Russian forces are not storming the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where Ukrainian military servicemen and members of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion have been holed up for more than a month, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday.
According to the official, the Russian military is abiding by President Vladimir Putin’s earlier order not to storm the plant.
“There is no assault. We see that flare-ups occur when militants get out to assume gun emplacements. These attempts are being suppressed quite promptly,” he said.
On Tuesday, several Russian and Ukrainian media outlets reported that fighting had broken out at and around the giant steelworks compound following a few days of relative calm thanks to a ceasefire declared by Moscow to ensure the evacuation of civilians from the area. According to these reports, the Azovstal plant was being pounded by artillery and aerial bombardment. Unverified footage circulating on social media appeared to corroborate this, depicting plumes of smoke billowing from the facility.
The Donetsk People’s Republic claimed that the Ukrainian military and Azov fighters holed up at the industrial facility took advantage of the lull in the fighting provided by the evacuation ceasefire to take up new positions.