Ukraine latest updates: Russia renews attack on steel plant

Ukraine news from May 3: Russian forces attack Mariupol steel plant as dozens of evacuees from the plant reach safety.

Smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol.
Civilians remain trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks as fighting resumes [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]
  • Russia says it is attacking offensive positions adopted by Ukrainian troops at Mariupol’s sprawling Azovstal steel plant.
  • A convoy carrying more than 100 civilian evacuees from Mariupol, most of whom were pulled from the steelworks on Sunday, reaches the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a decree on new retaliatory sanctions in response to “unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organisations”.

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These were the updates on Tuesday, May 3:

UN chief hopes for more ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Ukraine

The UN secretary-general says he hopes Ukraine and Russia can organise “more humanitarian pauses” such as the one that allowed the evacuation of about 100 Ukrainian civilians from the Azovstal steel plant.

“I hope the continued coordination with Kyiv and Moscow will lead to more humanitarian pauses that will allow civilians safe passage away from the fighting and aid to reach people where the needs are greatest,” Antonio Guterres said in a statement, without specifying which locations he meant.

Russian troops pressing ahead in Donbas: Ukraine military

Russian troops are attempting to further advance into the Donbas region from the north in order to surround Ukrainian forces stationed there, according to Ukrainian sources.

Individual armoured and infantry units and paratroopers struck targets along the front line between Izium and Barvenkov, the Ukrainian General Staff said in its situation report.

To aid these efforts, “the occupiers moved batteries of Tyulpan heavy mortars of 240-millimetre calibre and Smerch rocket launchers from the Belgorod region to the Izyum area,” the report said.

Russian troops were also attacking the towns of Lyman, Sievierodonetsk, Popasna, Avdiivka and Kurakhove, to press ahead with their offensive towards Lyman-Siversk and Slovyansk, the report said, adding that it remained unclear whether they had made any territorial gains.

German opposition leader in Kyiv says Ukraine fighting for democracy

Germany’s opposition leader has said Ukraine’s battle against Russia is a fight on behalf of freedom everywhere.

“The Chancellor [Scholz[ is right that it’s not just Ukraine that’s being defended here, but democracy and freedom – the very way we live in Germany,” Friedrich Merz, leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, said during a visit to Kyiv.

“These aren’t images you forget in a hurry,” he said of the destruction. “It’s not enough to see it on television: you have to see it in person to understand the extent of the tragedy.”

Russia says artillery hit 400 targets in one day

The Russian military says its artillery has hit more than 400 Ukrainian targets during the past 24 hours.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the targets included Ukrainian artillery positions, troops strongholds and two fuel depots.

Konashenkov said Russian aircrafts hit 39 other targets, including concentrations of troops and weapons and two command posts.

He charged that a US-supplied artillery radar, four air defence radars and six ammunition depots were destroyed with precision-guided weapons.

Propaganda in Russia arguing for nuclear weapons use: Nobel laureate

Russian journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov says Russian propaganda is arguing in favour of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, warning that would signal “the end of humanity”.

Muratov, whose own Novaya Gazata newspaper has been forced to suspend publication amid Moscow’s military intervention, warned that the Kremlin’s “propaganda warriors” were striving to make nuclear weapons use more palatable to the Russian public.

“I would not rule out the possibility that nuclear weapons might be used,” Muratov told journalists in Geneva.

Explosions heard in western city of Lviv

Explosions have been heard in the western Ukraine city of Lviv, which has so far been largely spared from the conflict.

At least four distinct explosions could be heard from downtown Lviv, the AP news agency reported.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Twitter that those in the city should take shelter.

It was not immediately clear what was targeted. Sadovyi said in a separate post that the power supply had been affected.

Transnistria accuses Ukraine of flying bomb-laden drone

The government of the separatist Moldovan region of Transnistria has accused Ukrainian forces of attempting to destroy broadcast facilities in the region.

