The Azovstal iron and steelworks, one of Europe’s biggest metallurgical plants, has become a ‘fortress’ for Ukrainian forces who are outgunned, outnumbered and surrounded seven weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The Azovstal factory is an enormous space with so many buildings that the Russians … simply can’t find [the Ukrainian forces].”Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kyiv
“The Azovstal factory is an enormous space with so many buildings that the Russians … simply can’t find [the Ukrainian forces],” said Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kyiv.
“That’s why they [the Russians] started talking about trying a chemical attack; that’s the only way to smoke them out,” Zhdanov said.
According to a report in UK newspaper The Guardian, Ukraine has said it is checking unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons in Mariupol. Russia-backed separatists have denied using chemical weapons.
In peacetime, the Azovstal iron and steelworks pumped out 4 Mt of steel a year, 3.5 Mt of hot metal and 1.2 Mt of rolled steel. Like the city’s Illich steel and ironworks, Azovstal is held by Metinvest, the group controlled by Rinat Akhmetov, a billionaire and Ukraine’s richest man.
A Russian separatist deputy commander said on Russian state TV on Monday that Moscow had captured 80% of the port, but that resistance continued and Ukrainian forces had all tried to 'exit towards the Azovstal factory'. He described the factory as a ‘fortress in a city’.
The city’s defenders include Ukrainian marines, motorised brigades, a national guard brigade and the Azov regiment, a militia created by far-right nationalists that was later incorporated into the national guard.
Source: The Guardian