Not storming Azovstal steel plant, says Russia amid strikes on Mariupol
The Russian army had said earlier that its forces were using artillery and planes to target Azovstal.
After Ukraine said Russian forces had launched a powerful assault on the Azovstal steel plant, Kremlin denied Russia was storming the plant.
"There is no storming," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding, "The order was publicly given by the supreme commander-in-chief to call off the assault."
The Russian army had said earlier that its forces were using artillery and planes to target Azovstal. Mariupol has been bombarded by Russian forces for weeks with reports indicating that the city is without water, food and electricity.
The UN had said earlier that at least 100 people were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant. A convoy with at least 58 people had transported civilians to Zaporizhzhia from the city of Mangush, outside Mariupol.
The deputy commander of Ukraine's Azov military unit Sviatoslav Palamar had said Russia was attacking the Azovstal plant with armoured vehicles and tanks and was set to bring in more infantry.
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President Zelensky had threatened to halt talks with Russia if Putin's forces killed Ukraniana troops holed up at the plant.
"They cannot overpower Ukraine. But what is within their power still is to set fire to a children's amusement park... or to blow up a bridge or grain storage," Zelensky said in his latest remark.
Ukraine's defence ministry said Russia had conducted nearly 50 airstrikes in the eastern region and was "increasing the tempo of its offensive operation".
(With inputs from Agencies)
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