“According to information from specialists, the drone with the dangerous cargo started on the Ukrainian side,” a statement by the interior ministry of the pro-Russian separatist region said.

The drone was destroyed, the statement added.

More than 400,000 Ukrainians fled to Germany since conflict began

More than 400,000 refugees from Ukraine have entered Germany since the Russian invasion began, the interior ministry has said.

German authorities recorded the arrival of 400,632 refugees since Russian tanks rolled over the border on February 24, including 180,000 children.

France’s Macron offers to help lift Russia embargo on Ukraine food exports

French President Emmanuel Macron has told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that he is willing to work with international organisations to help lift the Russian embargo on Ukrainian food exports via the Black Sea.

The Elysee Palace office said Macron was deeply concerned about the situation in Donbas and Mariupol. “I have called on Russia to live up to its international responsibility as a UN Security Council member by putting an end to this devastating attack,” a statement quoted Macron as saying.

At least 10 killed in Russian strike on east Ukraine factory: Governor

At least 10 people have been killed and 15 wounded in a Russian strike on a coke plant in the east Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Telegram.

He warned that the number of victims may rise.

Ukrainian prosecutor accuses Russian troops of using rape as a war tactic

Ukraine’s prosecutor general has accused Russian forces of using rape as a tactic of war and described Putin as “the main war criminal of the 21st century”.

Visiting the devastated town of Irpin near Kyiv, Iryna Venediktova said Ukraine was collecting information on allegations of rape, torture and other suspected war crimes by Moscow’s troops.

Asked whether rape was a deliberate Russian strategy in the war, she told a news conference she was “sure” it was a “strategy” intended to scare Ukrainian civilians and force the country to capitulate. She provided no specific details of the rape allegations.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and rejected allegations that its forces have committed war crimes.

UN official says Mariupol evacuation effort was ‘hugely complicated’

Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, a United Nations official who oversaw the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, about 220km (137 miles) to the northwest, has described the effort as “hugely complicated”.

“There is an active conflict raging in and around Mariupol, so we had to take a very circuitous route,” Stampa, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) emergency response section, told Al Jazeera.

He said the buses carrying civilians out of Mariupol were escorted by Russian soldiers who led the convoy “down back roads and across dirt tracks” in a bid to keep it away from shelling, mined routes and raging battles.

“A journey from Mariupol to Manhush, which would normally take 20 minutes, took 12 hours yesterday,” Stampa said.

He added he believed there were more people trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, but warned they were likely “terrified to come out”.

“Many of the people I have spoken to thought they might be forced to go somewhere they didn’t want to go or be arrested for having been in the steel factory with the fighters,” Stampa said.

Putin tells Macron the West could use its influence to stop ‘atrocities’ in Ukraine

The Kremlin says that Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during talks by phone between the pair that the West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Putin argued Kyiv’s allies could help end “war crimes [and] massive shelling of towns and settlements in Donbas”, leading to civilian casualties, by halting military aid to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government and “exerting appropriate influence” on the Ukrainian president, according to a readout of the call published by Moscow.

Russia denies alleged war crimes by its own forces in Ukraine and has blamed the deaths of civilians on what it calls nationalists and “neo-Nazis”, a claim dismissed by Kyiv and the West.

Putin also told Macron that Moscow was still ready for dialogue with Ukraine over ending the war “despite Kyiv’s inconsistency and its lack of readiness for serious work”, the Kremlin said.

Civilians still trapped in ‘hell’ in Mariupol: Red Cross

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Ukraine says that an unknown number of civilians remain trapped in Mariupol and surrounding areas after dozens of evacuees reached Zaporizhzhia.

“We would have hoped that many more people would have been able to join the convoy and get out of hell. That is why we have mixed feelings,” Pascal Hundt told reporters via Zoom.

Hundt also expressed concern about signs that intense fighting had resumed in and around the plant but said the ICRC would continue to press for access to the remaining civilians.

EU official says new sanctions on Russia to target oil, more banks

The European Union’s top diplomat says the bloc is working on new sanctions against Russia for waging war on Ukraine that will target Moscow’s oil industry and additional financial institutions.

