The Azovstal steel plant (Picture: Azov Media).
The Azovstal steel plant (Picture: Azov Media).

Russian forces 'take full control of Mariupol steel plant'

The Azovstal steel plant (Picture: Azov Media).
The Azovstal steel plant (Picture: Azov Media).

Russian forces have taken full control of the Mariupol steel plant, according to Moscow's defence minister.

The works were the final stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the city.

It marks the end of nearly three months of a siege that reduced much of Mariupol to ruins and left more than 20,000 people feared dead.

Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin on Friday that the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have been "completely liberated" from Ukrainian fighters.

Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the defence ministry as saying that a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters holed up at Azovstal have laid down their arms and surrendered since 16 May, including 531 on Friday.

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However, Ukrainian authorities said their troops have repelled a separate Russian attack in the east.

The Donbas is now President Vladimir Putin's focus after his troops failed to take the capital Kyiv in the early days of the war.

Pro-Moscow separatists have fought Ukrainian forces for eight years in the region and held a considerable swathe of it before Russia's invasion on February 24.

But the effort to take more territory there has been slow-going. In a sign of Russia's frustration with the war, some senior commanders have been fired in recent weeks, the UK Ministry of Defence said.

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