Russian Defense Minister Shoigu told Putin that Russian forces have managed to capture Mariupol on Thursday, with two thousand Ukrainian soldiers blockaded in the Azovstal industrial complex.
“Today, the entire Mariupol is under the control of the Russian army, the people’s militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic, and the territory of the Azovstal plant with the remnants of nationalists and foreign mercenaries located [there] is securely blocked,” he said.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Thursday demanded Russia urgently allow the evacuation of civilians and wounded soldiers from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol via a humanitarian corridor.
“There are about 1,000 civilians and 500 wounded soldiers there. They all need to be pulled out of Azovstal today,” Vereshchuk said in an online post.
Shoigu claimed that the Russian Armed Forces need three to four days to complete the assault on Azovstal, where the soldiers are entrenched.
Putin, in response to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, called the assault on the Azovstal industrial complex in Mariupol “unnecessary” and ordered it to be canceled.
“This is the case when we must think – that is, we must always think, but even more so in this case – about preserving the life and health of our soldiers and officers. There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground along these industrial facilities,” Putin said.
“There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities. Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape,” Putin said.
Russian forces are advancing from staging areas in Donbas towards Kramatorsk, which continues to be hit by rocket attacks, a British military update said on Thursday.
High levels of Russian air activity continue as it seeks to provide close air support to its offensive in eastern Ukraine, and to suppress and destroy Ukrainian air defense capabilities, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.
“Russia likely desires to demonstrate significant successes ahead of their annual 9th May Victory Day celebrations. This could affect how quickly and forcefully they attempt to conduct operations in the run-up to this date,” the tweet added.