“We are working on the sixth package of sanctions which aims to de-SWIFT more banks, list disinformation actors and tackle oil imports,” Josep Borrell said in a tweet.

Citing unnamed officials, the Reuters news agency reported that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was expected to spell out the proposed sanctions on Wednesday.

Evacuation buses carried ‘women, children and the elderly’: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Zaporizhzhia, says five buses carrying evacuees from Mariupol have arrived in the city.

“The buses were carrying women, children and the elderly,” Abdel-Hamid said.

“These were the only people who were allowed to evacuate from the Azovstal steel plant,” she added.

“It took three days to get them from there to here, on a route that would normally take about three hours [to complete] … The UN said that at every point, there had to be negotiations about what was going on.”

People rest next to a bus as civilians from Mariupol, including evacuees from Azovstal steel plant, travel in a convoy to Zaporizhzhia
Civilian evacuees from Mariupol rest next to a bus as they travel in a convoy to Zaporizhzhia [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Convoy carrying evacuees from Mariupol reaches Zaporizhzhia

The UN’s aid coordinator for Ukraine says a convoy of more than 100 civilians evacuated from Mariupol, including from the Azovstal steel plant, has reached the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia.

Osnat Lubrani said the group of 127 people included 101 individuals who left a maze of tunnels and bunkers beneath the steelworks on Sunday and “could finally … see the daylight after two months”.

The evacuees were receiving humanitarian assistance, including health and psychological care, from the UN, the ICRC and other aid agencies.

Lubrani added that 58 people had joined the convoy in a town on the outskirts of Mariupol but some had decided not to travel all the way to Zaporizhzhia.

Russian forces storming Azovstal steel plant

The deputy commander of the Azov battalion, a Ukrainian regiment holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, says Russian forces have started to storm the facility.

Sviatoslav Palamar told The Associated Press news agency that reports in Ukrainian media that the site – the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in a city otherwise controlled by Moscow’s forces – was being attacked were “true”.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mariupol patrol police chief Mykhailo Vershinin was quoted by Ukrainian television as saying that the Russian military “have started to storm the plant in several places”.

The development comes almost two weeks after Putin ordered Russia’s military not to storm the plant, but rather block it off. About 200 civilians remain trapped underground there despite a UN-brokered evacuation that took place on Sunday.

UK PM announces $375m military aid package for Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth 300 million pounds ($375m), including electronic warfare equipment and a counter-battery radar system.

“I have one message for you today: Ukraine will win, Ukraine will be free,” Johnson said as he announced the support in an address to the Ukrainian parliament via video link.

“The so-called irresistible force of Putin’s war machine has broken on the immoveable object of Ukrainian patriotism and love of country,” he added.

‘It’s our heritage’: Defending Ukraine’s modernist architecture

Amid the devastation of Russia’s invasion, activists are battling to save Ukraine’s rich Soviet-era architecture.

Read more here.

India’s Modi calls for ceasefire in Ukraine

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

“We appealed for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and for the adoption of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the problem,” Modi told reporters at a news briefing in Copenhagen.

Modi is currently on a diplomatic tour of Europe that has already seen him visit Germany and will include a trip to France on Wednesday.

Russia says its forces are firing on Ukrainian troops at Mariupol steelworks

Russian forces are shelling and bombing offensive positions adopted by Ukrainian troops at the sprawling, Soviet-era Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, a spokesman for the country’s defence ministry says.

Vadim Astafyev said Ukrainian forces and “militants” from the Azov battalion had emerged from the facility’s basements during a ceasefire which had been agreed to allow for civilian evacuations and taken up “firing positions on the territory and in the buildings of the plant”, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Astafyev said Russian army units and fighters from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic were using “artillery and aircraft” to “destroy” the offensive positions.

The steel plant is the last stronghold of Ukrainian fighters resisting Russia’s siege on Mariupol. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv on Moscow’s claims.

