Azovstal iron and steel works

The Azovstal iron and steel works, or Metallurgical Combine Azovstal (Ukrainian: Mеталургійний Kомбінат Азовсталь, pronounced [ɐˌzɔu̯ˈstɑlʲ]; PFTS: AZST), was a metallurgical facility located in Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, and one of the largest steel rolling companies in the country.

Azovstal iron and steel works
Native name
Mеталургійний Kомбінат Азовсталь
TypePrivate, Combine
Industrysteel production
Founded2 February 1930 (1930-02-02)
FateOnly plant destroyed during Siege of Mariupol
Key people
Rinat Akhmetov, Enver Tskitishvili (Энвер Омарович Цкитишвили) (April 2011–2022)
(General Director)
₴558,417,000 (2016)
OwnerMetinvest B.V.
Metinvest International
Number of employees
12,293 (2015[1])
SubsidiariesSigma TV Channel
Sygma TV Channel
Firma Marita

The Azovstal plant became one of the most emblematic points of the Siege of Mariupol during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The plant had tunnels and bunkers capable of withstanding a nuclear attack,[2] making it an extremely defendable position. As the Russian forces advanced into Mariupol, Ukrainian forces withdrew to Azovstal,[3] and by late April it became the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance. The Battle of Azovstal occurred on the site, resulting in a conditional surrender by the Ukrainian defenders after over a month of resistance.[4]

The plant was almost completely destroyed by Russian bombardment over the course of the battle.[5][6] After the capture of Mariupol by the Russians, they announced plans for the plant to be demolished during the city's restoration.


20th century


Azovstal was established in 1930 in Mariupol, Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Union) by the decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy (BCHX) (USSR) and began production in 1933 when its blast furnace put out the first iron.[7][8] In January 1935, steelmaking production began at Azovstal with the commissioning of the first 250-ton tilting open hearth furnace in the Soviet Union.[7]

Key people involved in the planning of the construction of Azovstal included Sergo Ordzhonikidze (head of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy), Valerian Kuybyshev (chairman of the State Planning Committee) and the Mariupol native Andrei Zhdanov.

It was claimed by Soviet Union officials to be one of the most modern plants in the country, with structures built for both workers and their families outside of the factories. Prior to the Nazi invasion, it reportedly had more than 12,000 worker homes, schools, movie theaters, a hospital and maternity clinic, and two parks.[9]

World War II

Monument to the workers of the Azovstal plant killed in World War II

During World War II, operations were forced to stop in 1941 when Nazi Germany occupied Mariupol.[10] As part of the German Ivan Program [de] (1942–1943) the plant was used to produce ammunition from 1942 onward.[11]

In September 1943, upon the city's recapture by Soviet forces, the plant was rebuilt.[10]

Ukrainian independence

View of the plant

In 1991, after the independence of Ukraine, the plant became a property of the Ukrainian state. In 1996, the state started its privatization.[12] The plant became owned by Metinvest, a metallurgical company solely owned by the Ukrainian business conglomerate Systems Capital Management.[13]

21st century

View from across Kalmius river

In 2005, the plant produced 5.906 million tons of steel.[14] From 2006, it partnered with the Priazovskiy State Technical University to help streamline students into working at the site.[15] In 2011, it was the country's third largest steel producer, accounting for 15% of the entire steel output, and known as a large exporter of steel slabs and billets.[13] In 2014, the bunkers under the factory were used when Russian-backed Donbas separatists tried to take Mariupol from the Ukrainian government.[12]

Environmental protests and reforms

In a 1999 study, it was found that the site had been identified by a regional environmental protection agency as the second largest air polluter in the region. To attempt to lessen pollution amounts, a small pilot program was first implemented to mitigate pollution caused by graphite and smelter fumes, and was introduced in a larger scale after beneficial outcomes were shown. The site also implemented regular pollution prevention audits each year.[16]

As a result of lax environmental regulations and "totally obsolete" equipment used by Azovstal and other Metinvest-owned factories in the city, Mariupol was what National Geographic described as "one of the most polluted cities" in Ukraine. In 2018 and 2019, residents of Mariupol protested in the streets for reform.[17]

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

In March 2022, during the Siege of Mariupol, the works was badly damaged, with Ukrainian parliament member Serhiy Taruta stating that Russian forces had "practically destroyed the factory".[18] By 16 April, it became the last pocket of organized resistance in the siege. Russian forces gave the defenders until 6:00 AM Moscow Time on 17 April to surrender, claiming that if they left behind their weapons they would guarantee their lives.[19] Ukrainian forces refused to surrender and portions of the plant remained under their control.[20]

On 4 May, Russian troops claimed to have entered the steel plant after launching an all-out offensive.[21] However, this was refuted by Ukrainian sources, claiming they had repelled some Russian attacks.[22] On 7 May, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk stated, "The president's order has been carried out: all women, children, and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal.[23] This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed."[24] As per the New York Times, the Azov Battalion was ordered to surrender by the Ukrainian General Staff on May 16, saying “The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel... Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time”. Efforts were ongoing to evacuate the battalion from the bunkers.[25]

After performing, the Kalush Orchestra, which represented Ukraine at Eurovision 2022, called from the stage to save the soldiers at Azovstal. This contributed to a sharp increase in interest in Azovstal around the world.[26][27]

On 17 May 2022, fifty-three seriously injured people surrendered and were evacuated from Azovstal to a medical facility in Novoazovsk and 211 people were taken to Olenivka through the humanitarian corridor, marking the end of the combat mission in Mariupol and the defense of the Azovstal plant after 82 days of fighting.[4]

Following the capture of Mariupol by the DPR and Russian forces and the surrender of remaining Ukrainian servicemen in Azovstal, Denis Pushilin announced that the plant would be demolished and that "other projects are planned in place of Azovstal".[28]



View of the factory furnaces

The works included coke production, a sinter plant, six blast furnaces[29] and a steel-making complex.[14]


The steel plant operated as a subsidiary of Metinvest Holding LLC,[30] in turn a subsidiary of Metinvest B.V., at the time of the siege.[31]

Rinat Akhmetov is co-owner of Metinvest B.V.[32] Akhmetov supported the Ukrainian forces in the fight for Mariupol: “Mariupol has always been and will be a Ukrainian city. Ukrainians fiercely defend every inch of Ukrainian soil. I am proud that Azovstal is our bastion of resistance”.[33]

See also


  1. ^ "godovaja_info_2014" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  2. ^ "Ukraine war: Mariupol defenders will fight to the end says PM". BBC News. 18 April 2022. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  3. ^ "Russia Says All Urban Areas of Mariupol Cleared of Ukrainian Forces". VOA. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  4. ^ a b Tim Lister, Taras Zadorozhnyy, Victoria Butenko and Jack Guy. "Ukraine declares 'combat mission' over in Mariupol amid evacuation". CNN. Retrieved 2022-05-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ ""Завод "Азовсталь" розбомблений та знищений практично повністю» – «Азов"" ["Azovstal Plant bombed and destroyed almost completely" - Azov]. Радіо Свобода (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  6. ^ "Окупанти майже повністю знищили завод Маріуполя "Азовсталь", - "Азов"" [The occupiers almost completely destroyed the Mariupol plant "Azovstal", - "Azov"]. РБК-Украина (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  7. ^ a b "МЕТИНВЕСТ :: About us :: Our history".
  8. ^ Balmaceda, Margarita (2021). Russian Energy Chains; The Remaking of Technopolitics from Siberia to Ukraine to the European Union. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231552196.
  9. ^ Andronov, L (1945). "Blast Furnace in Mariupol Resumes Production". Information Bulletin, Embassy of the USSR: 1945 – via Harvard University.
  10. ^ a b "In Mariupol, Azovstal fully halts operations, first time since 1941". Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  11. ^ Matthias Riedel (1973), Bergbau und Eisenhüttenindustrie in der Ukraine unter deutscher Besatzung (1941–1944) [Mining and iron and steel industry in Ukraine under German occupation (1941–1944)] (PDF), Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte 3 21 (in German), München, Stuttgart, Berlin, pp. 245–284
  12. ^ a b Armunia Berges, Cristina; Gutiérrez, Icíar (20 April 2022). "La planta de Azovstal, una fortaleza soviética de túneles subterráneos para la resistencia ucraniana en Mariúpol" [The Azovstal plant, a Soviet fortress of underground tunnels for the Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol]. (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  13. ^ a b Connor, John T (2011). Out of the Red; Investment and Capitalism in Russia. Wiley. ISBN 9781118160763.
  14. ^ a b "Азовсталь" [Azovstal] (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 8 June 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ Latukha, Marina (2018). Talent Management in Global Organizations; A Cross-Country Perspective. Springer International Publishing. ISBN 9783319764184.
  16. ^ Lovei, Magda; Gentry, Bradford S. (2002). The Environmental Implications of Privatization; Lessons for Developing Countries · Parts 63-426. World Bank. p. 19. ISBN 9780821350065.
  17. ^ Gardiner, Beth (2021-11-30). "Inside a Ukrainian war zone, another fight rages—for clean air". Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  18. ^ "One Of Europe's Biggest Steel Works Damaged in Ukraine's Mariupol". AFP. 20 March 2022. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  19. ^ "Russia offers Mariupol defence a surrender window". BBC. 16 April 2022. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  20. ^ "Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol defy surrender-or-die demand". AP NEWS. 2022-04-17. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  21. ^ "Ukraine war: Zelensky plea as Russians seek Mariupol endgame". BBC News. 2022-05-04. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  22. ^ "Ukraine repels some attacks as battle in Mariupol steel mill rages on". PBS News. 2022-05-06. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  23. ^ "Ukraine war: Civilians now out of Azovstal plant in Mariupol". BBC News. 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  24. ^ Dunne, John. "'All women, children and elderly evacuated from Mariupol steel mill'". Evening Standard.
  25. ^ Hopkins, Valerie; Nechepurenko, Ivan; Santora, Marc (2022-05-16). "Ukrainian authorities declare an end to the combat mission in Mariupol after weeks of Russian siege". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  26. ^ "Гурт Kalush закликав світ врятувати захисників Маріуполя зі сцени фіналу «Євробачення-2022» | Громадське телебачення". (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  27. ^ "Ukraine wins 2022 Eurovision song contest as UK finishes second in Turin". the Guardian. 2022-05-14. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  28. ^ "Глава ДНР Пушилин рассказал о планах по сносу завода "Азовсталь" в Мариуполе - Газета.Ru | Новости". Газета.Ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  29. ^ "Explosion at Azovstal. Employees say, there are victims". Retrieved 2022-04-07. Out of the six blast furnaces, the work of the first and fourth was suspended, and the third is being repaired.
  30. ^ "Metinvest".
  31. ^ "Metinvest BV - Company Profile and News". Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  32. ^ Akhmetov
  33. ^ Azovstal and Akhmetov

External links

Coordinates: 47°05′53″N 37°36′36″E / 47.098°N 37.61°E / 47.098; 37.61