Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's republic of Chechnya, said Russia’s forces have seized complete control of the Azovstal steel plant, the main remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged port city of Mariupol, state news agency TASS reported on Thursday.
“Mariupol is ours!... The city has been taken completely and irrevocably... The administrative building of the Azovstal metallurgical plant, which is of particular strategic importance, has been taken under control, and the entire adjacent territory has been cleared,” Kadyrov said.
He added that the remaining Ukrainian soldiers who were sheltering in the plant alongside civilians “are blocked under thickness of concrete and iron on the territory of the plant.”
Earlier on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in Mariupol and called off an operation to storm the Azovstal steel plant.
According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian troops were “three to four days” away from seizing control of the plant, state news agency TASS reported.
But Putin called off the offensive. He ordered that the plant be “blocked so that even a fly can’t get in or out,” and the Ukrainians inside be offered to lay down their arms in exchange for amnesty.