Russia claims to have captured Mariupol

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Russian soldier in Mariupol.
Russian soldier in Mariupol. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

Russia on Saturday claimed to have taken complete control of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, potentially notching a huge victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin's ongoing offensive, The Associated Press reports. There was no immediate confirmation of the news from Ukraine.

Russia's Defense Ministry said that a final 532 Ukrainian soldiers had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant and taken to Russian-controlled territory, per The Wall Street Journal. Overall, the weeks-long attack left thousands dead.

At this point, Russia's presumed capture of the city is mostly symbolic, considering Moscow was already effectively in control of the area, military analysts said, per AP.

Meanwhile, Russia has "intensified an offensive in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine," — Luhansk, specifically, Reuters reports. Russian-backed separatists already control much of the region, "but Moscow wants to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory." Capturing both Luhansk and Donetsk would also allow Putin to declare victory, given the Kremlin's recent shift in objective, the Journal notes.

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