The evacuation of Ukrainian troops from Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, after two months inside, is the latest setback in Ukraine’s efforts to defend the port city.
Mariupol, in south-east Ukraine, has been encircled since the start of March and is now mostly under the control of Kremlin forces.
Control of Mariupol would give Russia a land bridge to Crimea and full control of the Sea of Azov, cutting off Ukraine’s maritime trade. It would also deliver a propaganda coup for Vladimir Putin.
However, the process of capturing the city has been slow and bloody.
2 March: The blockade begins
Just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mariupol, a port city of some 430,000 people, found itself surrounded. From the start of Russia’s invasion on 24 February, Mariupol had come under relentless shelling.
By 2 March, Russian troops were several kilometres from the city on all sides, deputy mayor