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The last Ukrainian troops holed up in the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol surrendered on Friday night, Russia’s defence ministry claimed.
The final 531 troops have left and the plant “has been completely liberated”, the ministry said. Ukrainian authorities did not immediately respond.
"Since May 16, 2,439 Nazis from the Azov (regiment) and Ukrainian troops blocked in the factory have surrendered. Today, May 20, the last group of 531 fighters gave themselves up," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
On Friday, the Ukrainian government urged the troops inside the steel works to give up fighting.
Hundreds of men walked, limped or were carried out of the destroyed steelworks.
But instead of following his men on to waiting Russian trucks and buses on Friday afternoon, Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a commander in the Azov Battalion, taunted his Russian attackers.
"Me and other commanders are still in the Azovstal plant. A certain operation is going on but I won't disclose its details", he said. "Thank you to the whole world and thanks to Ukraine for the support. See you!"
However, most of the besieged Ukrainian soldiers appeared keen to follow their orders.
In a video posted online, another Azov Battalion commander said he would surrender.
“The higher military command has given the order to save the lives of the soldiers of our garrison and to stop defending the city,” Denys Prokopenko said in a video on Telegram.
Meanwhile, photos appeared to capture the bittersweet mood amongst the surrendering soldiers.
In them, two soldiers strike poses while surrounded by the twisted metal of the ruined Azovstal steelworks.
“Well, that’s all. Thank you for the shelter, Azovstal – the place of my death and my life,” Dmyrto Kozatsky, a soldier, wrote alongside the photos. He added that he was already in “captivity”.
The Azov Battalion’s defiance for nearly three months against the Russian army in the city of Mariupol has become a major rallying point for Ukraine.
The soldiers have been described as “heroes” and the UK Ministry of Defence said that their resistance had severely dented Russia’s war plans.