What happened in Mariupol, the city Russia besieged and captured?

Mariupol resident Sergei Shulgin, 62, stands in front of an apartment block on May 3 that was heavily damaged by Russian bombardment. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
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Ukraine evacuated its remaining combatants from besieged Mariupol on Monday, ending its last stand to prevent Russia from capturing the strategic port city after weeks of heavy Russian bombardment.

“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address.

Hundreds of fighters, many of them seriously wounded, had been hiding in Mariupol’s sprawling Azovstal Iron and Steel Works and its network of tunnels. Combatants included members of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, a highly skilled military unit with controversial ties.

Hundreds of Mariupol residents also sought shelter in the complex. In early May, the first civilians evacuated the shattered steelworks and were escorted to safety by the United Nations after weeks of negotiations with Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Evacuees from Mariupol steel plant describe brutality of long siege

In late April, Russia declared victory over Mariupol, even as the contingent of Ukrainian troops held out at the plant and refused Moscow’s demand to lay down their arms. Russian forces now control the city, a strategic seaside hub with a prewar population of roughly 450,000.

Officials in Ukraine say that as many as 20,000 civilians in Mariupol may have been killed during the Russian siege.

Here’s what to know about the siege of Mariupol — and the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding there now.

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