Ukraine latest updates: 50 more civilians rescued from Azovstal

Ukraine news from May 6: Eleven children among 50 civilians evacuated from besieged Mariupol steel plant.

A woman evacuated from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walks
A woman evacuated from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walks accompanied by a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a service member of pro-Russian troops [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]
  • Dozens of civilians, including children, have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal complex in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol
  • G7 leaders will hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday, says a German government spokeswoman.
  • US President Joe Biden says he is “open” to imposing more sanctions on Russia and would be discussing measures with allies from the G7 in the next few days.
  • Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has said, in a further reversal of a longtime policy not to send heavy weapons to war zones due to the country’s Nazi past.
  • Amnesty International says it has documented war crimes in Ukraine, including the “wilful killings of civilians” by Russian forces when they occupied an area northeast of Kyiv in February and March.
INTERACTIVE - Donbas control map - DAY 71
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These were the updates on Friday, May 6:

Mystery mega-yacht appears ready to set sail from Italy

A mega-yacht at the centre of a mystery over its ownership appeared ready to set sail from Italy, an AFP photographer saw, as speculation swirls it might belong to the Russian president.

“Scheherazade”, worth an estimated $700m, is the subject of a probe into its ownership by Italy’s financial police.

It had been berthed for several months for maintenance work at a shipyard at the Marina di Carrara, within the western seaside town of Massa.

Now, the yacht is back on water but the mystery remains unresolved: who does “Scheherazade” belong to? A Russian oligarch? Vladimir Putin?

Built by Germany’s Luerssen in 2020, the 140-metre yacht features two helipads, a swimming pool and a cinema, according to the SuperYachtFan website, which researches yachts and their owners.

UN Security Council adopts first statement supporting peaceful solution in Ukraine

The United Nations Security Council has adopted its first statement supporting the UN chief’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Ukraine “dispute”.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the UN Security Council
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a screen as he addresses the United Nations Security Council via video link during a meeting last month [File: Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

UN Security Council, including Russia, express concern about Ukraine

The UN Security Council, including Russia, has expressed “deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine” and backed efforts by the UN chief to find a peaceful solution in the body’s first statement since Moscow’s invasion.

Security Council statements are agreed by consensus. The brief text adopted on Friday was drafted by Norway and Mexico.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine,” it reads. “The Security Council recalls that all Member States have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.”

“The Security Council expresses strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General in the search for a peaceful solution,” reads the statement, which also requests UN chief Antonio Guterres brief the council again “in due course.”

Ukraine official says 50 people evacuated from Azovstal plant

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said 50 women, children and elderly people were evacuated from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol and accused Russia of constantly violating a local ceasefire.

“Therefore the evacuation was extremely slow … tomorrow morning we will continue the evacuation operation,” she said in an online post.

A family evacuated from Mariupol's Azovstal plant
A family evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal plant arrives at a registration and processing area for internally displaced people in Zaporizhzhia [File: Dimitar Dilkoff/ AFP]

Azovstal evacuations resume

Evacuations of civilians trapped in a bombed-out steelworks in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol have resumed.

At least 25 civilians, including children, were evacuated from the Azovstal complex in the port city, which is besieged by Russian forces, to a camp in the Russian-controlled town of Bezimenne.

A girl looks trhrough a bus window
A girl looks through the bus window as civilians evacuated from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrive at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russian foreign ministry summons UK ambassador over media sanctions

The Russian foreign ministry has said it had summoned Deborah Bronnert, the UK’s ambassador to Russia, and strongly protested in relation to new UK sanctions on Russian media.

The ministry said in a statement Russia would continue to react “harshly and decisively” to all sanctions imposed by London.

The UK imposed sanctions on individual journalists and media organisations earlier in May in its latest wave of measures designed to increase pressure on Moscow to stop what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine.

Hit by Ukraine conflict, Africa faces ‘unprecedented’ crisis: UN

Africa faces an “unprecedented” crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, particularly with soaring food and fuel prices, United Nations officials has said.

The conflict and Western sanctions on Moscow are disrupting supplies of wheat, fertiliser and other goods, compounding difficulties facing Africa from climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented crisis for the continent,” UNDP Africa chief economist Raymond Gilpin told a press conference in Geneva.

