Unconfirmed photographs shared by users on Telegram on April 6, 2022, show a Soviet-made bomb, the FAB-3000, next to the Russian Air Force Tu-22M strategic bomber.
A short description of the photograph said that the bomb is being prepared by Russian forces to strike Azovstal, one of Europe’s largest iron and steel plants, which has already been severely damaged as Russia laid siege to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in March 2022.
The FAB-3000 is an unguided 3,000 kilograms (6,600 pounds) bomb, which was primarily designed for the destruction of industrial, urban, and port facilities. This type of bomb was used by both Soviet bombers, the Tupolev Tu-16 and the Tupolev Tu-22M, during the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
With an explosive mass of 1,400 kilograms (3,086 pounds) and a potential destruction radius of 46 meters (over 50 feet) as well as a fragment dispersion radius reaching 260 meters (853 feet), the FAB-3000 was one of the largest bombs in the Soviet arsenal.
Having suffered the brunt of sustained airstrikes by the Russian military, Mariupol, a strategic coastal city on the Sea of Azov, has become one of the most heavily bombed and damaged cities amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While Russian troops aim to take full control of Mariupol, Ukrainian forces are still resisting attacks in the southern part of the damaged city, in and around the Azovstal plant.
Attacks by Russian forces on Mariupol resulted in its encirclement, cutting off food, water, fuel, and medicine and destroying homes and businesses. Speaking to foreign media on April 7, 2022, the Mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boichenko, said that more than 90% of local infrastructure had been destroyed and more than 5,000 civilians were killed, including 210 children, were killed during weeks of Russian bombardment and street fighting.
Meanwhile, British defense officials said that up to 160,000 locals remained trapped in the city, which had a population of 430,000 people before the war.