Putin claims victory in Mariupol despite steel-mill holdouts

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed victory in the battle for Mariupol despite an estimated 2,000 die-hard Ukrainian fighters still holed up in a sprawling steel plant.

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

The strategic southern port city has largely been reduced to ruins by nearly two months of bombardment.

Ukrainian authorities say over 20,000 people have been killed in the siege.

The last defenders are holed up in tunnels and bunkers at the plant.

Putin expressed concern for the lives of Russian soldiers if they were ordered to storm the place.

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