Gilpin, who spoke by video conference from New York, said there were risks from a widespread surge in inflation, particularly in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.

“We are seeing a reduction of GDP growth on the continent, supposed to rise slightly this year after COVID-19,” he said.

Ukraine announces new prisoner exchange with Russia

Russia has handed over 41 people, including 28 military personnel, in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app that it was “especially gratifying” that a senior representative of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was among those returned to Ukraine.

Second bus with 13 civilians leaves besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol

A second bus, carrying 13 civilians including one child, on Friday left the Azovstal complex in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which is besieged by Russian forces, the Russian state news agency RIA has reported, citing its correspondent on site.

Earlier on Friday, 12 people including children were brought from Azovstal to the Russian-controlled town of Bezimenne, hours after Ukraine had accused Russia of violating a ceasefire aimed at evacuating civilians trapped underground in the bombed-out steelworks.

‘Not isolated incidents’: Amnesty accuses Russia of war crimes

Amnesty International says it has documented war crimes in Ukraine, including the “wilful killings of civilians” by Russian forces when they occupied an area northeast of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in February and March.

Civilians have also suffered abuse such as “reckless shootings and torture” at the hands of Russian forces in the early stages of Russia’s invasion, the rights group said in a report published on Friday.

Read more here.

Months into the Ukraine war, has Germany’s position changed?

Throughout Russia’s war on Ukraine, Germany’s foreign, trade and security policy has been under the microscope.

The current German government – a coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats – has been repeatedly accused of adopting a relatively soft line towards Moscow, compared with its European and American allies.

Read more here.

Pentagon denies helping Ukraine sink Moskva

The Pentagon has denied reports that it helped Ukrainian forces sink the Russian warship Moskva in the Black Sea last month in a stunning setback for Moscow’s invasion.

“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Kirby said the US had “no prior knowledge” of the plan to strike the ship, which sank on April 13, leaving a still-unclear number of Russian sailors dead or missing.

“We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” Kirby said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks at a podium
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the US had ‘no prior knowledge’ of the plan to strike the ship [File: Alex Wong/AFP]

Taiwan adds Belarus to export control list

Taiwan’s government has imposed controls on exports of technology to Belarus, saying Minsk was directly involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The restrictions – which the island also imposed on Russia last month – bar Taiwanese companies from exporting a long list of tech products there without special permission.

The move is largely symbolic given Taiwan’s minimal levels of direct trade with Belarus or Russia.

The export control list includes equipment for making semiconductors, an industry where Taiwan is a world leader, as well as lasers and navigation systems. It is meant to prevent technology from being using for military purposes.

Mariupol authorities say Russia violates ceasefire during evacuation

Local authorities in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol have accused Russian forces of opening fire on a car on its way to evacuate civilians from a vast steel works, killing a fighter and violating a ceasefire agreement.

Russia did not immediately comment on the Mariupol city council’s statement. Moscow has denied targeting civilians and had offered a ceasefire to allow the evacuation of civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant with Ukrainian fighters.

“During the ceasefire on the territory of the Azovstal plant a car was hit by Russians using an anti-tank guided weapon. This car was moving towards civilians in order to evacuate them from the plant,” Mariupol city council said in an online post.

A man is seen walking near a destroyed residential building in Mariupol
A man walks near a residential building destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of trying escape war crime prosecutions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Russia thought it could escape prosecutions for war crimes because of the threat of a nuclear attack.

“They do not believe that they can be made responsible for the war crimes because they have the power of the nuclear state”, Zelenskyy, speaking through a translator, told Britain’s Chatham House think-tank.

“This is the 72nd day of the fully fledged war and we can see no end of it yet and we cannot feel any willingness of the Russian side to end it.”

German economy minister to visit Russian-owned Schwedt oil refinery

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck was expected to visit the PCK oil refinery in Brandenburg on Monday, where he is to hold talks with its management and staff as part of efforts to reduce Germany’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, his ministry announced.

The refinery is controlled by state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft and is a key factor in Germany’s failure to rapidly reduce its dependence on Russian oil supplies in the medium term.

In view of the planned EU embargo on Russian oil, Habeck has raised concerns about potential supply issues, especially in eastern Germany.

Habeck has announced his intention to tackle the issue several times, with some observers suggesting that he might use an amendment to the Energy Security Act currently making its way through the Bundestag, which would allow the federal government to place the refinery under state trusteeship or even to expropriate it.

Zelenskyy calls on German chancellor to visit Ukraine on May 9

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to take a “powerful step” and visit Kyiv on May 9, the date when Russia commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II.

Speaking via a translator to Britain’s Chatham House think-tank, Zelenskyy offered the invitation to Scholz after the two countries’ relations were strained when the German president was stopped from visiting Kyiv last month.

“He’s invited, the invitation is open, it has been for some time now,” Zelenskyy said on a video call.

“He’s invited to come to Ukraine, he can make this very powerful political step to come here on the 9th of May, to Kyiv. I am not explaining the significance, I think you’re cultured enough to understand why.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
The May 9 Victory Day is one of Russia’s most important national events – a remembrance of the Soviet sacrifice made in defeating Nazi Germany in what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP]

Ukraine destroys Russian warship in the Black Sea: Report

A Russian frigate is burning off the coast of the Odesa region following a Ukrainian attack, a Ukrainian YouTube channel claimed on Friday.

The Burevestnik warship, known by the NATO reporting name Krivak, was hit by a Ukrainian Neptune torpedo near the Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island), the Odesa & Transport channel claimed.

It said Russian warplanes are circling above the ship, and that Russian vessels from occupied Crimea are moving towards it to rescue the crew.

The island is known for an incident wherein a team of Ukrainian sailors stationed there said the now-famous phrase: “Russian warship, go f*** yourself!” after Russians urged them to surrender on February 24, the day Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia says Poland might be a ‘source of threat’

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has slammed Poland for what he called its hostile rhetoric, saying that Warsaw could be “a source of threat”.

Poland has urged the European Union to tighten sanctions on Moscow and called for NATO to arm Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces that have poured into its eastern parts.

Polish environment and climate minister, Anna Moskwa, said, “Poland is proud to be on Putin’s list of unfriendly countries.”

Podcast: Ukraine attracts fighters from the Middle East

The war in Ukraine has attracted thousands of foreign fighters battling on both sides from around the world, including the Middle East. Some call them mercenaries, while others call them volunteers. So why are they joining the fight?

Russia-Ukraine peace talks ‘stagnant’: Report

A Russian diplomat has reportedly claimed that peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv are “stagnant”, saying Ukraine is to blame.

“It is the statements of Ukrainian politicians that speak volumes about their unwillingness to continue” the talks, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev has been quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he “doesn’t believe” in the talks, because the negotiating teams only discuss the possibility of him meeting Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

However, the Financial Times has reported that Putin decided a peace settlement was “at a dead end” after Ukrainian forces sank the Moskva, Russia’s flagship missile cruiser in the Black Sea, on April 13.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia says it destroyed ammunition depot, shot down warplanes in Ukraine

Russia has said its missiles destroyed a large ammunition depot in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, according to its defence ministry.

Moscow also said its air defences shot down two Ukrainian warplanes, an Su-25 and a MiG-29, in the eastern Luhansk region.

Luhansk braces for more powerful Russian attacks

Russian forces will be intensifying their assault on the southeastern region of Luhansk, its governor said on Friday.

“We are getting ready for more powerful attacks in the nearest three or four days,” Serhiy Haidai said in televised remarks.

A Ukrainian soldier stands in front of a building after it was hit by shelling in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine,
A Ukrainian soldier stands in front of a building after it was hit by shelling in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, April 16, 2022 [File: Marko Djurica/Reuters]

He added that Russians will “focus their efforts” to take the strategic towns of Severodonetsk and Popasna in order to encircle Ukrainian forces in the region that has been partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

He said Popasna “is razed to the ground” after weeks of indiscriminate Russian bombardment that destroyed most apartment buildings and houses.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russians impose taxes, tally land in occupied Zaporizhzhia: Officials

Russian authorities in occupied parts of the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia are forcing locals to reregister their businesses, pay taxes and report the land they farm, defence officials said.

Businessmen in the town of Enerhogar, where Europe’s largest nuclear power station is located, who refuse to reregister are not allowed to operate, the region’s Ukrainian defence administration said on Telegram.

