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Russia captures Mariupol and order for blockade of steel plant

picture courtesy: Getty images

The Russian army has captured Ukraine's largest port city of Mariupol. President Vladimir Putin declares victory over the city. He said "We have liberated the city", after Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told him Moscow controlled the Ukrainian port city apart from the giant Azovstal steel plant.

Taking full control of Mariupol on the Azov Sea would be a major strategic victory for Russia, helping it to connect annexed Crimea to the territories of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Shoigu said around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers remained inside the plant, where the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance has been sheltering, using the facility's network of underground tunnels.

But the president tells them to seal it up so even a "fly" cannot escape, and says Russia has control of the strategic port city

"There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities. Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape," Putin said.

Thousands of civilians are believed to have died in the city, which was besieged by Russian troops for over a month, with little access to food, water and with no electricity.

The mayor of besieged Mariupol claimed invading troops had been ordered to shoot remaining civilians if they don't wear 'white ribbons' on their clothes to indicate surrender.

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