Politics Putin claims victory in Mariupol, but thousands of Ukrainians...

Putin claims victory in Mariupol, but thousands of Ukrainians remain in steel mill: Live updates

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Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed his troops were victorious in the battle for Mariupol, despite the fact that thousands of Ukrainian troops remain in the giant Azovstal steel mill complex.

Putin ordered his troops not to storm the stronghold but to seal it off “so that not even a fly comes through.”

Russia has ceaselessly bombarded the port city for almost two months and appears to control most of the city. But a few thousand Ukrainian troops, by Moscow’s estimate, have stubbornly held out for weeks at the steel plant. Ukrainian officials also said about 1,000 civilians are also trapped there.

US President Joe Biden pushed back on Putin’s claims that Mariupol had fallen to Russia.

“It’s questionable whether he controls Mariupol,” Biden said. “There’s no evidence yet that Mariupol has completely fallen.”

Hours after Putin declared victory, satellite images showed what appeared to be mass graves near Mariupol, and the city’s mayor said Russian troops have buried as many as 9,000 civilians killed in the conflict in a nearby mass grave in order to cover up “military crimes.”

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Latest developments:

►US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III will travel to Germany next week to meet with a handful of nations to discuss the current and future defense needs of Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.

PresidentUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for the new package of $ 800 million in military aid, which he said was “just what we were waiting for.”

Russia says it’s gained access to Ukrainian Secret Service staff data

A Russian state media reported Thursday that Russian security forces have received full information about all of Ukraine’s Secret Service Staff in the Kherson region.

The state-run media outlet listed the names, photos, and birth years of who it said were 14 employees of the Ukrainian Secret Service in the Kherson region, which is currently under Russian control.

The Russian-controlled news source said the Ukrainian service members aimed to “sabotage in the territories liberated by the Russian army.”

Many media outlets in Russia are state-controlled: any journalists or citizens who publish information running counter to Putin’s narrative of the war face up to 15 years in prison under Russian law.

ElCelina Tebor

NEW PHASE OF WAR: As Russia escalates attacks, what a new phase of war means for Ukrainians in the east

Contributing: The Associated Press

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