‘Orcs’ and ‘Rashists’: Ukraine’s new language of war

From Zelenskyy to regional representatives, Ukrainian officials have used frank terminology to discuss the war with the country’s public.

Read more here.

Nine civilians killed by shelling in Donetsk: Governor

At least nine civilians have been killed by Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, its governor says.

Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post that at least three civilians had been killed during an aerial bombardment of the town of Avdiivka.

Three more were killed by shelling of the city of Vuhledar and three were killed in shelling of the town of Lyman, he added.

Russia launched a new offensive in eastern Ukraine focused on the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, collectively known as the Donbas, after abandoning an assault on the capital, Kyiv, at the end of March.

Putin signs decree on new retaliatory sanctions

Russia’s president has approved new retaliatory economic sanctions in response to the “unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organisations”, the Kremlin says.

According to the decree, Moscow will forbid the export of products and raw materials to entities in states that have imposed sanctions on Russia.

The decree also prohibits transactions with foreign individuals and companies hit by Russia’s retaliatory sanctions and permits Russian counterparties not to fulfil obligations towards them.

The document does not provide any details of which individuals or entities may be affected by the measures.

INTERACTIVE- Which countries have sanctioned Russia - APRIL 1

Ukrainian forces holding back ‘push by Russian forces’: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, says officials in the Donbas claim Ukrainian forces are staving off Russian attacks in the region.

“The Luhansk regional military administration says that so far today Ukrainian forces have managed to hold back a push by Russian forces in various areas across the region, including in places such as Rubizhne and Popasna,” Stratford said.

“Seemingly the Russians are unable to make any serious gains in pushing towards what we understand is the big prize for them – the urban centres of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk,” he added.

Veteran Ukrainian writer reportedly dies in Mariupol

A veteran Ukrainian journalist and writer has died in Mariupol, her colleague says.

Natalia Harakoz, 86, was born into an ethnic Greek family and described the life of Ukraine’s Greek diaspora in several books published between 1989 and 2013.

After Russian shelling destroyed her apartment and library, she had to relocate to the basement of her apartment building, her colleague Anna Kotykhova told the Institute of Mass Information NGO on Tuesday. Kot did not specify the cause of death.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify Kotykhova’s claim.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Macron to speak with Putin by phone

Macron will hold talks with Putin by phone at about midday Paris time (10:00 GMT) on Tuesday, his office has said.

The French president last spoke to his Russian counterpart on March 29.

WHO to hold urgent meeting on effect of invasion on healthcare

A spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that its European branch will hold a special meeting next week on the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on healthcare.

“There will be a meeting on 10 May on the impact of war on Ukraine health system,” Tarik Jasarevic told reporters at the global health body’s headquarters in Geneva.

How to dodge media censorship in Russia: Leave and use Telegram

Amid Russia’s media crackdown, independent outlet DOXA – like others – has had to reinvent itself.

Read more here.

Russia accuses Israel of supporting ‘neo-Nazis’ in row over Ukraine

Moscow has accused Israel of supporting “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine, further escalating a controversy which first erupted when foreign minister Lavrov made a baseless claim that Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins.

Israel lambasted Lavrov on Monday, with foreign minister Yair Lapid saying his claim – made when talking about Zelenskyy, who is Jewish – was an “unforgivable” falsehood that debased the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.

In response, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Lapid’s comments were “anti-historical” and suggested they largely explain “why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv”.

The ministry also reiterated Lavrov’s point that Zelenskyy’s Jewish origins did not preclude Ukraine from being run by neo-Nazis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Lavrov made the Hitler assertion on Italian television on Sunday when he was asked why Russia said it needed to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine if Zelenskyy was himself Jewish [File: Yuri Kochetkov/Pool via AP]

Russia says it hit logistics centre near Odesa

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have struck a logistics centre located at a military airfield near Ukraine’s southwestern city of Odesa with high-precision missiles.

The ministry said the facility housed weaponry provided to Kyiv by its Western allies.

