Ukraine terminated the defense of the Azovstal steelworks and, with it, the entire city of Mariupol, in the southeast of the country. Russia says the Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered and are now prisoners of war.
(You may be interested in: The Ukrainian army considers its mission in Mariúpol accomplished)
The battle in this city is over. It has been 83 days since Russia began the invasion of Ukraine, a period in which Azovstal became a symbol of resistance.
On May 11, the mayor of Mariúpol, Vadym Boichenko, assured that 20,000 civilians have been able to die in the city since the beginning of the war, on February 24.
The General Staff of the Army of Ukraine said on Tuesday that the soldiers who resisted Russian military forces at the Azovstal steel mill had fulfilled their mission, after having managed to evacuate more than 200 soldiers from the area.
“The Mariupol garrison fulfilled its combat mission. The Supreme Military Command ordered the commanders of the units stationed in Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel” who remain there, it said.
Russia, for its part, numbered 265 Ukrainian soldiers evacuated this Monday from the Azovstal steel millincluding 51 seriously wounded, who, after “laying down their arms and surrendering”, are now “prisoners” of war, according to the Defense Ministry.
(Also read: Ukraine: more than 260 Ukrainian fighters evacuated from Azovstal, Mariúpol)
What is Azovstal?
The metallurgical complex was the only enclave in the strategic port city of Mariupol still controlled by the Ukrainian army.. The rest of the city was taken by the Russian army on April 22.
Located in an industrial area on the shores of the Sea of Azov, its extensive network of bunkers and tunnels have been shelters for hundreds of civilians and soldiers for weeks.
The steel mill covers more than 11 square kilometers and contains countless buildings, blast furnaces and railway tracks. It first came into operation in 1933 and for decades was key to the Soviet Union’s railway and naval system.
This was the step by step of the invasion in Ukraine
Russian troops enter Ukraine through Crimea and launch a general offensive along the entire line of separation, from Stanitsa Luhanska, near the Russian border, to the port of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, the capture of which would allow them to create a land corridor to the annexed Crimean peninsula.
March 19.- Russia destroys the metallurgical plant of Azovstal, while the Ukraine admits that they cannot reinforce the defense of the city.
April 21.- Russia claims to have taken Mariúpol, although it admits that there is still a pocket of resistance in the Azovstal steelworks, whose assault it cancels.
(In other news: Russia pulls out of Kharkov: Ukraine retakes border control)
April 22.- Ukraine affirms that Russia wants to control the south and east, not only to establish a land corridor from Donbas to the annexed Crimean peninsula, but also to create an access point to the separatist and pro-Russian region of Transnistria, in the former Soviet republic of Moldova.
April 23.- Russia resumes air strikes against the Azovstal steelworks and also in Odessa.
April 25.- Russia declares a new ceasefire for the evacuation of civilians from Azovstal.
April 27.- The Russian Army continues with air attacks on the metallurgical plant. Meanwhile, the UN announces that it is preparing an operation together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to evacuate the civilian refugees in it as soon as possible.
May 1.- Ukraine manages to evacuate the first hundred civilian refugees in the steel mill.
May 3.- French President Emmanuel Macron calls on Russia to allow evacuations of the Azovstal steelworks to continue.
May 5.- Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterates that Russia is willing to facilitate the departure of civilians from Azovstal.
May 6.- Russia says that 50 civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal metallurgical plant, including 11 children, in a humanitarian operation.
May 7.- The rest of the civilians (women, children and the elderly) are evacuated from the steelworks and only the soldiers who are resisting the Russian troops remain there, as announced by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Iryna Vereshchuk.
May 9.- Russian troops resume the assault on the Azovstal plant, after a UN convoy left the Donetsk region.
May 11.- The Russian Army uses heavy artillery, tanks and bombardments from the air to attack the steel mill. The Ukrainian Ombudsman, Liudmyla Denisova, calls on the UN and the Red Cross to intervene to facilitate the evacuation of wounded soldiers.
May 12.- Ukrainian soldiers from the Azov regiment resist attacks by the Russian army, which has blocked the exits from the underground passages of the gigantic plant.
May 13.- Russian troops unsuccessfully try to break into the Azovstal steelworks, where a group of soldiers remains entrenched, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian resistance in that port city.
May 16.- Some 264 Ukrainian soldiers are evacuated throughout Monday from the Azovstal steelworks, after the agreement reached with Russia, according to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
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