In the town of Mykhailivka, businessmen are registered and taxed “according to occupiers’ rules”, while in the village of Chernihivka farmers have to report land they own and rent before they are allowed to till it, it said.

Moscow seized chunks of Zaporizhzhia as part of its push to occupy the Russian-speaking regions of eastern and southern Ukraine.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Ukraine army readying for more powerful battles in Luhansk: Governor

Ukraine’s forces in the Luhansk region are preparing for more powerful offensives from the Russians in the next three to four days, the region’s governor has said.

“They will put all their efforts into breaking through to Severodonetsk or Popasna,” Serhiy Haidai said on Ukrainian television.

Haidai added the city of Popasna was already destroyed. “Because it is bombed around the clock, shot from all types of weapons,” he said.

The United Kingdom’s Defence Ministry has warned Russia would try to capture Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk as this would consolidate Moscow’s military control in north-eastern Donbas.

Hungary cannot support new EU Russia sanctions in present form: PM

Hungary cannot support the EU’s new sanctions package against Russia in its present form, including an embargo on Russian crude oil imports, the prime minister has said.

Viktor Orban told state radio that the European Commission’s current proposal would amount to an “atomic bomb” dropped on the Hungarian economy, adding that Hungary was ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that would meet Hungarian interests.

New effort to evacuate Azovstal civilians ‘under way’: Ukraine

A senior Ukrainian official has said a new attempt is under way “at the moment” to evacuate civilians trapped with Ukrainian fighters in the Azovstal steelworks plant in the southern city of Mariupol.

Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential staff, gave no details and it was not immediately clear what stage the new rescue effort was at.

“The next stage of rescuing our people from Azovstal is under way at the moment. Information about the results will be provided later,” Yermak said on Friday.

Germany to send Ukraine seven self-propelled howitzers

Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, on top of five howitzers the Dutch already pledged, Germany’s defence minister has said.

The training of Ukrainian troops on the artillery weapons can start next week in Germany, Christine Lambrecht told reporters in the Slovak town Sliac where she was supposed to meet her Dutch counterpart later today.

Russian 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled howitzers roll toward Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia
Russian 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled howitzers roll towards Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, May 9, 2021 [File: AP Photo]

Ukraine says 223 children have died since start of invasion

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 223 children have died and 408 were injured, the office of the prosecutor general has reported.

Most children were affected in the Donetsk region (139), followed by Kyiv (116), Kharkiv (95), Chernihiv (68) and Kherson (46).

Shelling kills two in Luhansk: Governor

Two people have died as a result of shelling in Luhansk, the region’s governor has said.

“Sixteen times the enemy opened fire on residential areas and infrastructure. Twelve buildings, an electrical substation, a complex of commercial facilities were damaged,” Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram.

“Seven more houses were destroyed in Rubizhne, two in Novodruzhesk. There is destruction in Lysychansk, Orekhov, Gorny, Popasna,” he added.

Russia is stepping up Azovstal battle ‘likely’ for May 9 success story: UK

Russia’s renewed effort to secure the Azovstal steel plant is “likely linked” to Putin’s desire for a symbolic success in Ukraine, by Moscow’s May 9 Victory Day celebrations, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

The ministry’s latest intelligence briefing said Russian forces continued their ground assault on the steel plant for a second day “despite Russian statements claiming they would only seek to seal it off”.

It added that Ukrainian resistance in Azovstal had led to significant Russian losses, which will “continue to build and frustrate their operational plans in southern Donbas”.

Mariupol a ‘concentration camp’: Official

Occupying Russian forces in Mariupol have turned the city into a “concentration camp” with the use of filtration policy, the adviser to the city’s mayor has said.

“Even on the street you can’t be now if you don’t have two papers at once: one is about passing the filtration, the other is a general permission to be on the street,” Petro Andryushchenko told a Ukrainian radio station.

He said that more than two thousand men were taken to Russia’s regional area of Bezymyannoye, “to the so-called filtration camp”, and have been held there for weeks.

Russian forces readying Kherson for May 9 celebrations: Official

The chairman of the Kherson Regional Council has said that the Russians occupying the area are making plans for May 9 celebrations.

They are making citizens “study slogans, songs, dances”, Oleksandr Samoylenko told Kyiv news agency Unian. “But today they even have to import actors from the Crimea or from other regions. Because Kherson actors do not agree to participate in these phantasmagories.”