“Hangars containing unmanned Bayraktar TB2 drones, as well as missile weapons and ammunition from the US and European countries, were destroyed,” it said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Kyiv on the claims, while Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports.

Slovakia to seek exemption from any EU embargo on Russian oil

Slovakia will seek an exemption from any European Union embargo on Russian oil agreed by the bloc as part of the next set of possible sanctions against Moscow, the country’s economy ministry says.

“If it comes to an approved embargo of Russian oil as part of a further package of sanctions against Russia, then Slovakia will request an exemption,” the ministry said.

Russian forces pressing on Rubizhne and Popasna, Ukraine’s military says

Russian forces are trying to take over the key towns of Rubizhne and Popasna in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region as they continue their offensive in the Donbas, Ukraine’s military has said.

The Russians are seeking to press towards Lyman and Sloviansk in the north of the Donetsk region, which neighbours Luhansk, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Facebook on Tuesday. The eastern wing of Ukraine’s armed forces is concentrated in Sloviansk.

The Russians are also trying to advance in the Izium district of the northeastern Kharkiv region, Ukraine’s military said, but bad roads and wet soil are preventing them from making progress.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

More than 200 civilians still in Mariupol steel plant: Mayor

More than 200 civilians are still holed up with fighters in a huge steel plant in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Mariupol, according to its mayor.

Vadym Boychenko said that a total of about 100,000 civilians are still in the port city, which has been occupied by Russian forces.

Italy aims for independence from Russian gas by mid-2024: Minister

Italy aims to cut off its dependence on Russian gas by the second half of 2024, Italy’s ecological transition minister has said.

“We should be autonomous by the second half of 2024, we could do without importing Russian gas,” Roberto Cingolani said in an interview with La Repubblica daily.

Pope asked for meeting with Putin

Pope Francis says he asked for a meeting in Moscow with Putin to try to stop the war in Ukraine but has not received a response.

Francis, who made an unprecedented visit to the Russian embassy when the war started, told Italy’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper that about three weeks into the conflict, he asked the Vatican’s top diplomat to send a message to Russia’s leader.

The pope said the message made clear he was willing to go to Moscow.

“Certainly, it was necessary for the Kremlin leader to allow an opening. We have not yet received a response and we are still insisting,” Francis added.

“I fear that Putin cannot, and does not, want to have this meeting at this time. But how can you not stop so much brutality?”

Pope Francis reaches his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square to recite the Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2022
The pope said his message to Putin made clear he was willing to visit Moscow [Gregorio Borgia/AP]

Shelling kills three in Donetsk: Officials

At least three civilians were killed in the Russian shelling of the city of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region on Tuesday, according to Zelenskyy’s office.

Some other areas of Donetsk were under constant fire and regional authorities were trying to evacuate civilians from front-line areas, Reuters quoted the office as saying.

Russia unable to translate military ‘numerical strength into decisive advantage’: UK

Russia has not been able to take advantage, in Ukraine, of its more than decade-long military modernisation programme, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said Russia’s defence budget roughly doubled between 2005 and 2018, adding that “failures both in strategic planning and operational execution have left” Russia “unable to translate numerical strength into decisive advantage”.

Russia’s military is significantly weaker as a result of its war in Ukraine and “this will have a lasting impact on Russia’s ability to deploy conventional military force,” the ministry said.

Ukraine says 220 children killed amid war

At least 220 children have been killed amid the war in Ukraine and 406 others wounded, according to the office of the country’s prosecutor general.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures provided.

Russian forces pause before assaults on Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia: Think-tank

There were no confirmed Russian ground attacks on Monday, with its forces instead shelling Ukrainian positions on the front lines, the Institute for the Study of War says.

It added that the Ukrainian artillery attack on Russian command headquarters near Izium on April 30 likely disrupted Russian operations on the Izium axis and may hinder Russian offensives from there for the next few days.

