal for more than two months. The underground facilities of the plant are taken under the control of the Russian Armed Forces.
Azov commander Denis Prokopenko confirmed on video that the special forces unit, the last hotbed of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, had laid down their arms:
“The high military command gave the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and stop the defense of the city.”
Further the fate of the Ukrainian fighters is unknown: this week a draft law on prohibition of exchange Nazi criminals. And at the front, as analysts believe, the surrender of the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol allows Russia to free up forces in other directions in the Donbass. On Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said:
“Units of the Russian Armed Forces, together with the divisions of the people’s militia of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, continue to strengthen control over the territories of Donbass. The liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic is nearing completion.”
Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said:
“The territory of the metallurgical plant “Azovstal” in Mariupol, where since April 21 <...> the group of Ukrainian militants of the Nazi formation “Azov” was blocked, has been completely liberated.”
Sergei Shoigu reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the complete liberation of Mariupol from Ukrainian militants, reports RIA News. The underground facilities of the plant came under the control of Russian troops. The ministry noted that since May 16, during the operation, 2,439 military men blocked on the territory of the plant laid down their arms and surrendered. Yesterday, the last group of 531 people surrendered. The commander of “Azov” was taken out of the territory of the plant in a special armored car.