When Russian forces took over the besieged port city of Mariupol, a Ukrainian commander said the remaining soldiers were told to cease their defenses.
Ukraine’s top military leadership has ordered the last remaining soldiers in the fallen city of Mariupol to cease their defenses.
A video shared by Lieutenant Colonel. Denis Prokopenko from inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol said an order has been issued to “preserve the life and health of the garrison soldiers and to stop defending the city,” CNN reports.
“Despite heavy fighting… and lack of supplies, we constantly emphasized the three most important conditions for us: civilians, wounded and dead. Civilians were evacuated,” he said.
This comes when the besieged city surrenders to Russian forces on May 20 after a bloody 82-day siege. The standoff at Azovstal was Ukraine’s last stronghold against Russian forces.
In light of the surrender, Lieutenant Colonel Prokopenko said he hoped wounded fighters would be evacuated to Ukrainian-occupied areas.
“The seriously injured received the necessary help; they were evacuated with further exchange and delivery [planned] to the Ukraine-controlled area,” he continued.
“As for the fallen heroes, the process is underway. But I hope that in the near future, families and all of Ukraine will be able to bury their soldiers honorably.”
It is believed that several hundred fighters remain in Ukraine’s last stronghold against enemy forces. Moscow has officially declared victory over the steel plant.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is believed to have suggested that their soldiers captured the Azovstal steel plant, thereby completing the Mariupol takeover, AP News reported.
They said Shoigu reported the news directly to President Vladimir Putin, with Russian state news agency RIA Novosti stating that a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered since Monday.
Some of the surrendered soldiers have been taken prisoner, others to a former penal colony and some hospitalized.
The fall of Mariupol also meant that Russia won one of its biggest victories over Ukraine since the invasion. It is believed that the battle for the port city was based on a strategic game to ensure that a land corridor could exist between Donbas – where vicious fighting continues – and the Russian-occupied peninsula of Crimea.
During the Russian invasion of Mariupol, the city experienced some of the worst bombing and attacks by enemy forces.
From the start of the invasion, Moscow bombarded the city with artillery and rockets, while trying to cut off civilians from electricity, food, water, heating and medical supplies.
An airstrike on the city’s No. 3 maternity hospital was also internationally condemned as a war crime and human rights violation, in which the bombing killed at least four people and resulted in one stillbirth.
As a result of the battle, the entire city has been mobilized and although an exact number is unknown, the number of civilian casualties is estimated at thousands.
In one of the most horrific attacks, an estimated 600 civilians have been killed in another airstrike on the Donetsk regional drama theater – which was used as an air raid shelter.
Originally published as Ukraine issues order to halt defense of Mariupol as Russia takes over