EFEMoscow

Russian sappers have begun demining the Azov Sea coast near the port of Mariupol after gaining control under the Ukrainian city in the southeast since the fall of the Azovstal steel factory last week, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.

"Engineering units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation are demining the Azov Sea coast near the port of Mariupol," the ministry said in a brief statement on its official Telegram account.

The demining work is carried out by specialists from the International Mine Action Center.

The state-run Tass news agency said that mine disposal specialists had cleared a 50-km section of the Azov Sea coastline.

It cited a field engineer, codenamed Makhmut, saying his group was working along the coastline.

He said it would take around three weeks to demine the section.

Mariupol is the largest city on the Azov Sea coast, a large seaport, and a big metallurgical center in Donbas.

Russia last week claimed to have taken control of the city after the last of the defenders holed up inside the Azovstal steel plant surrendered.

Nearly 2,500 Ukrainian fighters entrenched inside the steel factory surrendered over the past week, most of them members of the nationalist Azov battalion. EFE

mos/ssk