Russia-Ukraine crisis updates | May 2, 2022

Destroyed houses are photographed in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine on April 30, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

Around 100 civilians evacuated from the ruined Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol were due to arrive in a Ukrainian-held city on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, after U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Russia’s military has turned its focus to Ukraine’s south and east after failing to capture Kyiv in the early weeks of a war that has flattened cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 5 million to flee the country.

The EU will propose a phased-out ban on Russian oil imports as part of its fresh round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, sources told Reuters.

The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.

Here are the latest updates:

Berlin

Jaishankar meets German counterpart Baerbock to discuss Russia-Ukraine conflict, bilateral cooperation

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Monday and the two leaders reviewed the bilateral cooperation and discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Indo-Pacific.

Jaishankar, who is here as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s delegation, said that he had a “good conversation” with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Baerbock.

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Russia

Russia says its military shot down Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet

Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday that the Russian military had shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet near Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine.

It said in a briefing it had hit 38 military targets in Ukraine, including ammunition depots and control centres.- Reuters

Mariupol, Ukraine

Russia resumed shelling of steel works after evacuation buses left - mayor’s aide

Russia resumed shelling of the Azovstal steel works in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Sunday as soon as buses evacuating civilians from the plant had left, an aide to the city’s mayor said on Monday.

Mariupol, which has seen the heaviest fighting of the war in Ukraine so far, is now largely in Russian hands but an unknown number of civilians and fighters remain trapped at Azovstal, whose network of bunkers and tunnels has provided shelter from weeks of Russian bombardment.

“Yesterday, as soon as the buses left Azovstal with the evacuees, new shelling began immediately,” said Petro Andryushchenko, the mayor’s aide, told Ukrainian television.- Reuters

UNHCR

More than 5.5 million people have fled Ukraine, says UNHCR

More than 5.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on Monday.

The statistics are compiled from a variety of sources, mainly data provided by authorities from official border crossing points, the UNHCR said.- Reuters

Ukraine

Ukraine formally closes seaports captured by Russia

Ukraine has formally closed its four Black and Azov sea ports, which Russian forces have captured, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said on Monday.

The Azov Sea ports of Mariupol, Berdiansk and Skadovsk and the Black Sea port of Kherson were closed “until the restoration of control”, the ministry said in a statement.

“The adoption of this measure is caused by the impossibility of servicing ships and passengers, carrying out cargo, transport and other related economic activities, ensuring the appropriate level of safety of navigation,” it said.

All Ukrainian seaports have suspended their activity as a result of the Russian invasion in late February. Russian forces captured some ports and blockaded others.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain due to Russia’s control of Black Sea shipping, triggering a food crisis that will affect Europe, Asia and Africa.- Reuters

Ukraine

Ukraine says it destroyed two Russian patrol boats on Monday

A Ukrainian Bayraktar drone destroyed two Russian Raptor-class patrol ships in the Black Sea on Monday, Ukraine’s military chief said.

“Two Russian Raptor-class boats were destroyed at dawn today near Zmiinyi (Snake) Island,” Chief of General Staff Valeriy Zaluzhniy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow to the claim.- Reuters

Ukraine

Ukraine may lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain - Zelensky

Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain due to Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea ports, triggering a food crisis that will affect Europe, Asia and Africa, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday.

“Russia does not let ships come in or go out, it is controlling the Black Sea,” Zelenskiy told the Australian news programme 60 Minutes. “Russia wants to completely block our country’s economy.”

Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and other food products and also of metals.- Reuters

U.S.A.

Jill Biden to meet with Ukrainian refugees during visit to Romania and Slovakia

First lady Jill Biden will visit Romania and Slovakia from May 5-9 to meet with U.S. service members and embassy personnel, displaced Ukrainian parents and children, humanitarian aid workers, and teachers, her office said on Monday

On Sunday, celebrated as Mother’s Day in the United States, Biden will meet with Ukrainian mothers and children who have been forced to flee their homes because of Russia’s war against Ukraine, her office said.

The wife of President Joe Biden will meet with U.S. military service members at Mihail Kogalniceau Airbase in Romania on May 6, before heading to Bucharest to meet with Romanian government officials, U.S. embassy staff, humanitarian aid workers, and teachers working with displaced Ukrainian children.

The trip also includes stops in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava, Kosice and Vysne Nemecke, where Biden will meet with government officials, refugees and aid workers, her office said.- Reuters

Russia

Russia not seeking to end Ukraine war by May 9: Russian Foreign Minister

Russia is not looking to end its war in Ukraine by Victory Day on May 9, its foreign minister said, as the country looks set to mark the key anniversary under the cloud of a deadly conflict.

Speaking with Italian outlet Mediaset, Sergei Lavrov insisted Moscow would not rush to wrap up its so-called “special military operation” in time for the anniversary, which celebrates Nazi Germany’s surrender to allied forces—including the then Soviet Union—in 1945.

“Our military will not artificially adjust their actions to any date, including Victory Day,” Mr. Lavrov said in the interview released Sunday.

“The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends, first of all, on the need to minimise any risks for the civilian population and Russian military personnel,” he added.

