UKRAINIAN soldiers continuing to hold out inside a giant steel plant in Mariupol have been dubbed the country's own "300 Spartans".
The troops, along with a small group of civilians, are refusing to budge from inside the Azovstal steelworks – despite Vladimir Putin's threat to starve them.
The brave fighters were told earlier this week to surrender and promised they will would be allowed to live, given medical attention and looked after.
But troops are said to still be holed up in the steel mill which boasts a large underground network of tunnels.
But the defenders at Azovstal show no signs of giving up – and appear instead to be prepared for die for their country.
In a moving piece, Bloomberg columnist Andreas Kluth remarked their efforts were something of a marvel as we have seen in other events throughout history.
He referenced the incredible last stand by the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae when the Persians’ failed attempt to conquer Greece in 480 BC.
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He wrote: "A tiny force centered around 300 Spartans held the gap for three days until they were betrayed and outflanked.
"All died. But they had slowed down the Persian assault. The following year, the Greeks won the war."
Kluth continued: "The Ukrainians at Azovstal are fighting for one another, for their country, and for history.
"Maybe, like the rebel samurai and so many others before, they’re also fighting just because the whims of fate placed them in a particular place at a particular time, and they heard the call to take their last stand.
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"If they perish, it will be on their own terms, and with honor.
The Azovstal troops are likely inspired by the country's leader President Volodymyr Zelensky whose fierce commitment to defend his country has impressed the world.
As Russian troops relocated to the Donbas as part to begin battle to seize the east, he vowed they will keep defending themselves.
"No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight."
Putin called off the assault on hero Ukrainian troops buried in the Mariupol steel plant, declaring the besieged city is now in Russian hands.
He ordered his forces to continue to securely blockade the complex instead of launching a bloody final battle.
The Russian President said he considered the "storming of the industrial zone unnecessary" as he wanted to safeguard his men.
But the warmonger instead wants an impenetrable wall of soldiers surrounding the steel works after claiming Mariupol had been "liberated."
"There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities," he said.
"Block off this industrial area so that a fly cannot pass through."
CALL FOR HELP
Putin promised they would treat them with respect and would provide medical assistance to those injured.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk made an urgent appeal for a humanitarian corridor from Azovstal.
She wrote in a post on Telegram: "There are now about 1,000 civilians and 500 wounded soldiers. They all need to be removed from Azovstal today.
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"I call on world leaders and the international community to focus their efforts on Azovstal now.
"Now this is a key point and a key moment for the humanitarian effort."
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