Russia-Ukraine latest updates: Shelling of Azovstal resumes

Russia – Ukraine news from April 30: Commander says raids on Mariupol steelworks have resumed ahead of broader evacuation efforts on Monday.

A view shows the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol.
Around 100 civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel pant in Mariupol. [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]
  • Ukraine’s National Guard brigade commander says raids on the Azovstal steel plant have resumed after evacuations.
  • Mariupol’s city council says a broad, UN-backed evacuation of its civilians, other than those sheltering at a steel plant, will begin on Monday.
  • Around 100 Ukrainian civilians are heading to a temporary camp in Russian-held territory after being evacuated from a ruined steelworks in Mariupol.
  • US house speaker Nancy Pelosi becomes the highest-ranking US official to visit Kyiv and meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  • Russia has carried out missile attacks across southern and eastern Ukraine, including one that destroyed the runway at Odesa airport.
  • A Russian reconnaissance plane briefly violated Denmark and Sweden’s airspace, officials say.

Who controls what Day 67

This blog is now closed, our live coverage has moved here.

These are the updates for May 1.

Ukrainian commander says Russia resumes shelling of Azovstal steel plant

Ukrainian National Guard brigade commander Denys Shlega has said in a televised interview that shelling resumed at the Azovstal steel plant as soon as rescue crews ceased evacuating civilians.

Shlega said at least one more round of evacuations is needed to clear civilians from the plant.

Dozens of small children remain in bunkers below the industrial facilities, as well as several hundred civilians, nearly 500 wounded soldiers and numerous dead bodies, he said.

Russia has never halted efforts to avoid nuclear war: Lavrov

Russia is committed to working to prevent a nuclear war ever beginning, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said in an interview to Italian television.

“Western media misrepresent Russian threats,” Lavrov said, speaking in Russian through an Italian interpreter.

“Russia has never interrupted efforts to reach agreements that guarantee that a nuclear war never develops,” he said.

Eight dead after Russian strikes in eastern Ukraine: governors

Eight civilians have been killed by Russian shelling in Donetsk and Kharkiv, the regions’ governors said, as Moscow’s forces push deeper into eastern Ukraine.

“Four civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, all in Lyman. Eleven other people were injured,” governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

Another person had died of his injuries in a town near Lyman, he added.

Mariupol prepares for broad evacuation

Mariupol’s city council says a broad, UN-backed evacuation of its civilians, other than those sheltering at a steel plant, will begin on Monday.

City officials said the the wider evacuation of the strategic port city had been delayed by security concerns.

A UN-led “safe passage operation” from the Azovstal steel plant succeeded in evacuating around 100 civilians, according to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The UN said in a statement it “will also continue to push for the safe passage out of Mariupol city for all those civilians who wish to leave. The UN is engaging actively with parties to advance these efforts.”

A man walks past a residential building, which was damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol.
The wider evacuation of the strategic port city had been delayed by security concerns. [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russia says it could seize assets in retaliation for US proposal

Moscow suggests it could seize the Russia-based assets of countries it deems hostile in retaliation for a US proposal to sell off Russian oligarchs’ assets and pay the proceeds to Ukraine.

“It is fair to take reciprocal measures and confiscate assets” of companies based in Russia whose owners are “citizens of hostile countries,” the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, said.

German Chancellor defends Ukraine policy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has defended his decisions on Ukraine, rejecting criticisms that he has been acting too slowly and not doing enough on Russia’s invasion.

“I make my decisions quickly and in coordination with our allies,” he told Bild am Sonntag. “I am suspicious of hasty action and Germany going it alone.”

Scholz has come under fire over recent weeks for not taking rapid action or doing enough to provide desperately sought armaments to Ukraine.

Four civilians killed in east Ukraine town of Lyman: governor

Four civilians have been killed in Russian shelling in the town of Lyman as Moscow’s forces push deeper into the eastern Donetsk region, the regional governor has said.

“On May 1, four civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, all in Lyman. Eleven other people were injured,” governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

Internet cut in Russian-occupied Kherson: Ukraine

Ukrainian officials say internet and cellular communications have been cut in a large area in the Russian-occupied Kherson region and part of the Zaporizhzhia region, for which they blamed Russian forces.