Samoylenko also said that while the situation in the city of Kherson “remains more or less calm”, the same cannot be said for the rest of the region. “We even have completely blocked villages that are located on the line of demarcation of hostilities, and the inability to bring there even by volunteering some food, medicines, other things,” he said.

A man stands atop of a car with a Ukrainian flag during a rally against the Russian occupation in Svobody (Freedom) Square in Kherson.
A man stands on top of a car with a Ukrainian flag during a rally against the Russian occupation in Svobody (Freedom) Square in Kherson, Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2022 [File: Olexandr Chornyi/AP Photo]

No indications Belarus plans to get involved in Ukraine war: Pentagon

The Pentagon’s press secretary has said there are no indications that Belarus plans to get involved in the war in Ukraine.

Speaking on the drills being conducted by Belarusian armed forces, John Kirby told journalists, “I’ll let them speak to their exercises. But … we’re not tracking indications that they’re planning to or intend to get involved directly in the war in Ukraine.”

Kirby also confirmed the US is not seeing a change in the behaviour of Russian forces or “aggressive momentum” in the lead up to May 9. He added that “the Russians have not made the progress that we believe they expected to make by this point,” in the Donbas.

US denies helping Ukraine sink Russian warship

The Pentagon’s press secretary has dismissed an earlier NBC News report that US intelligence helped Ukraine sink Russia’s Moskva flagship.

”We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” several journalists on Twitter quoted John Kirby as having said.

“We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship. The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case,” Kirby reportedly added.

WHO to consider shutting Europe office in Moscow

World Health Organization states will consider a resolution against Russia next week, including the possible closure of a major regional office in Moscow, a document obtained by Reuters news agency shows.

The draft, prepared largely by EU diplomats and submitted to the WHO’s regional office for Europe this week, follows a request by Ukraine, signed by at least 38 other members including Turkey, France and Germany.

The text refers to a health emergency in Ukraine and is set to condemn Russia’s military actions which it said had resulted in mass casualties, disruptions to health services, increased risks of death from chronic diseases, increased risks of infectious diseases and of radiological and chemical events in Ukraine, the region and beyond.

The resolution, to be considered on Tuesday, calls for a possible suspension of all meetings in Russia, Reuters says.

Nuclear war ‘should never happen’: Moscow diplomat

Russia’s ambassador to the US has said that NATO is not taking the threat of nuclear war seriously enough and there would be “no winners” if it happened.

In an interview with Newsweek, Anatoly Antonov said that talk of Russia’s sabre-rattling and threat of using nuclear weapons was “a flurry of blatant misrepresentation of Russian officials’ statements on our country’s nuclear policy”.

“It is our country that in recent years has persistently proposed to American colleagues to affirm that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, thus it should never happen,” Antonov said.

He then underlined the “conditions under which the use of nuclear weapons is possible”. Russia’s doctrine states that nuclear weapons “can be used in response to the use of WMD against Russia and its allies, or in the event of aggression against our country, when the very existence of the state is jeopardised,”  Antonov told Newsweek.

Spain frees Ukrainian politician facing alleged treason

A court in Spain has ordered the provisional release of a Ukrainian politician and blogger who was arrested after being accused of treason in his home country.

Anatoly Shariy, the founder of a political party considered by many in Ukraine to be pro-Russian, has been a vocal critic of Ukraine’s government.

He was arrested on Wednesday under an international arrest warrant issued by Ukraine, whose security services said there was reason to believe Shariy “was acting on behalf of foreign entities”.

Citing the “circumstances of the case” and Shariy’s connections to Spain, the judge declined to keep him in custody but said he had to surrender his passport and report to authorities regularly. The measures would remain for 40 days to allow Ukraine to formally request Shariy’s extradition.

Russia’s war ‘designed to terrorise and kill’ Ukrainians: UK diplomat

Britain’s ambassador to the UN has told the Security Council that Russia is deliberately targeting civilians in clear violation of international humanitarian law.

“The truth is, that it’s not just that civilians are dying in Russia’s illegal war of aggression, but that Russia is deliberately waging a war designed to terrorise and kill Ukrainian people,” Barbara Woodward said.

