Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Thursday, 21 April, claimed the port city of Mariupol had been captured after nearly two months of fighting, despite hundreds of defenders still fighting from inside steel works.
Putin also said that there was no need for a final confrontation with the defenders who were boxed in.
"I consider the proposed storming of the industrial zone unnecessary," he told Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in a televised meeting at the Kremlin. "I order you to cancel it."
"There's no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities," he said. "Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can get through."
Thousands of civilians are believed to have died in the city.
"Mariupol has been liberated," Shoigu told Putin during the televised meeting. "The remaining nationalist formations took refuge in the industrial zone of the Azovstal plant."
According to Shoigu, around 2,000 Ukrainian fighters remained inside the plant. Ukrainian authorities said they do not have access to drinking water or food. Meanwhile, Putin called on them to lay down their weapons and surrender, adding that Russia would treat them with respect.
Ukraine's defence ministry spokesperson said that Russia's move to blockade the steel works testified to Putin's "schizophrenic tendencies."
Meanwhile, Danish and Spanish prime ministers visited Kyiv in another show of support for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by the West. Their visit came a day after European Council's Charles Michel came and vowed the EU would do "everything possible" to help Ukraine win the war.
However, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine still did not have enough weapons.
Meanwhile, nine bodies, some showing signs of torture, were found in the town of Borodyanka outside Kyiv, the region's police chief Andriy Niebytov said, as per AFP.
"The Russian military knowingly shot civilians who did not put up any resistance," he said, adding that one of the victims was a 15-year-old girl.
US President Joe Biden said that he was "amazed" by Ukrainian resistance.
"They're tougher and more proud than I thought," he said, adding that Western "weapons and ammunition are flowing in daily."
(With inputs from Reuters and AFP.)