The London-based internet monitor Netblocks said the Kherson region lost 75 percent of internet connectivity beginning Saturday evening.

Kyiv accuses Moscow of destroying medical infrastructure, denying medical care

Ukrainian intelligence officials have accused Russian forces of destroying medical infrastructure, taking equipment and denying medical care to residents in several occupied cities and towns.

In a Facebook post, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense claimed that ventilators and other equipment provided since 2014 by international donors and the government of Ukraine were removed from a hospital at Starobilsk in the eastern Luhansk region.

The same post alleges that tuberculosis patients were denied medical care in the Kharkiv region at Volchansk while several facilities were used to treat wounded Russian troops.

Ukraine says it’s stalling Russia’s offensive

The Ukrainian army says that a Russian offensive along a broad front in the country’s east has been stalling amid human and material losses inflicted by Kyiv’s forces.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Facebook post that Russian troops were trying to advance in the Sloboda, Donetsk and Tauride regions, but were being held back by Ukrainian forces that continue to fight village by village.

Germany’s response to Russian invasion hesitant: Ukraine

Germany’s response to Russia’s war on Ukraine has been hesitant compared to other European countries, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

Berlin should “take the leading role in Europe, especially in questions of Eastern policy,” he said, saying this applied to arms deliveries to Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and granting EU candidate status to Ukraine.

Kuleba warned that if Russian President Vladimir Putin wins the war, “Europe will not enjoy stability and security for decades.” However, he said, if Ukraine emerges victorious, this would strengthen Europe for the future.

Mariupol evacuation postponed to Monday

An operation to bring civilians out of Mariupol that was scheduled for Sunday afternoon has been postponed, local officials have said.

The new attempt to transport civilians to Zaporizhzhia from the devastated port city, which is largely under Russian control, will take place on Monday morning, Zaporizhzhia’s city council said.

In a separate mission coordinated by international aid groups, about 100 civilians were able to leave the embattled Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, according to Ukraine’s president.

US to target Russian oligarchs with provisions in $33bn Ukraine aid bill

United States Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has said he will add provisions to the $33bn Ukraine aid package that will allow US authorities to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets and send money derived from them to Ukraine.

“Ukraine needs all the help it can get and, at the same time, we need all the assets we can put together to give Ukraine the aid it needs,” Schumer said.

Denmark says Russia spy plane breached airspace

The Danish government has summoned Russia’s ambassador after a Russian spy plane violated its airspace.

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a Twitter post that the breach was “totally unacceptable and particularly worrying in the current situation”, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions with NATO, where Denmark is a member.

The plane entered Danish airspace on Friday evening east of the Danish Baltic island of Bornholm before flying into Swedish airspace, the government said. Swedish defence officials reported the violation on Saturday.

Next round of EU sanctions on Russia must include oil embargo: Kuleba

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has told the European Union’s top diplomat that the bloc’s next round of sanctions must include an oil embargo on Russia.

“I also emphasized there can be no alternative to granting Ukraine EU candidate status. We paid separate attention to further safe evacuation from besieged Mariupol,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter after his call with Josep Borrell.

Russia says 80 civilians evacuated from Azovstal

Russia’s defence ministry has said 80 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, the Ifax news agency has reported.

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy placed the figure at around 100 evacuees, according to a Twitter post.

Those evacuees who wanted to go to Ukrainian-controlled regions have been handed over to representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ministry was cited as saying.

Germany announces sharp reduction in Russian fossil fuel imports

Germany has announced a sharp reduction in its imports of Russian fossil fuels, just days before the EU is expected to include oil in its sixth package of sanctions against Moscow.

Germany’s spokesperson at the EU, Sebastian Fischer, said Berlin was reducing its energy dependence on Russia “rapidly”.

Around 100 civilians evacuated from Mariupol steel plant: Zelenskyy

An initial group of around 100 civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

“Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began. The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area. Tomorrow we’ll meet them in Zaporizhzhia,” he tweeted.

The evacuees are being taken to a temporary camp in the Russian-held village of Bezimenne before being transferred to Zaporizhzhia. As many as 1,000 civilians are hiding in the subterranean network, according to Mariupol’s city council.

