Ukraine says fighting rages around Mariupol steel plant, port

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A view shows Illich Iron and Steel Works factory behind a street, which was damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 14, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

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April 15 (Reuters) - Ukraine said on Friday it was trying to break Russia's siege of Mariupol and that fighting raged around the southern city's Illich Steel and Iron Works and port.

"The situation in Mariupol is difficult and hard. Fighting is happening right now. The Russian army is constantly calling on additional units to storm the city," defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said.

"But as of now the Russians haven't managed to completely capture it," he told a televised briefing.

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Motuzyanyk said Russia had used long-range bombers to attack Mariupol for the first time since its Feb. 24 invasion, and that elsewhere Russian forces were concentrating efforts on seizing the cities of Rubizhne and Popasna in Ukraine's east.

He called the loss of Russia's lead warship in the Black Sea, the Moskva, significant. But he said he was not authorised to give out information on a factory near the capital Kyiv that Russia's defence ministry said it hit with missiles overnight.

Russia said on Friday that it had taken full control of Mariupol's Illich Steel and Iron Works and pledged more strikes on targets in Kyiv. read more

Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" to destroy Ukraine's military capabilities and root out what it views as dangerous nationalists, but Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

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Reporting by Natalia Zinets Writing by Alexander Winning Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Cawthorne

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