Ukrainian officials said on Sunday that the iron and steel factory, Azovstal, has been badly damaged as Russian forces bombed it.
Deputy Serhiy Taruta confirmed on Facebook that the Russian forces besieging Mariupol “had practically destroyed the factory.”
Meanwhile, Representative Lesia Vasylenko posted a video on her Twitter account of explosions on an industrial site, with thick columns of grey and black smoke rising from the buildings. She clarified that “the economic losses for Ukraine are huge as one of the biggest metallurgic plants in Europe destroyed.”
For his part, Azovstal’s director general Enver Tskitishvili wrote on messaging app Telegram: “when the invasion began on February 24, the factory had taken measures to reduce the environmental damage in the event of being hit.”
He explained that “Coke oven batteries no longer pose a danger to the lives of residents, and we have also stopped the blast furnaces correctly.”
He confirmed “We will return to the city, rebuild the enterprise and revive it”, without specifying the extent of the damage.
Azovstal is part of the Metinvest group, which is controlled by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.