US speaker Pelosi tells Zelenskyy not to ‘be bullied’

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has urged Ukraine not to back down in the face of “bullies” like Russia.

“Do not be bullied by bullies. If they are making threats, you cannot back down. That’s my view of it,” she told a news conference in the Polish city of Rzeszow, a day after talks in the Ukrainian capital with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“We are here for the fight and you cannot fold to a bully.”

Fire at Russian military site near Ukraine injures one: Governor

One person has been injured in a fire at a Russian defence ministry facility in the southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, its regional governor has said.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said a local resident suffered minor injuries and his life was not in danger. There were no immediate comments from the defence ministry.

Ukraine seeks urgent WHO meeting on impact of invasion on health

Ukraine, backed by dozens of other countries, has written to the World Health Organization’s regional chief calling for an urgent meeting on the impact of Russia’s invasion on health and healthcare.

The letter, sent this week by Ukraine’s diplomatic mission in Geneva and seen by Reuters, is signed by some 38 other members of the agency’s European region, including France, Germany and Britain.

It urged WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, to convene a meeting “no later than 9 May” and referred to attacks on health facilities, disrupted vaccination campaigns and concerns about the risk of radiological and chemical events.

German leader says pacifism is ‘outdated’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has pledged to continue to support Ukraine with money, aid and also weapons, saying a pacifist approach to the war is “outdated.”

“I respect all pacifism, I respect all attitudes, but it must seem cynical to a citizen of Ukraine to be told to defend himself against Putin’s aggression without weapons,” Scholz said at a May Day rally in Dusseldorf.

The German leader also warned that the war would have consequences for food supply, potentially leading “to a worldwide hunger crisis”.

Around 50 civilians from Mariupol reach temporary camp

Around 50 civilians are estimated to have arrived at a temporary camp in the Russian-held village of Bezimenne, around 30km (18 miles) east of Mariupol.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Zaporizhzhia, said no one had confirmed the arrivals in the southeastern Ukrainian city, where the evacuees are expected to be transferred.

“Both the UN and the International Red Cross are giving very little details because they say that part of the success of this mission is to keep it as much as possible under wraps,” Abdel-Hamid said.

UN says evacuation in Mariupol is underway

The United Nations has confirmed that an operation to evacuate people from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is under way.

UN humanitarian spokesman Saviano Abreu said the evacuation effort was being done in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross and in coordination with Ukrainian and Russian officials.

He called the situation “very complex” and would not give further details. Up to 1,000 civilians are believed to be hunkered down with an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters at the steelworks.

Fourteen more people evacuated from Azovstal plant

A group of 14 more people has arrived at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne, in the Donetsk region, after leaving the area around the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s Mariupol, a Reuters photographer has said.

A woman sits with children as evacuees, including civilians who left the area near Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, arrive at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region.
Fourteen more people have arrived at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne, in the Donetsk region [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russia reports fire at military facility near Ukraine border

A Russian defence ministry facility in the southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine has caught fire, the region’s governor has said.

There was no immediate information about damage or casualties, the governor said in a post on Telegram.

Images posted to social media showed a large funnel of smoke rising above the ground.

Pope says Mariupol ‘barbarously bombarded’

Pope Francis has described the war in Ukraine as a “macabre regression of humanity” that makes him “suffer and cry”, calling for humanitarian corridors to evacuate people trapped in the Mariupol steel factory.

Speaking to thousands of people in St Peter’s Square in Rome for his noon blessing, Francis again implicitly criticised Russia.

“My thoughts go immediately to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city of Mary, barbarously bombarded and destroyed,” he said of the mostly Russian-controlled southeastern port city, which is named after Mary. INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY67_May 1-02

Evacuated civilians from Mariupol still haven’t arrived in Zaporizhzhia

The 20 Ukrainian civilians who have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol on Saturday have yet to arrive in Zaporizhzhia.

Standing outside a reception tent in the eastern city, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid said it may be hours before the evacuated reach Zaporizhzhia.

The other 46 civilians evacuated from Mariupol today are headed to the separatist-controlled areas in Donetsk, she said.

