Russia is attacking the Azovstal steel plant, the main remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged port city of Mariupol, with bunker-buster bombs, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Tuesday.
“Russia continues to shell Azovstal with powerful anti-bunker bombs. The world watches the murder of children online and remains silent,” Podolyak said on Twitter.
The steel plant is sheltering thousands of soldiers and civilians and is one of the last substantial holdouts in Mariupol – an important target for the Russians.
The port city has been under relentless bombardment for weeks and would allow Moscow to establish control over territory linking the Donbas in south-eastern Ukraine to annexed Crimea.
‘Level everything to the ground’
Earlier on Tuesday, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) released a communications intercept of a Russian ground unit commander who said Russian aircraft were planning to “level everything to the ground” around the Azovstal steel plant.
“Waiting for ‘surprises’ from Russia… three-ton ones, from the sky… They said to level it to the ground… The lieutenant colonel came and said ‘You are going to feel it’… Imagine what the explosion will be like,’” the SBU cites a Russian platoon leader as saying in the audio recording.
Moscow denies targeting civilians in its “special military operation” – the term it uses to label the war it launched on Ukraine on February 24.