The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Saturday that it had freed the entire urban area of Mariupol from Ukrainian forces and said that only a few fighters remained at the Azovstal steelworks, the scene of several clashes.
in a publication onlinethe ministry said that by April 16, Ukrainian forces in the besieged port city had lost more than 4,000 people.
Russian fighters have been trying for several weeks to seize the port, which is on the Sea of Azov, northeast of the Black Sea.
“The entire urban area of Mariupol has been completely liberated… the remnants of the Ukrainian group are completely blocked on the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant,” the ministry said.
“The only chance for them to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their weapons and surrender.”
There was no immediate reaction from Kiev to the Russian ministry’s statement, which also said 1,464 Ukrainian servicemen had surrendered so far.