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My Visit To The Massive Steel Mill Where Mariupol Is Making Its Last Stand

A look at the Soviet-era behemoth where the last fighting in Mariupol is taking place.
MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - 2019/10/24: View of the Azov Stal steel plant in Mariupol. The two large metallurgical plants based in Mariupol are the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works and the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works part of Me... MARIUPOL, UKRAINE - 2019/10/24: View of the Azov Stal steel plant in Mariupol. The two large metallurgical plants based in Mariupol are the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works and the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works part of Metinvest Group. According to Ukrainian Ecology Ministry report in 2016 Ilyich Plant produced more than 1.7 million tons of dangerous emissions to the atmosphere and Azov Stal produced 78,600 tons of atmospheric pollutants and poured 1.4 million cubic meters of waste into the Azov Sea. In 2018 Ukraines Health Ministry warned the public to avoid swimming at any of the beaches around Mariupol. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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April 19, 2022 10:29 a.m.

The fighting in Mariupol is ending at a massive steel mill: the Azovstal factory.

Potentially hundreds of Ukrainian fighters — along with what they say are up to 1,000 sheltering civilians — are holed up in the factory, a maze of tunnels, pipes, and channels for molten steel, frozen now for the first time since World War Two.

I visited Azovstal in July 2017 while I was reporting a series of stories that I wrote about the war in the Donbas. At Azovstal, I was interested in the connections that had endured across what was then called the contact line — the division between territory held by the Ukrainian government, and that controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

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