She added that Russia’s propaganda campaign that accompanies this war is “designed to dehumanise and demonise Ukrainians by labelling them as neo-Nazis”.

“This hate speech is extremely dangerous. And, as we near the anniversary of the end of WWII, it disrespects the sacrifices of those Russians, Ukrainians and many other nationalities who fought to end Nazism,” Woodward said.

‘Just imagine this hell’, Zelenskyy says of Azovstal

Zelenskyy has said that Russian forces will not stop shelling the Azovstal steel plant but that civilians still need to be rescued.

“Many children are still there. Just imagine this hell!” he said in a video address.

He added that his team is doing everything to find a solution to save some of the 2,000 fighters believed to be in the plant.

“Heroes who defend Mariupol against the occupiers prevailing in the number of troops. There are different units there. They have many wounded. But they do not give up. They are holding positions,” Zelenskyy said.

Black smoke rises from the ruined buildings of the Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol
Smoke rises from the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal in Mariupol, in territory under the so-called government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 [Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]

‘They won’t surrender’: Wife of fighter in Azovstal

The wife of an Azov Regiment commander holed up at Mariupol’s sprawling Azovstal steelworks has said the fighters “will stand till the end”.

After speaking on the phone to her husband Denys Prokopenko, Kateryna Prokopenko told the Associated Press that “they only hope for a miracle” but “they won’t surrender”.

Some 2,000 fighters are believed to still be holed up in the plant, the last stronghold of resistance that many analysts say Russia wants to capture before its national May 9 Victory Day celebrations.

US intelligence helped Ukraine sink Moskva: NBC

US intelligence helped Ukraine sink the Russian warship Moskva, NBC News has reported, citing US officials.

The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet sank on April 14 after having been struck by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles, the US officials confirmed.

According to the officials, the attack happened after Ukrainian forces asked the Americans about a ship sailing in the Black Sea south of Odesa. The US identified it as the Moskva and helped confirm its location, after which the Ukrainians targeted the ship, the NBC report said.

The officials added that the US did not know in advance that Ukraine was going to target the Moskva.

Russia’s invasion devastated 400 medical sites: Zelenskyy

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has devastated 400 hospitals and other institutions and left doctors without drugs to tackle cancer or the ability to perform surgery, Zelenskyy has said.

In a video address to a medical charity group, he said in the areas occupied by Russian forces, the situation was catastrophic.

“This amounts to a complete lack of medication for cancer patients. It means extreme difficulties or a complete lack of insulin for diabetes. It is impossible to carry out surgery. It even means, quite simply, a lack of antibiotics.”

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol
Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. The woman and her baby later died [File: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo]

UN chief says 500 Mariupol civilians rescued

The UN chief says that 500 people have now been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol and surrounding areas.

Guterres said in a tweet that the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross operation involved two safe passage convoys.

Late on Thursday, Zelenskyy said in a video address that more than 150 people from Azovstal and more than 300 people from Mariupol and its suburbs had been evacuated this week. Evacuations are hoped to continue on Friday.

Most Russian forces left Mariupol: Pentagon

The Pentagon says the majority of Russian forces that had been around the port city of Mariupol have left and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups there, or about 2,000 troops.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that even as Russian air strikes continue to bombard Mariupol, Moscow’s forces are still making only “plodding” and incremental progress as the main fight presses on in the eastern Donbas region.

He said he has seen no change in Russian behaviour or momentum as May 9 draws near.

Zelenskyy decries ‘catastrophic’ lack of medical access

The Ukrainian president described a “catastrophic” lack of access to medical services and medicine in areas of the country under Russian occupation.

In those areas, he said almost no treatment was available for those suffering from cancer, while insulin for people with diabetes was difficult to find or non-existent. He said antibiotics were in short supply, as well.

Zelenskyy also said that during the course of the war, the Russian military has already fired 2,014 missiles on Ukraine, while 2,682 flights of Russian warplanes have been recorded in Ukrainian skies. He said destroyed or damaged infrastructure includes nearly 400 hospitals and other medical facilities.

White House welcomes Finland, Sweden discussions on NATO

The White House has welcomed deliberations by Finland and Sweden on potentially joining NATO, a development resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We obviously strongly support NATO’s open-door policy and the right of each country to decide its own future foreign policy and security arrangements,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

“And we are confident we’ll be able to work with them to address any concerns either country may have, but those are ongoing discussions.”

