Ukraine latest updates: UN chief ‘appalled’ by school attack

Ukraine news from May 8: President Zelenskyy said a Russian bomb killed some 60 people who were hiding in a school.

Debris is seen next to a partially collapsed building is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine
Debris is seen next to a partially collapsed building is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine [State Emergency Services via Reuters]
  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is “appalled” by the bombing of a school in eastern Ukraine that left about 60 people dead and called for civilians to be spared, his spokesperson has said.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “evil has returned” to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in an emotional address on World War II’s Victory Day.
  • More than 170 civilians have reached the city of Zaporizhzhia after being evacuated from Mariupol and from the Azovstal steel plant where fighters have vowed to continue to battle until the end.
  • The United States has imposed new sanctions on Russia, including against three Russian television stations.
  • G7 leaders held a virtual meeting where they have pledged to reinforce Moscow’s economic isolation and to phase out the group’s dependence on Russian energy.
  • US first lady Jill Biden has paid a surprise visit to her Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenska to mark Mother’s Day. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made an unexpected trip to Ukraine where he held a meeting with Zelenskyy.
  • The United Kingdom says it will provide Ukraine with an additional 1.3 billion British pounds ($1.6bn) in military aid.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 73

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These were the updates on Sunday, May 8:

Russia has ‘forgotten’ all that mattered to WWII victors: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia has forgotten everything that mattered to the victors of World War II.

Denouncing Russia’s heavy shelling in the east of the country, including a strike on a school that he says killed 60 people, Zelenskyy said that while Moscow prepares to commemorate the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russian troops are attacking civilians in Ukraine.

“Russia has forgotten everything that was important to the victors of World War II,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

“Civilians who simply hid in the school from the shelling. It was a targeted blow to the school. Another crime of the occupiers,” he said.

On Monday, Russians will mark the 77th anniversary of victory in what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War.

Thousands of soldiers will march across the Red Square in Moscow followed by tanks, armoured vehicles and missile launchers.

Russian soldiers march during a dress rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on Saturday, May 7, 2022 [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP]
Russian soldiers march on Saturday during a dress rehearsal for Monday’s Victory Day military parade in Moscow [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP]

UK places fresh sanctions on Russia, Belarus

The UK is placing fresh sanctions on Russia and Belarus, including import tariffs on precious metals and export bans.

The import tariffs, including on platinum and palladium, will target trade worth 1.7 billion pounds ($2.10bn) while export bans worth 250 million pounds ($310m) will target Russia’s manufacturing and heavy industry, the UK’s Department for International Trade said.

“This far-reaching package of sanctions will inflict further damage on the Russian war machine,” Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.

The UK has slapped a range of sanctions on Russian companies and individuals since Russia invaded Ukraine with Belarusian help in February.

The UK’s new sanctions bring the total value of products subjected to full or partial import and export sanctions to more than 4 billion pounds ($4.9bn).

Bulgaria says will veto EU oil sanctions on Russia if it does not get derogation

Bulgaria will not support the European Union’s new set of sanctions against Russia if the Balkan country does not get a derogation from the proposed ban on buying Russian oil, Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev has said.

EU governments moved closer on Sunday to agreeing to tough sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but scheduled more talks for Monday to work out how to ensure countries most dependent on Russian energy can cope.

“The talks will continue tomorrow, on Tuesday too, a meeting of the leaders may be needed to conclude them. Our position is very clear. If there be a derogation for some of the countries, we want to get a derogation too,” Vassilev told national BNT television.

“If not, we will not support the sanctions. But I do not expect to get to that, based on the talks at the moment,” he said.

Russian strike at school in Ukraine’s east kills about 60: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy said that about 60 people who were sheltering at a school in the eastern village of Bilohorivka were killed in a Russian bombing.

“As a result of a Russian strike on Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region, about 60 people were killed, civilians, who simply hid at the school, sheltering from shelling,” the Ukrainian leader said in his nightly video address.

Earlier, the governor of the Luhansk region, said that about 90 people were sheltering at the school and that about 60 people were feared dead.

