Ukraine’s defense ministry said late on Friday it had lost access to the Sea of Azov “temporarily” as invading Russian forces were tightening their grip around the sea’s major port of Mariupol, reports Reuters.
“The occupiers have partially succeeded in the Donetsk operational district, temporarily depriving Ukraine of access to the Sea of Azov,” Ukraine’s defense ministry said in a statement.
The ministry did not specify whether Ukraine’s forces have regained access to the Sea.
“Russia said on Friday its forces were “tightening the noose” around Mariupol, where an estimated 80% of the city’s homes had been damaged, and where more than 1,000 people may still be trapped in makeshift bomb shelters beneath a destroyed theater. Mariupol, with its strategic location on the coast of the Sea of Azov, has been a target since the start of the war on Feb. 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a ‘special military operation,'” reports Reuters.
The city lies on the route between the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea to the west, and the Donetsk region to the east, which is partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists.