Russia has claimed victory in the months-long battle in the city of Mariupol after taking control of the Avostal steel plant, one step closer to its goal of controlling the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
The last Ukrainian forces hiding in Azovstal surrendered on May 20, ending the largest encirclement in the conflict, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The troops were seen heading to the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka near Donetsk.
A local resident walks past a destroyed building after a missile attack on the university campus in Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, May 21, 2022.
Meanwhile, Moscow has launched a major offensive to take control of the last Ukrainian-held territory in Luhansk, part of the Donbass region.
Russian-backed separatists controlled much of the territory there before fighting broke out on February 24.
The governor of the Luhansk region wrote on social media early on May 21 that Russia was trying to control the city of Sievierodonetsk, as fighting was taking place on the outskirts of the city.