Russia Says It Will Stop Military Operations Near Azov Steel Plant

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The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on April 25 that the Russian side unilaterally halted combat operations at the Azov steel plant as of 14:00 Moscow time on April 25 to secure the evacuation of civilians.

The statement said that the Ukrainian government has indicated that civilians, including workers, women and children, are trapped at the Azov steel plant, to which the Russian side responded by keeping open the humanitarian corridors previously established at the Azov steel plant. The Russian Armed Forces and Donetsk forces, following humanitarian principles, decided to unilaterally cease all combat operations at the site as of 14:00 Moscow time on April 25, and the relevant forces will withdraw to a safe distance and ensure the evacuation of the aforementioned civilians in any direction.

The Azov steel plant was built in the Soviet era and is located in an industrial area with its own power and water supply system, as well as railroads and overpasses. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said on April 21 that more than 2,000 armed men are "firmly" trapped inside the Azov steel plant and that a forced attack would take three to four days. Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 21 ordered the cancellation of the planned forcible attack on the Azov steel plant and replaced it with a blockade to prevent any armed men from escaping. But Ukrainian presidential adviser Podoljak said in a social media post on April 24 that Russian forces launched an uninterrupted attack on the Azov steel plant that day.