Debris is seen next to a partially collapsed building is seen, after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine
Debris is seen next to a partially collapsed building after a school building was hit in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk, Ukraine [State Emergency Services/Handout via Reuters]

Some 170 evacuated from Mariupol reach Ukraine-controlled territory: council

At least 173 people evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant and Mariupol city arrived in Ukrainian-held territory, the city council has said on its Telegram channel. The local authority added that three soldiers were killed, six others were injured, during the operation.

Osnat Lubrani, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said eight buses had arrived in the city of Zaporizhzhia, adding that about 40 of the more than 170 evacuees on board had been rescued from the steel plant.

The latest move brought to more than 600 the number of people rescued from the area in the past 10 days, Lubrani said.

G7 shows united front in supporting Ukraine

“The world must go further and faster to support Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said after the G7 virtual meeting which included the Ukrainian president.

“Ukraine needed to receive military equipment that allowed them to not just hold ground in Ukraine, but recapture it,” Johnson told G7 leaders, according to his office.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the sanctions taken by the seven leaders against Russia are “unprecedented”.

“They will get stronger,” Macron said on Twitter. “We pledge today to phase out our dependence on Russian energy,” he added.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi reiterated the need to push forward with sanctions against Moscow, while stressing the necessity to give fresh impetus to the peace negotiations. Draghi also said that the G7 must help those countries at risk of food insecurity.

Canada’s Trudeau announces new weapons for Ukraine

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new weapons and equipment for Ukraine after an unannounced visit to Kyiv.

Trudeau, addressing a news conference after talks with Zelenskyy, also said Canada was imposing new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities in connection with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Canada, he said, was reopening its embassy in Kyiv.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attend a news conference, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv,
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attend a news conference, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

US imposes visa restrictions on Russian military officers, targets maritime sector

The US Department of State announced a raft of visa bans and a new policy of visa restrictions on more than 2,500 Russian military officials and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine, according to a department fact sheet.

It also said it designated eight Russian maritime-related companies and added 69 vessels to a US Treasury Department sanctions list.

Russia says it hit US-supplied weapons in Ukraine

Russia says it has destroyed weapons and military equipment provided to Ukraine by the US and other unspecified Western countries.

Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s defence ministry spokesperson, said “high-precision air-launched missiles of the Russian Aerospace Forces” struck the targets near the settlement of Soledar, TASS news agency reported.

G7 leaders pledge further economic isolation of Russia

The Group of Seven (G7) leaders said in a joint statement that they will reinforce Russia’s economic isolation and “elevate” a campaign against Russian elites who support President Vladimir Putin.

After meeting virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the leaders said they would cut off key services on which Russia depends, reinforcing the isolation of Russia “across all sectors of its economy”.

They also committed to phasing out dependency on Russian energy, including by banning imports of Russian oil. “(W)e will continue and elevate our campaign against the financial elites and family members, who support President Putin in his war effort and squander the resources of the Russian people,” the statement added.

A general view of the video screen of G7 leaders during a video-conference on Ukraine at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France
A general view of the video screen of G7 leaders during a video conference on Ukraine at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France [Thibault Camus/Reuters]

Russian shells hit Lysychansk oil refinery, damage production areas: Local authority

Russian shells struck the oil refinery at Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, damaging production facilities, the governor of Luhansk region said.

Serhiy Haidai, writing on his Telegram channel, said the strike was one of a recent series of attacks and had damaged facilities, including areas where crude oil is received and mixed with other elements of the refining process. Haidai said persistent artillery fire was preventing firefighting teams from working.

US imposes new sanctions on Russia

The US has unveiled sanctions against three Russian television stations, banned Americans from providing accounting and consulting services to Russians, and sanctioned executives from Gazprombank to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The move comes as US President Joe Biden met virtually with leaders of the G7 nations and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.

“This is not a full block. We’re not freezing the assets of Gazprombank or prohibiting any transactions with Gazprombank,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters. “What we’re signalling is that Gazprombank is not a safe haven, and so we’re sanctioning some of their top business executives … to create a chilling effect.”