“They have been interviewed by Russian media,” Abdel-Hamid said. “Some of them said they came from the Azolstal steel plant. They described that there’s hundreds of civilians still there.”

EU leans towards Russian oil ban by year’s end

The European Union is leaning towards a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year, two EU diplomats said, after talks between the European Commission and EU member states this weekend.

The EU is preparing a sixth package of sanctions against Russia over the invasion just over two months ago of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”. The package is expected to target Russian oil, Russian and Belarusian banks, as well as more individuals and companies.

The Commission, which is coordinating the EU response, held talks dubbed “confessionals” with small groups of EU countries and will aim to firm up its sanctions plan in time for a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday.

Russia should confiscate Western property: Lawmaker

Russia should confiscate property owned by Westerners in response to a proposal by US President Joe Biden to transfer the frozen assets of Russia’s elite to Ukraine, Russia’s most senior lawmaker said.

Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said the sumptuous yachts and villas of Russia’s oligarchs had not helped Russian development but that the West appeared to be engaged in simple “theft”.

“It is right to take mirror measures towards businesses in Russia whose owners come from unfriendly countries where such measures were taken: confiscate these assets,” Volodin, who often voices the Kremlin’s views, wrote on his Telegram channel.

“The proceeds from the sale should be used for the development of our country,” he said. “A dangerous precedent has been created: it should hit the ‘States like a boomerang.”

Ukraine warns of Russia missile threat from Belarus

Ukraine’s army says there is a threat of Russia carrying out missile attacks from the territory of Belarus.

Oleksandr Shtupun, the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that Russia continues to reinforce its equipment and military force in the Slobozhansk area of the Kharkiv region.

According to Shtupun, up to 300 weaponry units and 1,000 mobilised people arrived from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“For the purpose of air defence of the advancing troops in four specific areas, the enemy deployed two anti-aircraft missile divisions armed with the Buk-M2 air defence system and the Tor-M air defence system,” Shtupun said.

Russia says 46 civilians left area near Azovstal plant in Mariupol

Two groups of civilians left the residential area around the Azovstal steel plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Saturday, Russian news agencies cited the defence ministry as saying.

The ministry said a total of 46 civilians had left the area and were provided with food and shelter, RIA and TASS reported.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford said the location of the 20 civilians evacuated earlier from the steel plant is not yet known.

“There has been no verifiable proof of life,” he said. “It was hoped that they would be taken to Zaporizhzhia north of Mariupol but they haven’t been seen yet, and there are rumours that they may have been taken to the Russian side.”INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY67_May 1-03

Tensions remain high in pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria

After a series of mysterious attacks destroyed infrastructure last week in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, there are still fears that the war is widening beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker, reporting from Moldova’s capital of Chisinau, said that Western intelligence chiefs along with Ukrainian and Moldovan officials believe Russia staged the attacks in order to justify mobilising around 1,500 or so Russian troops permanently based in Transnistria, along with several thousand Transnistrian conscripts.

“It follows recent comments from a Russian commander saying that the Kremlin’s latest strategy was to try to link Russian troops in the east and south of Ukraine with Russian forces in Transnistria,” he said.

The comments have caused alarm in Moldova, which only has six and a half thousand underequipped soldiers, making it vulnerable to a swift Russian invasion. And like Ukraine, Moldova isn’t a member of the EU or NATO.

Former defence minister Vitalie Marinuta believes it is time to abandon neutrality as enshrined in Moldova’s constitution.

“I am one of the promoters of joining NATO, of not being neutral, and having allies which are militarily, economically and politically strong. But I’m in the minority [who believe so],” he said.

Ukrainian ambassador asks Germany to send modern weaponry

Ukraine is calling on Germany to supply it with more modern weaponry, just days after the German government approved the direct delivery of anti-aircraft tanks to the Ukrainian military for the first time.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the Gepard anti-aircraft tanks are already 40 years old. To defeat Russia, “we need the most modern German weapons”, he said.

What was needed, he said, was newer Leopard and Marder tanks as well as self-propelled howitzers “and much more”.

Russia’s Gazprom continues gas exports to Europe via Ukraine

Russian gas producer Gazprom said it was supplying natural gas to Europe via Ukraine on Sunday in line with requests from European consumers.

