MOSCOW — Russia’s defense chief says the country’s forces have taken full control of the massive steel plant in Mariupol that was the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the city.
That would mark the end of a nearly three-month siege that reduced much of Ukraine's vital Black Sea port of Mariupol to ruins and left over 20,000 people feared dead.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol has been “completely liberated” from Ukrainian fighters.
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying that a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at Azovstal have laid down their arms and surrendered since May 16, including 531 on Friday.
There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine that Mariupol had fallen completely to the Russians.