Several media outlets reported on Tuesday that fighting had resumed at the Azovstal complex in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, with pictures circulating on social media showing plumes of smoke rising from the steelworks. The escalation appears to have put a stop to the earlier stated evacuation ceasefire by Russian forces.
The Donetsk People’s Republic accused the Ukrainian military and members of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion holed up within the industrial property of abusing the evacuation truce and changing positions during the break in the conflict. Meanwhile, pro-Kiev media denied the allegations as fake, stating that the location had been bombarded with heavy artillery and explosives overnight, with Russian forces attempting to force their way into the complex.
A correspondent for the Sputnik news agency reported the sound of artillery shelling and plumes of smoke billowing from the plant on Tuesday. Video captured by RT crew on the ground corroborates these reports.
On Sunday, several hundred civilians were evacuated from bunkers in Azovstal in a humanitarian effort facilitated by the United Nations and the International Red Cross. It came after Moscow’s agreement to a ceasefire.
Russian forces say they have the entire port city of Mariupol under their control except for the Azovstal plant, where Ukrainian troops have been besieged for over a month.
The Soviet-era plant has an extensive network of fortified bunkers and tunnels which were designed to withstand potential Western strikes during the Cold War.
On April 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin called off an operation to storm the steelworks fearing heavy casualties among Russian troops, ordering instead to impose a complete blockade of the Ukrainian forces holed up there.