MOSCOW, April 21. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called off an operation to storm the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariuol, where over 2,000 Ukrainian militants remain entrenched, according to the Russian military. At a meeting with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, the head of state demanded that the plant be blocked so that "even a fly can’t get in or out," and another offer to surrender be made to those holed up at the facility. TASS has put together vital information on decisions made by the commander-in-chief.
Liberation of Mariupol
Russian troops and the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have taken control of the entire city of Mariupol except for the Azovstal plant, Shoigu reported to the president. According to the defense chief, the plant, where "the remaining nationalist militants and foreign mercenaries are ensconced," has been securely blocked. Shoigu pointed out that the Kiev regime had significantly fortified Mariupol where about 8,100 troops, militants from nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries were stationed at the time when the city was surrounded. Over 4,000 Ukrainian fighters were killed during military activities and another almost 1,500 surrendered to Russia. However, Shoigu did not reveal the number of Russian casualties.
Russian and DPR forces took every measure to protect civilian lives during the operation to liberate Mariupol, the defense minister stressed. Starting on March 21, humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians and foreign nationals opened every day, Russia managed to evacuate 142,700 people and release all those who were being held hostage at the Mariupol port. The current situation in the city "makes it possible to launch activities to restore order, ensure the return of local residents and set up peaceful life," Shoigu added.
Storming the steel complex called off
According to Shoigu, Russian troops would need "about three to four days" to take control of Azovstal, where over 2,000 people remain at the moment. However, Putin called off a potential offensive, saying that it would be unreasonable. "In this case, we need to think about - I mean, we always need to think about it, but particularly in this case - we need to think about preserving the life and health of our soldiers and officers. There’s no reason to penetrate through these subterranean pathways and beneath these industrial facilities," the head of state explained.
He ordered that Azovstal be blocked "so that even a fly can’t get in or out" and everyone be offered to lay down their arms. "Russia guarantees their lives and appropriate treatment under the relevant international laws. All those wounded will be provided with quality medical care," the president emphasized.
Awards and commemoration
Putin hailed the liberation of Mariupol as a great success, offering congratulations to Shoigu and asking the defense chief to convey his gratitude to the armed forces. Putin suggested that apart from "ensuring the unconditional implementation of all social guarantees" for the families of those killed in the battle for the city, as well as for those wounded, "in some cases, there is a need to consider ways to commemorate" the troops who "demonstrated true courage and sacrificed their lives." The president asked the defense chief to submit proposals on presenting state awards to those who had distinguished themselves during the liberation of Mariupol. "I would like them all to know that we all view them as heroes. This is how the entire Russian people view them," Putin stressed.