The weeks of heavy fighting in Mariupol captured a significant portion of Russia’s combat power; at one point, the battle was estimated by military analysts at about 10 percent of all Russian troops in Ukraine.
On Thursday, a Russian video news report of the scene showed a convoy of armored vehicles coming from Mariupol. Seymon Pegov, a pro-Kremlin reporter embedded with Russian forces in the city, interviewed Timur Kurilkin, a separatist battalion commander from Donetsk, a city in separatist-occupied eastern Ukraine.
“We’re going home to Donetsk,” Mr. Kurilkin said, walking past the vehicles. “Our next battle is tomorrow,” he said, without specifying where.
In Mariupol, Russia is already trying to establish authority over civilian life. Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, promised high school students that they would receive diplomas certified by the separatist entity.
On Wednesday, Andrei Turchak, a top official in Mr Putin’s party, visited a school in Mariupol, which has already switched to the Russian-language curriculum. In a video of his visit, posted on social media, he said: “Many textbooks have already been delivered and these deliveries will continue.”
Anton Trojanovskic reported from Hamburg, Germany, Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Richard Perez-Penac From New York. Reporting contributed by Michael Schwirtz from Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, David E. Sanger and Zach Montague from Washington, Neil MacFarquhar from Istanbul, Matthew Mpoke Bigg from London, Alan Yuhas from New York, and Cora Engelbrecht from Krakow, Poland.