But the Institute said that Russian forces on the southern axis continued to regroup, likely in preparation for ground assaults in the direction of Kryvyi Rih, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhzhia.

Russia’s Bolshoi cancels shows by directors who spoke out over Ukraine

Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre has cancelled shows this week by directors who spoke out against the war in Ukraine, the Guardian reported.

The theatre dropped Timofey Kulyabin’s production of the opera Don Pasquale and Kirill Serebrennikov’s ballet Nureyev, which will be replaced by productions of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Aram Khachaturian’s ballet Spartacus.

Serebrennikov, who left Russia in March, told France 24 in an interview last month that “It’s quite obvious that Russia started the war,” and it was breaking his heart.

Kulyabin, who has also left Russia, expressed solidarity with Ukraine on Instagram and ridiculed Russia’s description of its actions there, the Guardian wrote.

Air raid sirens activated in Ukraine’s south and east

Air raid sirens have been activated across the south and east of Ukraine over the past hour, including in Kramatorsk district and the regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Poltava.

Several residents of the Mykolaiv region reported explosions on social media. Al Jazeera could not independently verify these reports.

EU to pass new Russia sanctions: Borrell

The EU hopes to pass the sixth round of sanctions against Russia at the next meeting of its Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), the bloc’s chief diplomat has said.

The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, is expected to propose the sanctions package this week, including a potential embargo on buying Russian oil.

Josep Borrell, who chairs FAC meetings, told journalists in Panama city he hopes the EU will be able to take “measures to significantly limit these imports” but conceded so far there is no agreement from all members.

“But I am confident that, at least with regard to oil imports, this agreement will be possible between now and the next council meeting,” he added. The FAC has meetings scheduled for May 10 and May 16.

Nearly 2,000 children taken to Russia from Ukraine, Moscow says

More than 11,500 people, including 1,847 children, have been moved from Ukraine into Russia on Monday without Kyiv’s participation, Russia’s defence ministry said, adding that the tally is now nearly 200,000 children and 1.1 million people evacuated into Russia since February 24.

That number includes evacuations from Russian-backed breakaway regions of Ukraine, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, which Russia recognised as independent just before launching its invasion.

Russia says the people were evacuated at their own request, while Ukraine said Moscow has forcefully deported thousands to Russia since the war began.

Yehor, 7, stands holding a wooden toy rifle next to destroyed Russian military vehicles near Chernihiv.
Yehor, 7, stands holding a wooden toy rifle next to destroyed Russian military vehicles near Chernihiv, April 17, [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

Russia must be held accountable for sex crimes: Ukraine official

Ukraine’s ambassador-designate to Canada says Russia must be held accountable for its troops committing sex crimes, including against children.

Yulia Kovaliv told a Canadian House of Commons committee that Russia is using sexual violence as a weapon of war and said rape and sexual assault must be investigated as war crimes.

She said Russia had kidnapped Ukrainian children and taken them to Russian-occupied territories and now Russia itself. Ukraine is working with partners to find the children and bring them back.

“Russians, a few days ago, killed a young mother and taped her living child to her body and attached a mine between them,″ the ambassador said. She said the mine detonated.

Ukraine finds 1,202 bodies in Kyiv region

Ukraine says its law enforcement officers have found 1,202 bodies of Ukrainian citizens killed by Russian forces in the Kyiv region, Ukrinform reports.

“Unfortunately, we have horrible finds and record the crimes committed by the Russian army in Kyiv region almost every day. So far, 1,202 bodies of killed civilians have been … handed to forensic institutions to determine the final cause of death.

“Of them, 280 people are currently unidentified,” Kyiv region police chief Andriy Nebytov said during the nationwide telethon.

Pelosi signs US lend-lease bill

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has returned to Washington, after a surprise trip to Ukraine, to sign legislation which would streamline sending aid to Kyiv.

US President Joe Biden’s legislation passed last week by Congress would update a World War II-era military lend-lease law and bypass red tape in the process of sending aid to Ukraine. Biden is expected to sign it into law.

