President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered the Russian military to cancel plans to storm the Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, saying he wanted it instead to remain hermetically blocked.
Putin gave the order to Sergei Shoigu, his defense minister, who previously told Putin that more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were still holed up in the massive facility, which has a large underground component.
“I think the planned storming of the industrial area is unnecessary,” Putin Shoigu said at a television session in the Kremlin. “I order you to cancel it.”
Putin said his decision not to storm the Azovstal plant was motivated by a desire to protect the lives of Russian soldiers.
“There’s no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial plants,” he said. “Seal off this industrial area so no fly can get through.”
Putin also called on the remaining Ukrainian fighters in Azovstal who had not yet surrendered, saying Russia would treat them with respect and provide medical assistance to the injured.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what it called a special operation to weaken its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and root out people it described as dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces put up fierce resistance, and the West imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia to force it to withdraw its forces.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/21/putin-cancels-russian-plans-to-storm-azovstal-steel-plant-in-mariupol-ukraine/ Putin scraps Russian plans to storm the Azovstal Steel Plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol