Russian troops and their separatist allies are fighting in the center of Mariupol, a strategic port city in the southeast of Ukraine, the Russian defense ministry says.
“In Mariupol, units of the Donetsk People’s Republic, with the support of the Russian armed forces, are squeezing the encirclement and fighting against nationalists in the city center,” the ministry says in Moscow.
There is no confirmation from Ukrainian officials.
Meanwhile, rescuers continue searching for survivors of a Russian airstrike on a theater in the besieged city where hundreds of people were sheltering, local officials say.
The city has seen some of the fiercest fighting since the start of the Russian invasion, with residents suffering continued bombardments.