Eight executives from Sberbank, which holds one-third of Russia’s banking assets, were added to the sanctions list. Moscow Industrial Bank and its 10 subsidiaries were also added.

US top diplomat returns to Kyiv embassy

American top diplomat to Ukraine Kristina Kvien and her team have arrived in Kyiv, a senior US Department of State official has said, in the latest step towards the resumption of a full US presence in the Ukrainian capital.

Videos posted on social media showed a motorcade rolling into the embassy compound.

The team’s visit was timed to commemorate World War II’s Victory in Europe Day, the official said. Russia celebrates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany on its Victory Day on Monday.

EU edges towards oil sanctions on Russia, no deal yet

European Union governments moved closer to agreeing on tough sanctions against Russia that include a ban on buying Russian oil, but scheduled more talks for Monday to work out how to ensure countries most dependent on Russian energy can cope.

Diplomats of the 27 EU countries have been meeting daily to discuss details of the sixth sanctions package targeting Moscow since the European Commission announced proposals for it on May 4.

“The Council (of EU governments) is united on the need to adopt a 6th sanctions package,” the French presidency of the EU and the Commission said in a statement. “Very significant progress has been made on most of the measures.”

The sticking point is how to secure oil supplies to landlocked Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which all depend heavily on Russian crude delivered via Soviet-era pipelines and face a challenge to secure alternative sources.

Zelenskyy, German parliament chief discuss arms, EU membership

In a video of a meeting with the German parliament’s President Baerbel Bas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that securing the Bundestag’s approval of heavy arms deliveries to help Ukraine fend off Russian attacks was one his country’s “top priorities.”

He also asked Bas and the Bundestag or parliament to support Ukraine in its bid for European Union membership, which Kyiv’s allies have said they want soon. However, candidature would have to be agreed upon unanimously, and accession usually takes years of complex negotiations.

Pelosi urges US Congress to approve $33bn in aid by end of May

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday told CBS news that Congress needs to pass by the end of the month a bill that would give Ukraine $33bn in military and humanitarian aid.

U2’s Bono gives performance in Kyiv metro

Irish rock group U2’s frontman Bono and his bandmate the Edge performed a 40-minute concert in a metro station in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

U2 rock band frontman Bono sings during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine
U2 rock band frontman Bono sings during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

“Your president leads the world in the cause of freedom right now … The people of Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom, you’re fighting for all of us who love freedom,” Bono told a crowd of up to 100 gathered inside the Khreshchatyk metro station.

U2 rock band frontman Bono sings during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022
Bono performed a 40-minute concert in Kyiv’s Khreshchatyk metro station [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Ukrainian, US diplomats discuss food security

Ukrainian top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba has discussed with his US counterpart Antony Blinken “ways to unblock Ukraine’s food exports and ensure global food security”, he said on Twitter.

Kuleba also said that “stiff US sanctions are coming” on Russia.

Ukraine, one of the world’s major grain and oilseeds producers, used to export most of its cereals through its Black Sea ports, which have been blocked by Russia since war began.

Canada PM visits Irpin

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has visited Irpin, a key suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that had been temporarily occupied by Russian forces, its mayor has said.

“He saw the burned and completely destroyed not military facilities, but the homes of Irpin residents, who until recently enjoyed life and had their own plans for the future,” Alexander Markushin said on social media alongside pictures showing him and the Canadian minister walking in the city.

“We are here to show our support for Ukraine and its people,” Trudeau said later on Twitter.

Russian deputy PM visits Mariupol

Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Marat Khusnullin says he has visited, among others, the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Khusnullin is Russia’s most senior official to step foot in Ukraine since the war began.

“In the regions, the restoration of peaceful life begins. A lot of work to be done. We will help, in particular, it is necessary to carry out large-scale work in terms of providing humanitarian assistance!” he said on its Telegram channel.

