The Ukrainian armed forces have said Russian soldiers are concentrating on wiping out Ukrainian units at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
"The Russian occupiers are focusing their efforts on blocking and trying to destroy our units in the Azovstal area. The enemy resumed the offensive with the support of aircraft in order to take control of the plant," the military said in its latest update.
Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, said intense attacks and "non-stop" shelling continued on the steel plant overnight into Thursday.
What the Russians say: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports Thursday that the Russian army had broken into the territory of the steel plant as “fake news,” saying Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to avoid storming of the plant was still in place.
“The Ukrainian side, especially those who are hiding there on the territory of the plant, is well known for producing a huge amount of lies and fakes on an ongoing basis,” Peskov said on a conference call, commenting on reports that Russian troops had broken into Azovstal, where hundreds of Ukrainian fighters and civilians have been trapped for weeks.
Peskov added that Putin had given an order to refrain from storming the plant, adding “there were no other orders from the Commander-in-Chief [President Putin].”
Peskov confirmed that Russian forces' blocking of the plant continues, but also said evacuation corridors are operating today.
CNN has seen no independent evidence that the corridors announced Wednesday by the Russian defense ministry are operating.