Requests stood at 97.2 million cubic metres (mcm) for May 1, up from 71.7 mcm on Saturday.

Ukraine president says he met United States’ Pelosi in Kyiv

President Zelenskyy said he has held a meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv and shared a video of her visit on Twitter.

“We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom … Your fight is a fight for everyone. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,” Pelosi said in the video.

She was joined by US Representatives Jason Crow, Jim McGovern and Adam Schiff.

Heavy shelling in Ukrainian village of Barvinkove

Ukraine’s eastern village of Barvinkove is the site of a new attempt by Russian forces to push south to surround the neighbouring city of Slovyansk.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford said it is unknown how many people are still inside the village.

“Since we’ve arrived, yet again, [there has been] a lot of heavy shelling we believe targeting the east of the town,” he said.

“So far at least, the Ukrainians have managed to keep Russian forces back. But there is a fear amongst the soldiers here, that the closer we get to May 9, a day that it’s believed Vladimir Putin wants something to show for Russian efforts in this war, the more tense and the more dangerous it becomes in areas like these.”

INTERACTIVE_RefugeesDAY67 - May1-01
(Al Jazeera)

Russia intends to exert strong influence in Kherson over long term: UK

The British Ministry of Defence says Russia has sought to legitimise its control of the city of Kherson and surrounding areas by installing a pro-Moscow administration.

The new government has declared a return to Ukraine control “impossible” and announced a four-month currency transition to the Russian rouble.

These moves “are likely indicative of Russian intent to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

“Enduring control over Kherson and its transport links will increase Russia’s ability to sustain its advance to the north and west and improve the security of Russia’s control over Crimea,” it added.

Biden praises journalists in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has praised the courage of journalists covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine in comments at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, DC.

“A poison is running through our democracy … with disinformation massively on the rise,” Biden said. “You, the free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century.”

Journalists, media executives, administration officials and celebrities attended the dinner. It included slideshows honouring the journalists who lost their lives in recent months covering Ukraine.

President Joe Biden speaks at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Washington.
Joe Biden speaks at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, April 30, 2022, in Washington, DC [Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

Russia says civilians killed in shelling near Kherson

Russia’s defence ministry says shelling by Ukraine’s forces of villages in the Kherson region has killed and injured civilians, according to the Russian RIA news agency.

The ministry said Ukrainian forces shelled a school, a kindergarten and a cemetery in the villages of Kyselivka and Shyroka Balka. It gave no information on how many people were killed or injured, or when the shelling took place.

There was no immediate response from Ukraine to the report.

UK says Russian troll factory spreading disinformation on social media

The British Foreign Office says Russia is using a troll factory to spread disinformation about the war in Ukraine on social media and target politicians across a number of countries including the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The foreign office cited UK-funded expert research, which it did not publish. It said the research exposed how the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign was designed to manipulate international public opinion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, boost support for it and recruit new sympathisers.

“We cannot allow the Kremlin and its shady troll farms to invade our online spaces with their lies about Putin’s illegal war,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

“The UK Government has alerted international partners and will continue to work closely with allies and media platforms to undermine Russian information operations.”

Can Europeans live without Russian gas?

The crisis between Russia and Europe, sparked by the war in Ukraine, has taken yet another turn.

This time, Moscow has delivered on its promise to halt gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for not paying in roubles, Russia’s currency. Though the action had been feared by some in the European Union, many had already predicted it.

Member states are now working to find alternative long-term supplies.

But what are these alternatives? Find out in the latest episode of Inside Story.

Turkey pledges ‘great efforts’ to end war

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkey’s president, has pledged “great efforts” to end the conflict in Ukraine after a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“Continuing the Istanbul process, in particular, can play a key role in ending this war,” Kalin told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency. “We will continue to make great efforts to end the war from now on. Because there will be no winner in this war. Ukraine and Russia will lose.”

But the “continuation of conflict and attacks by Russia make the [negotiation] process more difficult”, he said.

Kalin added that he held extensive discussions on evacuating civilians, particularly those trapped in Mariupol.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin is pictured during an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, Turkey September 27, 2020.
Turkish president’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin is pictured during an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, Turkey, September 27, 2020 [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]

Zelenskyy promises to rebuild Odesa runway

Ukraine’s president has accused Russia of launching attacks on the Dnipropetrovsk region as well as the city of Odesa in the country’s south.