Following relentless bombardment for nearly two months, Russia claimed victory over the port city on April 21. However, some Ukrainian fighters are still holed up in the city’s vast Soviet-era Azovstal steelworks – the last holdout against Russian forces there.

Jill Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine

The US first lady Jill Biden has held a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska, in an unexpected visit to Ukraine.

“On this Mother’s Day, my heart is with you, First Lady Olena Zelenska, and all of the brave and resilient mothers of Ukraine,” Biden said on Twitter.

Biden travelled under the cloak of secrecy, becoming the latest high-profile American to enter the war-torn country. Her visit follows recent stops in Kyiv by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress, as well as a joint trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet with President Zelenskyy.

The first lady traveled by vehicle to the town of Uzhhorod from a Slovakian village that borders Ukraine.

Leaders of G7 to meet virtually on Ukraine

President Zelenskyy is set to hold talks with G7 leaders via video conference to discuss the situation in his country.

More sanctions, or at least a tightening of current ones imposed on Russia, are expected to be discussed.

Fighters at Azovstal plant pledge to fight till the end: Azov regiment

Armed fighters at the besieged Azovstal steel plant have pledged to continue fighting “for as long as we are alive”.

“We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s far-right Azov Regiment, told an online conference.

“We don’t have much time, we are coming under intense shelling,” he added.

Air raids in Odessa ongoing: Analyst

Since midnight Ukraine time, at least seven air raids have taken place on Odesa, Hanna Shelest, programme director at think-tank Ukraine Prism, has told Al Jazeera.

“Yesterday we had very heavy attacks, targeting the airport again and civilian buildings as well like the trade centre in the town,” she said via Skype from Odesa.

“Russians have intensified [attacks] significantly over the last few days. We’ve never had this many air raids as in the last 48 hours.”

Firefighters work next to a site of a Russian missile attack in southern Ukrainian city of Odesa
Firefighters work next to a site of a Russian missile attack in southern Ukrainian city of Odesa on May 7, 2022 [Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP]

‘Victory will be ours’: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged that “as in 1945, victory will be ours” as he congratulated former Soviet nations on Victory Day.

“Today, our soldiers, as their ancestors, are fighting side by side to liberate their native land from the Nazi filth with the confidence that, as in 1945, victory will be ours,” Putin said.

“Today, it is our common duty to prevent the rebirth of Nazism which caused so much suffering to the peoples of different countries,” said Putin. He added he hoped “new generations may be worthy of the memory of their fathers and grandfathers”.

EU negotiations ongoing over Russia oil embargo

European diplomats continue to negotiate on the terms of the EU’s sixth round of sanctions against Russia, with several members seeking guarantees for their oil supplies.

The package suggested last week by the European Commission would have seen most EU members halting oil imports from Russia by the end of the year, to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.

But several member states, most vocally Hungary, demanded exemptions from the ban and/or support to help them escape their long-standing dependence on a single pipeline for Russian crude.

“There is no political blockage, but the need to guarantee alternative sources of supply to landlocked countries dependent on Russian oil by pipeline. And it is not easy,” a European diplomat told AFP news agency.

Oil pumping jacks
Oil pumping jacks operate in an oilfield near Neftekamsk, in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia [File: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg]

Putin will keep all options on table: Analyst

Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies believes Russia will keep all options on the table to achieve its military objectives in Ukraine, including nuclear weapons.

“[Vladimir] Putin really does not want to lose. But he’s not going to win for sure. Ukraine is just fighting back so fiercely, and with more and more support from the West,” he told Al Jazeera from Washington DC.

“I don’t think Putin is going to win – but what does it mean that he can’t lose? Does he have to redefine his objectives? And if he is doubling down now, and still loses, what happens then? Will he quadruple down and then use nuclear weapons? I’m quite worried about that.”

Croatia leader visits Ukraine

Croatia’s prime minister has visited Ukraine following reports that a Croatian citizen fighting in Mariupol was captured by Russian forces.

The Croatian government said in a statement that the visit by Andrej Plenkovic presented “an expression of solidarity and support” with the Ukrainian leadership and the people.