Zelenskyy says Mariupol evacuation continued on Thursday

The Ukrainian president has said the evacuation of civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol continued on Thursday but did not say how many people managed to leave.

In a video address, Zelenskyy also said Russian forces were still storming and shelling the city’s Azovstal plant, where civilians and military forces are sheltering.

UN reports 6,731 civilian casualties in Ukraine

The UN’s top human rights official has said the UN has recorded 6,731 civilian casualties in Ukraine since the war began. “It pains me to say that all our concerns remain valid and the situation keeps deteriorating,” Michelle Bachelet told the Security Council.

Bachelet said her office is documenting forced disappearances of representatives of local authorities, journalists and civil society activists. She said the office investigated 180 cases, with five of the individuals found dead.

“Grim evidence of torture, ill-treatment and summary executions of prisoners of war committed by both parties to the conflict is surfacing,” she said.

Cemetery in Ukraine
A cemetery for people killed during the Russian occupation of Irpin, near Kyiv, on May 5 [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Missile attack injures 25, inflicts damage in east Ukraine: Governor

A missile attack on the city of Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has injured 25 people and inflicted wide-ranging damage, the regional governor has said.

In a Telegram post, Pavlo Kyrylenko said 810 apartments in 32 high-rise buildings sustained damage as the result of an attack on Thursday. The post featured photos of multiple buildings reduced to rubble.

Kyrylenko added that six private houses, two schools, a kindergarten and a medical institution were also damaged.

Pentagon denies helping Ukraine ‘target’ Russian generals

The US defence department has denied that it provided intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield so that Ukraine forces could kill them.

Reacting to a New York Times report on US support for the Ukraine military, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said it was true that Washington supplies Kyiv’s forces with military intelligence “to help Ukrainians defend their country”.

“We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military,” Kirby said.

Ukrainian official says people will be evacuated from Mariupol on Friday

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said that people would be evacuated from the besieged port city of Mariupol on Friday at 12:00 local time (09:00 GMT).

Vereshchuk made the announcement in a social media post. She said people would gather at the “Port City” shopping centre but gave no further details.

Russia made failed attempts to advance in east, Ukraine says

The Ukrainian army has said Russian troops made “unsuccessful” attempts to advance in the eastern Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.

A Facebook post on the official profile of the Ukrainian General Staff said the Russians also continue to launch missile attacks on transport facilities in order to prevent the movement of humanitarian cargo and military-technical assistance.

Russia says it destroyed 45 Ukrainian military facilities

The Russian military has said its air force destroyed 45 Ukrainian military facilities in the latest series of attacks.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the targets hit included Ukrainian troops and weapons concentrations and an ammunition depot in the eastern Luhansk region.

He said the Russian artillery hit 152 Ukrainian troops’ strongholds and 38 artillery firing positions.

UN humanitarian chief hails ‘glimmer of hope’ in Mariupol evacuations

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, has hailed the recent evacuations of hundreds of civilians from a besieged steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol as a “glimmer of hope”, calling for more safe passages.

“We’re making some progress; we’re building relations and we’re building experience, which we hope we can then broaden to more such operations,” Griffiths told the Security Council.

UN chief urges reintegrating food from Russia and Ukraine into global market

Guterres has again called for an end to the war in Ukraine, warning of “limitless” global harm, including to international food supplies.

“The war in Ukraine is senseless in its scope, ruthless in its dimensions and limitless in its potential for global harm. The cycle of destruction, dislocation and disruption must stop. It is time to unite and end this war,” he told the Security Council.

“A meaningful solution to global food insecurity requires reintegrating Ukraine’s agricultural production and the food and fertiliser production of Russia and Belarus into world markets despite the war. I will do my best to help facilitate the dialogue to help make these reality,” Guterres said.

Scholz, Biden agree to not recognise Russian territorial gains

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and United States President Joe Biden have agreed in a call that they will not recognise any Russian territorial gains in Ukraine, a German government spokesperson has said.

“They agreed that Ukraine needed to be further substantially and continuously supported in the practice of its legitimate right to self defence,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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

Read all the updates from Thursday, May 5 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies