Fighting resumes at Azovstal steelworks in Ukraine

Fighting resumes at Azovstal steelworks in Ukraine

Russian and Ukrainian media claim that the steelworks came under heavy artillery fire and aerial bombardment.

More media outlets reported on Tuesday that fighting had resumed at the Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, with footage circulating on social media showing plumes of smoke billowing from the steelworks. The evacuation ceasefire declared earlier by Russian forces appears to have been put in place by the escalation.

The Donetsk People's Republic accused the Ukrainian military and members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion holed up at the industrial facility, taking advantage of the evacuation ceasefire and using the lull in the fight to take up positions. The pro-Kiev media dismissed the accusations as false, claiming the grounds had been pounded by heavy artillery and bombs overnight, with Russian troops trying to force their way into the facility.

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 the RT crew on the ground corroborates these reports.

More than a hundred civilians were evacuated from bunkers in Azovstal on Sunday in a humanitarian effort facilitated by the United Nations and the International Red Cross. It came after Moscow agreed 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 a large network of fortified bunkers and tunnels designed to withstand potential Western strikes during the Cold War.

On April 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an operation to storm the steelworks but ordered to impose a complete blockade of Ukrainian forces holed up there, because Russian President Vladimir Putin called it off because of the heavy casualties among Russian troops.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied it plans to retake the two republics by force.