One of Europe's biggest steel plants, Azovstal, have been destroyed as Russian forces lay siege to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, officials said on Sunday. Russian forces pushed deeper into Ukraine's besieged and battered port city of Mariupol on Saturday, where heavy fighting shut down a major steel plant and local authorities pleaded for more Western help.
Taking to Twitter, Ukrainian lawmaker Lesia Vasylenko, said, "One of the biggest metallurgic plants in #Europe destroyed. The economic losses for #Ukraine are huge. The environment is devastated." Vasylenko also shared a video of the incident, that showed a blast in the industrial site with thick smoke engulfing the place.
The fall of Mariupol, the scene of some of the war's worst suffering, would mark a major battlefield advance for the Russians, who are largely bogged down outside major cities more than three weeks into the biggest land invasion in Europe since World War II.
Ukrainian and Russian forces battled over the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, said. “One of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe is actually being destroyed,” Denysenko said in televised remarks.
Russian forces have already cut Mariupol off from the Sea of Azov, and its fall would link Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, to eastern territories controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. It would mark a rare advance in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance that has dashed Russia's hopes for a quick victory and galvanized the West.
(with agency inputs)