Russia kicked out of more football championships

The Union of European Football Associations has kicked Russian football teams out of the Women’s European Championship, the next men’s Champions League and the qualifiers for the 2023 women’s World Cup.

The latest round of sporting sanctions on Monday followed UEFA and FIFA suspending Russian national and club teams in February from playing in international competitions, including the men’s World Cup playoffs.

Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden will ban from their national ice hockey teams any players who appear in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League next season. Both ice hockey federations announced their decisions on Monday, two days after the Russian league’s season ended.

More than 3,000 dead in Ukraine, UN confirms

The United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) has confirmed that the death toll of civilians killed in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 has exceeded 3,000 people.

The toll of 3,153 killed so far represents an increase of 254 from Friday, OHCHR said on Monday. It added the real toll is likely considerably higher due to access difficulties and continuing corroboration efforts.

Most of the victims were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, such as missile and air attacks, the rights office said, without attributing responsibility.

Russia plans to annex eastern Ukraine’s separatist republics by mid-may: US official

A senior official says the United States believes Russia is planning this month to annex large portions of eastern Ukraine and recognise the southern city of Kherson as an independent republic.

Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told reporters in Washington that the suspected actions are “straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook” and will not be recognised by the White House or its partners and allies.

Carpenter said the US and others have information that Russia is planning “sham referenda” in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” that would attach the entities to Russia. He also said there were signs that Russia would engineer an independence vote in the city of Kherson.

Carpenter did not detail the information that led to the assessment, although there have been public reports that Russia is moving to exert greater control over areas that it already controls and occupies in eastern and southern Ukraine. He pointed to evidence that local mayors and legislators there have been abducted, that internet and cell phone service had been severed and that Russian school curricula is soon to be imposed.

More explosions in Russia’s Belgorod: RIA

Moscow’s state news agency RIA says one of its correspondents heard “a loud bang, similar to the sound of an explosion of medium strength”, in the centre of Belgorod city.

RIA added that several citizens also heard the “clap” and that “immediately after the incident, car alarms went off in the streets”.

The governor of the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, had reported two explosions on Sunday night. But he dispelled notions that “something flew in from the territory of Ukraine”, saying it was likely Russia’s air force was performing “combat tasks as part of its special military operation” in Ukraine.

Progress in negotiations is Russia ending war: Ukraine official

For Kyiv, progress in any negotiations would be for Russia to withdraw its troops and move out of occupied territories, the head of Ukraine’s president’s office said on CNN.

“For us, the fundamental things we are not ready to compromise on are our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Andriy Yermak told Fareed Zakaria on Monday night.

He confirmed that the majority of Russian troops are now concentrated in southeastern Ukraine, particularly in the Donbas.

Mariupol evacuation to continue Tuesday: Zelenskyy

The operation to evacuate civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol will continue on Tuesday, Zelenskyy says.

“We continue to do everything to save our people from Mariupol,” he said.

“Tomorrow we also expect movement through humanitarian corridors from Berdyansk, Tokmak, Vasylivka,” Zelenskyy added in his address on Monday night.

People arrive at a reception centre for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia.
People arrive at a reception centre for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, May 2 [Francisco Seco/AP]

UK to give Ukraine nearly $400m in military aid

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out a new package of military aid worth 300 million British Pounds ($374m), to support Ukraine’s defence. The package includes electronic warfare equipment, a counter-battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices, according to a government statement.

“This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national story that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come,” Johnson will say in a speech to Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday, as the British embassy reopens in Kyiv.

The UK will also send heavy lift systems to provide logistical support to isolated forces. More than a dozen new specialised four-wheel drive cars will be sent to help protect civilian officials in eastern Ukraine and evacuate civilians from front-line areas, following a request from the Ukrainian government.

US must continue giving Ukraine military aid, intelligence: Legislator

US Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff says Washington “must do even more” to ensure that Ukraine gets the intelligence it needs from US agencies in the face of Russia’s continuing invasion.

