“Putin is being as degrading and as horrid and as appalling as he possibly can be. He wants to effectively strangle and suffocate them where they are. It’s an appalling catastrophe.”
Mariupol steelworks: ‘Block it so a fly can’t pass,’ Putin orders…
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his troops to seal off Ukrainian defenders inside the besieged port city of Mariupol. Mr Putin told forces to abandon plans to storm the sprawling Azovstal steel works there, where Ukraine is still resisting the invaders.
But an official in the controversial Azov battalion said Mr Putin “has just admitted their possible defeat”.
“They’re not able to occupy the Azovstal,” Maksym Zhorin told the BBC.
The Azovstal Iron and Steel Works – a massive, four sq-mile (10 sq km) plant in the south-east of the city has become the last centre of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. Civilians as well as fighters are inside the plant.
Taking the port city is a key war aim for President Putin. It would give his forces a land bridge to Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which Russia occupied in 2014.
But despite controlling most of the city, the Russians still have not dislodged the Ukrainian troops inside the Azovstal works.
At a televised meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday 21st April 2022, Mr Putin officially cancelled plans to assault the works and ordered instead that the area be sealed off. “Block off this industrial area so that a fly cannot not pass through,” he said. “There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities,” he said, while praising Mr Shoigu for the successful operation to “liberate Mariupol” from Ukraine.
It comes after weeks of Russian bombardment of the area, and repeated demands for Ukrainian troops within to surrender.
Lord Dannatt, former chief of the general staff, talks to Mariella Frostrup about the Russian Invasion of Crimea.