The Russian Defense Ministry stated last Wednesday that some 959 Ukrainian troops from the Azovstal Iron and Steelworks Plant have surrendered after three long months of repelling Russian advances in the besieged port city of Mariupol. If determined to be accurate, this signals that Mariupol has now wholly fallen under Russian control.

Previously, SOFREP reported that 260 Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant had been transported to Olenivka and Novoazovsk, Russian-controlled cities. The Ukrainian side is hoping that both parties will agree upon a prisoner exchange. However, seeing that peace talks between the two nations have officially been suspended, the Mariupol defenders’ fate is now left with the Russians, which have not been the best people to deal with amid mounting evidence of war crimes in Ukraine.

These troops, specifically those from the Azov Regiment and the 36th Marine Brigade, among others, are highly regarded as heroes in Ukraine for dogged tenacity in defending Ukrainian territory against overwhelming Russian forces. The Ukrainian government credits those who defended the Azovstal steel plant as instrumental in preventing the Russians from advancing further, preventing 17 battalion tactical groups comprised of 20,000 soldiers from capturing more key areas.

“The goal was that our guys, who heroically defend the city and restrain the enemy directly in Mariupol, did not allow them to pass through Mariupol,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said to VOA News. “That is, they saved the nation, they allowed the Armed Forces of Ukraine to prepare and other cities to be more prepared for this terrible war that has already taken place in Ukraine.”