Russia-Ukraine crisis updates | May 3, 2022

Local residents sit in the yard of their damaged building in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine on April 29, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

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

Authorities say a Russian missile attack struck the Black Sea port of Odesa on Monday evening.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to address Ukraine’s parliament, delivering a message that the fight against Russian invasion is Ukraine’s “finest hour.”

Mr. Johnson’s office says the U.K. leader will announce a new 300 million pound ($375 million) package of military aid to Ukraine when he speaks to the legislature by video link on Tuesday.

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:

Online media

Unregulated online media spreads disinformation and propaganda, has contributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

The organisation made the statement as it presented its findings in the 2022 edition of the annual World Press Freedom Index.

The disinformation and propaganda spread by unregulated online media have also increased political divisions and fanned international tensions, RSF said. — AFP


Vladimir Putin tells French President Emmanuel Macron that Russia is ready for talks with Ukraine

“Despite Kyiv’s inconsistency and its lack of readiness for serious work, the Russian side is still ready for dialogue,” Kremlin informed on Tuesday.

According to Russia, Mr. Macron was made aware of the course of Mr. Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. The two leaders also discussed global food security. - AP


UN: Civilians from Mariupol plant reach Ukrainian-held city

The first convoy of civilians to escape a decimated steel plant in Mariupol reached relative safety in a Ukrainian-controlled city on Tuesday.

The United Nations said 127 civilians evacuated from the plant and a nearby town arrived in Zaporizhzhia.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told reporters Tuesday that a few hundred civilians remain at the plant.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian defenders of the plant said Russian forces have started to storm the the last pocket of resistance.

The move comes almost two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military not to storm the plant, but rather block it off.

The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment that is holed up in the Azovstal steel plant confirmed that Russian forces have started to storm the plant on Tuesday.

Asked about reports in Ukrainian media that the plant was being stormed, Sviatoslav Palamar said: “It is true.” Earlier 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.” Denys Shlega, a commander of a brigade of Ukraine’s National Guard also at Azovstal, also said “the enemy is trying to storm the Azovstal plant with significant forces using armoured vehicles.” - AP

Narendra Modi in Europe

In Denmark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls for immediate ceasefire in Ukraine

Speaking to reporters after bilateral talks, Mr. Modi said he discussed the Ukraine crisis and appealed for an “immediate ceasefire” in Ukraine.

“We appealed for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and return to dialogue and diplomacy for resolving the crisis,” Mr. Modi said. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen hoped that India will influence Russia on Ukraine and asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop this war and end the killings”.

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Russian energy

Slovakia, Hungary refuse to back EU sanctions against Russian energy

A majority of Europe’s energy needs are met by Russia. The European Union (EU) has been finding ways to sustain Europe’s power needs without relying on Russia, ever since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Slovakia and Hungary have said that they are too reliant on Russia for energy supply and do not have immediate alternatives.

Slovakia receives Russian oil through the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline and is almost fully dependent on the supply. Hungary is also significantly reliant on Russia to meet its energy needs, although other major importers like Germany have said that it could cope if EU banned Russian oil. — AP


Russia says it hit logistics centre near Ukraine’s Odesa used to deliver foreign weaponry

Russian high-precision missiles have hit a logistics centre located at a military airfield near Ukraine’s Odesa which was used to deliver weaponry given to Kiev by the West, the Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday.

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

On Monday, evening governor of Odesa Maksym Marchenko said on Telegram that a rocket strike had hit the Black Sea port city on Monday evening, causing deaths and injuries.- Reuters

United Kingdom

U.K.: Russian military ‘significantly weaker’

The British military says it believes the Russian military is now “significantly weaker” after suffering losses in its war on Ukraine.

The British Defense Ministry made the comment Tuesday in its daily statement on Twitter regarding the war.

It said: “Russia’s military is now significantly weaker, both materially and conceptually, as a result of its invasion of Ukraine. Recovery from this will be exacerbated by sanctions. This will have a lasting impact on Russia’s ability to deploy conventional military force.”

