Russia reports the liberation of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol (eastern Ukraine), following the surrender of a major neo-Nazi ringleader and all Ukrainian servicemen.
694 Ukrainian Soldiers Surrender at Azovstal Steel Plant
"The Azovstal steel plant site in Mariupol – blockaded by Ukrainian members of the Nazi Azov battalion since April 21 – has been completely liberated," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Friday.
Konashenkov detailed that as of this Monday, 2439 Ukrainian servicemen concentrated at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol have laid down their arms and surrendered. "Today, May 20, the last group of 531 militiamen surrendered," he added.
The Russian Defense Ministry also confirmed the surrender of Denis Prokopenko, the commander of the so-called Azov battalion - a far-right military unit of neo-Nazi volunteers operating in Ukraine as a reserve force of the country's Armed Forces.
In this regard, he noted that the neo-Nazi ringleader was removed from the plant in a special armored vehicle, as he is hated by the residents of Mariupol, who want him punished for numerous atrocities he has committed in the region.
Konashenkov also announced the surrender of the commander of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Ukrainian Navy, Sergey Volynski, involved in the conflict in the Donbas since 2014.
The Ukrainian government reported on Monday the evacuation of 264 servicemen from Azovstal, for which President Volodymir Zelensky celebrated that "we hope we will be able to save the lives of our boys".
Thus, the strategic Ukrainian city of Mariupol comes fully under Russian control, a major focal point of the fighting in recent times.
Mariupol is a strategic enclave with an outlet to the Sea of Azov and the seizure of this city by the Russian Army would be vital to establish a land corridor leading from the Donbas region (east) to Crimea.
Mariupol is also considered the main port of the Donbas, a region which, in turn, is home to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. On the other hand, Russian troops continue to advance on the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, also located in the east.