Russia typically marks Victory Day in grand style, with a large military parade in central Moscow and a speech by President Vladimir Putin hailing the country’s leading role in the defeat of fascism in Europe.- AFP

Ukraine

Ukraine admits ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ fighter pilot is a myth

On social media, the “Ghost of Kyiv” was a military hero, an ace fighter pilot hailed for supposedly shooting down multiple Russian planes. The tales began just days into the war and circulated for months, bolstered by official Ukrainian accounts.

But on Saturday, Ukrainian authorities admitted that the legendary pilot was a myth.

“The Ghost of Kyiv is a super-hero legend whose character was created by Ukrainians!” Ukraine’s air force said in Ukrainian on Facebook.

The statement came after multiple media outlets published stories wrongly identifying Major Stepan Tarabalka as the man behind the moniker. Tarabalka was a real pilot who died on March 13 during air combat and was posthumously awarded the title Hero of Ukraine, Ukraine’s air force said last month.

But he was not the Ghost of Kyiv, the force said in Saturday’s statement.

“The information about the death of the The Ghost of #Kyiv is incorrect,” Ukraine’s air force wrote in a separate post Saturday on Twitter. “The #GhostOfKyiv is alive, it embodies the collective spirit of the highly qualified pilots of the Tactical Aviation Brigade who are successfully defending #Kyiv and the region.”

The legend emerged just a day after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, as social media users began to spread claims, without evidence, of an anonymous fighter pilot who had single-handedly taken down multiple Russian planes.- AP

Mariupol

Commander glad for steel mill evacuations

Sviastoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, which is helping defend the last section of Mariupol not occupied by the Russians, said he was glad evacuations had begun.

Palamar hoped the evacuations from the Azovstal steel mill continue until everyone in the plant, civilians and soldiers, had gotten out. It’s been difficult even to reach some of the wounded inside the plant, he told The Associated Press in an interview from Mariupol on Sunday.

“There’s rubble. We have no special equipment. It`s hard for soldiers to pick up slabs weighing tons only with their arms,” he said.

The Azovstal plant is strewn with mines, rockets, artillery shells and unexploded cluster ordnance, he said.- AP

Russia

Explosions in Russian region bordering Ukraine, no casualties

Two explosions took place in the early hours on Monday in Belgorod, the southern Russian region bordering Ukraine, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the region’s governor wrote in a social media post.

“There were no casualties or damage,” Gladkov wrote.- Reuters

Kursk

Explosion damages railway bridge in Kursk

An explosive device damaged a railway bridge Sunday in the Kursk region of Russia, which borders Ukraine, and a criminal investigation has been started. The region’s government reported the blast in a post on Telegram.

Recent weeks have seen a number of fires and explosions in Russian regions near the border, including Kursk. An ammunition depot in the Belgorod region burned after explosions were heard, and authorities in the Voronezh region said an air defense system shot down a drone. An oil storage facility in Bryansk was engulfed by fire a week ago.- AP

Donetsk

4 civilians dead in Donetsk region

Four civilians were reported killed and 11 more were injured by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on Sunday, the Ukrainian regional governor said that evening.

The deaths and seven of the injuries were in the northern city of Lyman, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Telegram post. One person also died in the city of Bakhmut from injuries received in the Luhansk region, he said.

In the same post, Kyrylenko said that it was impossible to determine the number of victims in the bombed-out port city of Mariupol and the town of Volnovakha, which is controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists.- AP

Mariupol

Russia resumes shelling of steel plant in Mariupol after civilian evacuations: Ukrainian official

Russian forces resumed shelling of a steel plant in the war-torn city of Mariupol immediately after the partial evacuation of civilians, a Ukrainian military officer has said.

Ukrainian National Guard brigade commander Denys Shlega said on Sunday in a televised interview that at least one more round of evacuations is needed to clear civilians from the Azovstal steel mill and dozens of small children are inside bunkers below the industrial facilities.

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Mariupol

Dozens leave Mariupol plant as Pelosi slams Russian 'bullies'

Dozens of civilians have left a besieged steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russia said on Sunday, as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to support Ukraine against Russian "bullies" after visiting Kyiv.

Russia's Defence Ministry said a total of 46 civilians had left in two groups on Saturday from the area around the Azovstal plant — the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in the city.

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India

India calls for cessation of hostilities, resolution via dialogue ahead of PM Modi’s Europe visit

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a tour of three European nations, India on May 1 once again called for the cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy, noting that was an appreciation of its position on the crisis by its partner countries.

At a media briefing, newly appointed Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra underlined the "context, clarity, importance and positive dimension" of India's position on Ukraine and asserted that there should not be any doubt about it.

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Ukraine

U.S. House Speaker Pelosi visits Kyiv, meets with Ukraine President

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has led a congressional delegation to Kyiv to meet with Ukraine's president before heading to Poland for talks with officials there on Sunday.

Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat who is second in line to the presidency after the Vice President, is the most senior American lawmaker to visit Ukraine since Russia's war began more than two months ago.

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Printable version | May 3, 2022 9:03:22 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/ukraine-russia-crisis-live-updates-may-2-2022/article65374845.ece