“Croatia knows what it is like to be under a military aggression and it continues to offer political, diplomatic, financial, humanitarian, technical and any other possible assistance to Ukraine,” the government noted.

Russia continues to bomb northeast region: Ukraine army

The Ukrainian military says Russia continued bombing towns and villages in the country’s northeast as it tries to gain territory along the front line.

Pavlo Kovalchuk, spokesman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has said Russia shelled Prudyanka, Slatine and Tsyrkuny near Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports.

Evil has returned to Ukraine: President Zelenskyy

Ukrainian leader Zelenskyy claims evil has returned to Ukraine during an address for Victory Day, a day commemorating the formal surrender of Germany to the Allies in World War II.

“The evil has returned. Again!” Zelenskyy said. “In a different form, under different slogans, but for the same purpose.

“No evil can escape responsibility, it cannot hide in a bunker,” he added.

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler spent the last days of his life in a bunker in Berlin where he committed suicide in the final days of the war.

President of Germany’s parliament arrives in Kyiv

Barbel Bas has arrived in Kyiv on to commemorate victims of World War II and to hold talks with Ukrainian officials.

Enrico Brissa, Bundestag’s chief of protocol, posted on Twitter pictures of Barbel arriving on a train and her meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Ukrainian warship, two planes hit: Russia

The Russian defence ministry claims it has destroyed a Ukrainian corvette warship near Odesa by a missile strike overnight.

The ministry also said its air defences had shot down two Ukrainian SU-24 bombers and a helicopter over the Snake Island in the Black Sea.

It said a total of four Ukrainian warplanes, four helicopters and an assault boat had been destroyed over the past 24 hours.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the ministry’s claims.

US First Lady Jill Biden arrives in Kosice

United States First Lady Jill Biden has arrived at Slovakia’s Kosice airport after spending Saturday in the country’s capital Bratislava.

Biden is on the third leg of a four-day trip to Romania and Slovakia, which shares a border with Ukraine, that is designed to showcase US support for refugees.

Biden was scheduled to spend Sunday meeting with those who have fled Ukraine and visiting a border village.

US First Lady Jill Biden places flowers at a memorial dedicated to the 26-year-old investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, assassinated in their home in 2018
US First Lady Jill Biden in Bratislava, Slovakia [Susan Walsh/Pool via Reuters]

Russia’s Gazprom continues gas exports to Europe via Ukraine

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

Requests stood at 92.1 million cubic metres (mcm) for May 8 compared to 92.4 mcm on May 7.

All civilians evacuate Mariupol’s Azovstal

The last of the Ukrainian civilians trapped in a steel plant in the port city of Mariupol have now been evacuated, according to officials.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said that “all women, children and the elderly” have been brought out from underground bunkers in the vast steel mill, where they had hidden from Russian attacks with little food, water or medicine.

Read more here.

People who were evacuated from Mariupol in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict, stand outside a bus near a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk region
People evacuated from Mariupol stand by a bus near a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk, May 7, 2022 [Alexander Ermochenko/ Reuters]

Dozens feared dead in school attack: Governor

The governor of Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai has said dozens of people stuck under the rubble after the school bombing in Belogorovka were likely dead.

“Probably all 60 people who are still under the rubble of the building are dead,” he posted on his Telegram account.

Emergency services were able to rescue 30 people, seven of whom were injured, the governor added.

Al Jazeera could not verify the governor’s claims independently.

Read more here.

Bomb attack on Luhansk school, two reported dead

The bodies of two people have been pulled out of the rubble of a school building in the town of Belogorovka in the Luhansk region, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.

Authorities there said some 90 people had been sheltering in the school when the Russians dropped a bomb on Saturday.

Al Jazeera could not verify the reports independently.

What is the cost of the energy war between Russia and Europe?

Russian President Vladimir Putin is making good on his threat to turn off the natural gas supply to Europe.

