This handout video grab taken from a footage released by Mariupol City Council on April 19, 2022 shows clouds of smoke billowing above Azovstal steel plant and the destroyed gates of Azov Shipyard. (HANDOUT / MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL / AFP)
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a blockade of the Azovstal plant in the port city of Mariupol instead of storming it, local media reported.
The order was given after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that the Russian military had controlled Mariupol apart from the plant where Ukrainian servicemen were still holed up, according to the report.
The order was given after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that the Russian military had controlled Mariupol apart from the plant where Ukrainian servicemen were still holed up
Putin said plans to storm the plant were "inappropriate" during a meeting with Shoigu, preferring a blockade instead, the Kremlin said.
"We must always think about preserving the lives and health of our soldiers and officers," Putin said, adding that the industrial area should nonetheless be blocked off entirely "so a single fly doesn't pass through."
Shoigu said more than 2,000 militants are currently blocked inside the plant, adding that the operation there would be completed within three or four days.
"We once again offer everyone who has not yet laid down their arms to do so," Putin said, adding that those soldiers who do so would be spared and receive necessary medical attention.
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