‘Mariupol has been liberated,’ Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin during a televised meeting.
The remaining nationalist formations took refuge in the industrial zone of the Azovstal plant.’
Russian troops are continuing their assault, as Putin called off the offensive on the steel plant, Ukraine’s last pocket of resistance in the city. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoig said around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers remained inside the giant steel plant, as thousands of civilians are believed to have died in the besieged city.
Putin had earlier claimed the ‘liberation’ of the city after nearly two months of fighting.
Four buses carrying evacuees, consisting of women, children and the elderly, managed to leave the besieged port city on Wednesday through a humanitarian corridor.
Ukrainian negotiator and presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that Ukraine is ready to enter into talks with Russia.
Ukraine President Zelensky said Ukraine still did not have enough weapons, despite billions in Western military aid helping aid a resistance, that effectively caused Russia to strategically mount an offensive in the east of the country.
US President Joe Biden is set to announce an additional $800 million package of military assistance to Ukraine, as the West remains cautious about stoking a direct conflict with Russia.
Biden said he was ‘amazed’ by Ukrainian resistance since the invasion began on February 24.
‘They’re tougher and more proud than I thought,’ he said.
Ukrainian authorities believe those sheltering in the plant to be without access to drinking water or food.
The Ukrainian defenders said they were refusing to surrender but appealed for security guarantees.
‘We are pleading so we can collect the bodies of the dead, so the civilians can calmly walk out from Azovstal,’ said Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the far-right Azov Regiment.
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