Ukraine: Fighting rages around Mariupol steel plant and port

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(Reuters) – Ukraine said on Friday it was fighting to try to break the siege of the city of Mariupol where fighting is raging around the port and the Ilyich steel plant.

“The situation in Mariupol is difficult and harsh. Fighting is taking place right now. The Russian army is constantly calling for additional troops to take the city,” said Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motouzyanik.

“But so far the Russians have failed to fully capture it,” he said in a televised briefing.

For the first time since the offensive launched on February 24, Russia used long-range bombers to hit the port city in southeastern Ukraine, Oleksandr Motouzyanik said.

Russian forces are also focusing their efforts on capturing the towns of Rubizhne and Popasna in the east of the country, he added.

The ministry spokesman said he was not authorized to comment on the current situation at a factory on the outskirts of Kyiv that the Russian army says it hit overnight Thursday-Friday.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced in the morning that it had taken full control of the Ilyich factory and promised other strikes on targets in the Ukrainian capital.

(Report Natalia Zinets, written by Alexander Winning, French version Laetitia Volga, edited by Matthieu Protard)

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