A federal lawmaker from the republic of Chechnya said Russian troops have successfully "destroyed" the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, according to video posted by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov late Thursday.
Adam Delimkhanov made the statement wearing combat uniform alongside dozens of Chechen troops in front of the burning remains of what he said was an administrative building belonging to the Azovstal steel plant where Ukrainian forces continue to resist the Russian offensive.
President Vladimir Putin hailed the "liberation" of Mariupol early Thursday and ordered that the remaining Ukrainian forces be blockaded inside the steel plant.
"It can be said the special operation to destroy and clear Mariupol has been completed today," Delimkhanov said in the video. "President Vladimir Putin's orders have been fulfilled."
It was not immediately clear whether Delimkhanov, who is a member of the Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, intended to state that Putin and Kadyrov ordered the destruction of Mariupol.
Chechen officials, including Kadyrov, have been predicting the imminent fall of Mariupol for weeks.
The southern port city has been pummelled since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The mayor of Mariupol said earlier this month the city waas 90% destroyed, with more than 5,000 of its residents killed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that Mariupol "continues to resist" despite Russian claims.
Ukrainian officials have appealed for a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians and wounded fighters to leave Azovstal.
Chechnya was devastated by separatist conflicts with Russia in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, and bservers have drawn similarities between the scale of destruction in the Chechen capital of Grozny and the devastation of Mariupol, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian towns and cities.