“U.S. intelligence helped expose Putin’s plans to the world. That helped unite our allies around sanctions. We must do even more,” Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter.

He also said the US “must continue to give military aid to Ukraine”, as well as humanitarian assistance to those seeking refuge inside and outside of the country.

Ukrainian foreign minister thanks Slovakia

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has thanked neighbouring Slovakia for its support.

“Warm welcome for Ukrainians fleeing the war, humanitarian aid, arms supplies, support for granting Ukraine EU candidate status and allowing tariff-free exports to the EU,” Kuleba said in a tweet. “We are lucky to have Slovakia as a neighbor.”

Schumer joins world leaders in slamming Lavrov’s comments

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the US, has condemned as “sickening” Lavrov’s comments about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I have only one word for this: Sickening,” Schumer said in the US Senate.

“You’re fooling no one,” he added. “The crimes of Russia are as plain as day for the world to see.”

US senator hopes for Senate action on Ukraine aid

Schumer says he hopes the Senate will take up Biden’s request for $33bn in emergency aid for Ukraine soon.

“It is my hope that a bipartisan agreement can be reached very soon and that the Senate can begin processing this aid package on the floor as early as next week,” the Democratic Party leader said in remarks opening the Senate.

“Quickly approving this emergency funding is essential to helping the people of Ukraine in their fight against Russia,” Schumer said.

Zelenskyy denounces deadly Russian attack in Odesa

Zelenskyy says the Russian missile that hit a dwelling and a church in Odesa killed a 14-year-old boy and injured a 17-year old girl.

“What is this? What for? How did these kids and this dormitory threaten Russia?” the president said.

Russia reroutes internet traffic in occupied Kherson

Russia has rerouted internet traffic in the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson through Russian communications infrastructure, the internet service disruption monitor NetBlocks has said.

“Connectivity … has been routed via Russia’s internet instead of Ukrainian telecoms infrastructure and is hence likely now subject to Russian internet regulations, surveillance, and censorship,” NetBlocks said on its website.

The London-based group said it had tracked a near-total internet blackout across Kherson on Saturday, which affected various Ukrainian providers. Connection was restored after several hours, but metrics showed traffic was going through Russia.

Zelenskyy slams Lavrov’s comments on Hitler

Zelenskyy has slammed Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s comments on Jewish people and Adolf Hitler, which included a false claim that Hitler was Jewish.

“Such an anti-Semitic attack by their minister means that Russian authorities have forgotten all the lessons of World War II, or maybe they never learned those lessons,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly address.

“These words mean that Russia’s top diplomat puts the blame on the Jewish people for Nazi crimes. I have no words,” he said.

Germany wants to keep Russia sanctions until peace deal is signed

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Putin signs a peace deal with Ukraine.

“We won’t withdraw the sanctions unless he reaches an agreement with Ukraine, and he won’t get that with a dictated peace,” Scholz said on ZDF public television.

He also said Germany also would not accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

US first lady to travel to Romania and Slovakia

Jill Biden has said she is heading to Romania and Slovakia later this week to visit with Ukrainian families who fled for their lives.

“As a mother myself, I can only imagine the grief families are feeling,” said the mother of three. “I know that we might not share a language, but I hope that I can convey … that their resilience inspires me, that they are not forgotten, and that all Americans stand with them still.”

Jill Biden is scheduled to depart Washington late on Thursday on the five-day trip.

Italy approves stimulus measures

Italy approved a new stimulus package worth $14.71bn to shield firms and families from the economic effects of the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The measures will not push up the country’s budget deficit this year and will partly be financed by increasing a windfall tax on energy companies, Draghi told reporters after cabinet approved the government decree.

Biden has no current plans to visit Ukraine: White House

Biden would “love to visit Ukraine” but there are no current plans for him to do so, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Psaki said the White House would continue to assess the situation, and underscored the Biden administration’s objective to reopen the US Embassy and have US diplomats on site.

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

Read the updates from Monday, May 2 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies