Russia strikes Mariupol steel plant that has become Ukraine’s stronghold in strategic city

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Russia on Tuesday April 19, 2022, renewed a call for Ukrainian forces holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol to lay down arms. Russia’s defence ministry estimated that 2,500 Ukrainian troops and about 400 foreign mercenaries are dug in at the steel plant in the southeastern port city. The Mariupol City Council said at least 1,000 civilians were also hiding in underground shelters of the Azovstal plant, which consists of myriad buildings, blast furnaces and rail tracks. One of Europe’s largest metal mills, the plant produced over 4 million tonnes (4.4 million tons) of steel annually before Russia’s invasion. Capturing Mariupol would be Russia’s biggest victory after weeks of costly fighting since its February 20 invasion began.

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