Ukrainian forces said they have ended their "combat mission" in the besieged city of Mariupol, in a new statement.
“The 'Mariupol' garrison has fulfilled its combat mission,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in the statement.
“The Supreme Military Command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of their personnel,” the statement read.
“The defenders of Mariupol are heroes of our time. They will forever be marked down in history. This includes the special 'Azov' unit, the 12th Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine, the 36th Separate Brigade of Marines, border guards, police, volunteers, the Territorial Defense of Mariupol,” the statement read.
“By concentrating the main forces of the enemy around Mariupol, we had the opportunity to prepare and create defensive lines, where our troops stand ready today to repel the aggressor. It provided us critical time to form reserves, regroup forces, and receive assistance from partners,” the statement continued.
“The most important common task of all Ukraine and the whole world is to save the lives of the defenders of Mariupol. We will fight for you on all fronts as faithfully as you defend the state! #stoprussia,” the statement concluded.
In an earlier video, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar made it clear that some defenders remain at the Azovstal steel plant.