Following a month and three weeks of intense fighting in Ukraine, Mariupol is still left standing despite almost 100% of its infrastructure being destroyed by Russian bombardment campaigns. While Ukrainian Forces from the Azov Battalion and the 36th Marine Brigade are still conducting counterattacks against the Russian forces within the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works complex, Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the city “liberated” and claimed that they had won the battle of Mariupol.

In a conversation he had with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during a televised meeting, Putin congratulated his defense minister as he “successfully completed the combat effort to liberate Mariupol.”

“Let me congratulate you on this occasion, and please convey my congratulations to the troops,” Putin told Shoigu.

After this exchange, Putin ordered Shoigu to cancel a supposed plan to storm the Azov Iron and Steel Works complex as he viewed it as an “unnecessary” undertaking. While he canceled the final attack to wipe out the remaining Ukrainian Forces in the complex, he also said it was necessary to block off the area so “not even a fly can get through.”  This would in effect result in starving the remaining defenders and the unknown number of civilians hiding in tunnels under the complex into final submission.