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The Russian army has on Thursday announced that it had taken complete control of Mariupol’s largely destroyed port, having liberated it from the Azov Battalion, a right-wing extremist paramilitary group.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the remaining Ukrainian troops in the city had been blocked and were unable to escape encirclement.

The city of Mariupol has been under siege for weeks, with the remaining residents forced to hold out without water, food or power.

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The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that Russian troops would probably capture the city next week.

Mariupol is of strategic importance to Moscow as Russia seeks to establish a land bridge between the Donbas region and the occupied Crimean Peninsula.

Moscow’s forces were focusing their attacks on the east and south of Ukraine and analysts predict a major new offensive in the region in the near future.

Meanwhile, efforts were underway in northern Ukraine to clear large quantities of unexploded ordnance left behind by retreating Russian troops.

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Mine clearance is ongoing as tens of thousands of unexploded shells and mines have been left in the region, according to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence noted that urban centres in Ukraine faced repeated indiscriminate attacks from Russia.

However, a top Ukrainian official rejected Russian claims that it had taken control of the port in Mariupol, and over 1,000 Ukrainian troops surrendered in the besieged south-eastern port city.

As the battle for Kyiv’s sovereignty continued for the 50th day, advisor to Ukraine’s Interior Minister Vadym Denysenko denied any information on the mass surrender highlighting that Mariupol still had not fallen.

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The ancient port city of Mariupol is one of the key areas of contention between Russia and Ukraine.

According to the city’s mayor Vadym Boychenko, there are still 1,20,000 people trapped inside the city in dire need of water, food, and warmth.

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