“Again and again, Russian troops prove that the people of Odesa are the same enemies for Russia as all other Ukrainians. The runway of Odesa airport was destroyed. We will, of course, rebuild it. But Odesa will never forget such Russian attitudes towards it,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

He added that efforts were being made to “return normal life” in areas previously occupied by Russian forces.

“The work of humanitarian units has already begun on the territory of 93 percent of de-occupied settlements. We are actively de-mining the liberated territory. Every day several dozen settlements are added to the list of those where de-mining has ended. 69 percent of de-occupied settlements are again with full-fledged local self-government.”

Russia has lost 23,000 soldiers in ‘senseless war’: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president says Russia had lost more than 23,000 soldiers in what he described as a “senseless war”.

Speaking in his night-time video address, Zelenskyy said Ukraine had destroyed more than 1,000 Russian tanks, almost 200 planes, and nearly 2,500 armoured vehicles during the conflict.

He added that “thousands more Russian soldiers will be killed and thousands wounded in the coming weeks”.

Future of Europe depends on war in Ukraine, Moldova FM says

Moldova’s Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu has said the future of Europe rests on how the war in Ukrainian ends.

“I think the future of the entire continent rests on the capacity of Ukraine to maintain its political system, its country, its resilience,” Popescu told British broadcaster Sky News.

Moldova has been watching the conflict in Ukraine closely, particularly after a senior Russian military official said Russian forces aim to take full control of southern Ukraine, saying such a move would also open a land corridor to the separatist region of Transnistria, where Russia has stationed troops.

Transnistria, a strip of land with about 470,000 people between Moldova and Ukraine, has been under the control of separatist authorities since a 1992 war with Moldova.

Ballerina Olga Smirnova quits Bolshoi ballet over Ukraine war

A well-known Russian ballerina is starting a new life in the Netherlands because of the war in Ukraine.

Olga Smirnova says she was so ashamed by the invasion that she quit the Bolshoi ballet in Moscow to dance in Amsterdam.

Turkey presidential spokesman meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Saturday, his office said.

There were no immediate details about the content of Kalin’s meetings in Kyiv, but Ankara has been mediating between Ukraine and Russia in efforts to end the war.

Kalin was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.

Turkey is trying to pave the way for an Istanbul summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelenskyy.

Russian military plane briefly violates Swedish airspace

A Russian reconnaissance plane briefly violated Sweden’s airspace, say Swedish defence officials, as the Scandinavian country ponders a bid for NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“A Russian AN-30 propeller plane violated Swedish airspace on Friday evening,” the Swedish defence ministry said in a statement on Saturday evening, adding that its teams had followed the incident and photographed it.

The ministry said the plane was flying east of Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic, before it headed towards Swedish territory.

“It is totally unacceptable to violate Swedish airspace,” public television SVT quoted Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist as saying.

20 civilians leave Mariupol steel plant: Azov Regiment

A group of 20 civilians have left the Azovstal steelworks, where the last Ukrainian troops are holed up in the Black Sea port of Mariupol, according to the Azov Regiment.

“Twenty civilians, women and children … have been transferred to a suitable place and we hope that they will be evacuated to Zaporizhzhia, on territory controlled by Ukraine,” said Sviatoslav Palamar, the Azov Regiment’s deputy commander.

Earlier on Saturday, a correspondent from Russia’s TASS news agency reported from the city that 25 civilians – including six children younger than 14 – had left the site.

Russian rocket attack destroys Odesa runway

A Russian missile attack destroyed an airport runway in Odesa, Ukraine’s third-largest city and a key Black Sea port, the Ukrainian army has said.

In a Telegram post, Ukraine’s Operational Command South said there was no way that the Odesa runway could be used as a result of the missile attack.

Local authorities urged residents of the area to shelter in place as Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, citing army sources, reported that “several” explosions were heard in Odesa.

Odesa’s regional governor said the missile was fired from Russian-occupied Crimea. Maksym Marchenko said there were no reports of any injuries.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read the updates from Saturday, April 30 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies