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How a Mariupol steel plant became a holdout for the city’s resistance

By Adam Taylor, Niha Masih

18 Apr 2022 · 4 min read

Long before Mariupol's Azovstal Iron and Steel Works became a key battleground in Ukraine, it played a dominant role in the port city's economy. As one of the largest metallurgical factories in Europe, it pumped out about 4 million tonnes of crude steel annually and provided livelihoods to tens of thousands of people.

But now, amid a devastating war and weeks-long siege by Russian forces, the sprawling industrial park is no longer producing steel. Instead, the plant and its network of underground tunnels are serving as a shelter and final holdout for thousands of Ukrainian fighters, including many from the Azov Battalion, one of Ukraine's most skilled - and controversial - military units.

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