Putin Calls Off Storming Mariupol Plant, but Orders Blockade

Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would be “impractical” to attack the plant in Mariupol where Ukrainian forces were holding out, and tried to claim a victory in the besieged city even though his forces have been unable to subdue the remaining Ukrainians. 

The Ukrainians have given no indication whatsoever they will be surrendering, The New York Times reports.

Putin made comments on national television in an effort to assert control of Mariupol, which in actuality Russian forces have failed to fully capture despite bombarding and besieging the city for two months. 

In a meeting aired yesterday on state Russian television between Putin and the Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu, Shoigu said that all of Mariupol was under Russian control besides the plant, and claimed it would take three to four days to “finish the work.” Putin said it would be “impractical” to storm the plant. “I order it to be canceled,” Putin said.

The Russian assault on Mariupol has already killed tens of thousands of civilians. 

Mariupol’s mayor has called for a ceasefire, and renewed calls for a humanitarian ceasefire yesterday in order to allow civilians trapped in the besieged city to leave. It came a day after four busses with evacuees managed to leave finally. 

It is not clear if any evacuation corridors will apply to the hundreds of civilians believed to be sheltering in bunkers in the Mariupol steel plant alongside Ukrainian soldiers. Putin has said his forces are ordered to make sure “not even a fly” could pass through the blockade of the plant. 

In his nightly address last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated pleas for international allies to send “serious and heavy arms.” 

Russia meanwhile has expanded its assault across eastern Ukraine. More weaponry has been added, and its forces continue to make minor territorial gains along the 300-mile front according to military analysts. 

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