Supplies to Bulgaria and Poland have been halted after the two countries refused to pay for gas in roubles. Other European countries may also be cut off within weeks if they reject Russia’s demand.

The European Union, however, has dismissed the move as “blackmail” and is under pressure to cut the cord on Russian energy. The bloc has proposed a complete ban on Russian oil imports by the end of this year.

What is the cost of this energy war?

Watch the latest episode of Counting the Cost to find out.

Chechen leader says his soldiers control Ukraine’s Popasna

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, says his soldiers have taken control of most of the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna, in the Luhansk region.

Kadyrov, who has often described himself as Putin’s “foot soldier”, made his announcement on the Telegram messaging app.

There was no immediate response from Ukraine but Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskyy, said late on Saturday that heavy fighting for the town continues.

“Russian propagandists have joyfully reported that they have already taken it, but this is not quite how it is. This is their 117th ‘capture of Popasna’ claim only this week,” he said in a video on social media.

G7 leaders to hold virtual talks with Zelenskyy

The leaders of the G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States – are due to hold a virtual meeting with Zelenskyy.

The meeting will take place on Sunday afternoon, or morning in US time, according to the White House.

The talks, which will focus on the latest developments in the Ukraine war as well as sanctions against Russia, come a day before Moscow marks its Victory holiday.

UK to provide 1.3 billion pounds of additional military aid to Ukraine

The UK says it will provide 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6bn) in military support and aid to Ukraine.

The new pledge almost doubles the UK’s previous spending commitments on Ukraine and the government said this is the highest rate of spending on a conflict since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although it did not give details.

“Putin’s brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine, it is also threatening peace and security across Europe,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Kharkiv museum workers lament destruction of famed collection

A small provincial museum dedicated to the life and works of Ukrainian philosopher Hryhoriy Skovoroda has been destroyed in a Russian missile attack in the Kharkiv region, according to workers there.

“May 6 was a terrible night. At 10:50 pm, I got a call and was told that the museum was on fire … a bomb hit the museum,” said Natalia Mitsai, director of the museum. “The museum is essentially destroyed.”

But by some miracle that Skovoroda himself would appreciate, a gypsum statue of him survived the shelling and subsequent fire in one piece, just slightly tarnished.

Germany to help restore water supply, rebuild houses in Ukraine

Germany has announced an aid package of 63 million euros ($66m) to help rebuild conflict-torn areas in Ukraine.

“We have boosted the immediate aid programme for Ukraine from 122 million to 185 million euros,” said German Development Minister Svenja Schulze. “[T]o restore the drinking water supply and rebuild destroyed apartments, schools and kindergartens.”

She added, “Where the bombs have stopped falling, Germany will assist with billions for rebuilding.”

‘Hellish reality show’: Trapped Mariupol fighter pleads for help

The commander of a group of soldiers still trapped in Azovstal has called for help after the last civilians were evacuated from Azovstal.

“It feels like I’ve landed in a hellish reality show in which us soldiers fight for our lives and the whole world watches this interesting episode,” Serhiy Volinski, commander of the 36th marine infantry brigade said.

“Pain, suffering, hunger, misery, tears, fears, death. It’s all real,” he added, posting a picture of himself in which he is unshaven, bleary-eyed and seems to have an injured nose. He added that his troops could only hope for a miracle now.

Zelenskyy vows to rescue fighters trapped in Azovstal

Zelenskyy has pledged to continue the “extremely difficult but essential” efforts to evacuate all those remaining in Azovstal.

“I want to thank the teams of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations for helping us carry out the first phase,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address.

“We managed to save more than 300 people, women and children … we took all civilians out of the Azovstal plant and are now preparing for the second stage of the evacuation mission to evacuate those who are wounded and medics.

An aerial view shows shelling in the Azovstal steel plant complex, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this screen grab taken from a handout video released on May 5, 2022.
An aerial view shows shelling in the Azovstal steel plant complex in this screen grab taken from a handout video released on May 5, 2022 [Azov Regiment/Handout via Reuters]

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Saturday, May 7 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies