Russian troops had previously been ordered to storm the Azovstal plant in the strategically important Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. The fall of the city into Russian hands appeared just last week to be imminent. Respected military analysts had warned Ukrainian soldiers could be forced to surrender “within hours”. But the resistance against Russia’s efforts has been maintained and Putin has ordered his troops to attempt another strategy for taking the plant and the wider city.
Just two days ago, on April 19, Ukrainian fighters in the Mariupol plant were given hours to surrender or be killed.
Moscow insisted troops must leave “without any weapons and without ammunition”.
Today, on April 21, Ukrainian resistance appears to have paid off, with Putin shifting his objectives in a sign storming the steel plant was destined to fail (or, perhaps, had already failed).
He told Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in a televised meeting: “I consider the proposed storming of the industrial zone unnecessary. I order you to cancel it.”