The ministry added while Russia’s defense budget has doubled from 2005 to 2018, the modernization program it undertook “has not enabled Russia to dominate Ukraine.”

“Failures both in strategic planning and operational execution have left it unable to translate numerical strength into decisive advantage,” the ministry said.- AP


TASS: more than 1 million Ukrainians taken to Russia

More than 1 million people, including nearly 200,000 children, have been taken from Ukraine to Russia in the past two months, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Monday, according to the state-owned news agency TASS.

Defense Ministry official Mikhail Mizintsev said those included 11,550 people, including 1,847 children, in the previous 24 hours, “without the participation of the Ukrainian authorities.”

He said those civilians “were evacuated to the territory of the Russian Federation from the dangerous regions” of Donetsk, Lugansk and other parts of Ukraine, according to the report. No details were provided on the location or circumstances of the moves.- AP


Mariupol mayor says more than 200 civilians still in Ukrainian city’s vast steel plant

More than 200 civilians are still holed up with fighters in a huge steel plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, city mayor Vadym Boychenko said on Tuesday.

He said a total of about 100,000 civilians were still in the southern Ukrainian city that has been occupied by Russian forces.- Reuters

Vatican City

Pope says he wants to go to Moscow to meet Putin over Ukraine - paper

 Pope Francis said in an interview published on Tuesday that he asked for a meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to stop the war in Ukraine but had not received a reply.

The pope also told Italy’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper that Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has given the war his full-throated backing, “cannot become Putin’s altar boy”.

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

He said the message was “that I 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”.- Reuters


Three civilians killed in Russian shelling of Vuhledar in east Ukraine, President’s office says

 At least three civilians were killed in Russian shelling of the city of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president’s office said.

Some other areas of Donetsk were under constant fire and regional authorities were trying to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, it said.- Reuters


Ukrainian official accuses Russia of crimes

 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 Monday 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 also has 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.

All of Russian society, and not just President Vladimir Putin “and his proxies,” should bear responsibility for the war on Ukraine because more than 70% of Russians support the invasion, Kovaliv said.- AP

Mariupol, Ukraine

Civilians rescued from Mariupol steel plant head for safety

Russia resumed pulverizing the Mariupol steel mill that has become the last stronghold of resistance in the bombed-out city, Ukrainian fighters said Monday, after a brief cease-fire over the weekend allowed the first evacuation of civilians from the plant.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official warned that Russia is planning to annex large portions of eastern Ukraine this month and recognize the southern city of Kherson as an independent republic.

Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that those suspected actions are “straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook” and will not be recognized by the United States or its allies.

In Mariupol, more than 100 people — including elderly women and mothers with small children — left the rubble-strewn Azovstal steelworks on Sunday and set out in buses and ambulances for the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, about 140 miles (230 kilometers) to the northwest, according to authorities and video released by the two sides.- AP


Ukraine’s foreign reserves resilient amid war shock -central bank head

Foreign financial aid will ensure the stability of Ukraine’s central bank reserves as the country deals with the economic shock from the Russian invasion, central bank governor Kyrylo Shevchenko said late on Monday.

The central bank’s international reserves fell to $26.8 billion as of beginning of May from $28.1 billion a month earlier.

“We have an adequate stock of international reserves, despite the ... government’s fulfilments of all its foreign debt obligations,” Shevchenko wrote on the NV Business media portal.

“With sufficient international financial assistance, we will be able to maintain reserves at the proper level and even increase them.”- Reuters


Moscow says 1,847 children among thousands transported from Ukraine to Russia

 More than 11,500 people, including 1,847 children, were transported from Ukraine into Russia on Monday without the participation of Kyiv’s authorities, Russia’s defence ministry said.

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 Feb. 24th invasion.

Russia says the people have been evacuated on their own request, while Ukraine has said Moscow has forcefully deported thousands of people to Russia since the war’s beginning.- Reuters


Russian teams out of soccer championships

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

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

The latest expulsions are likely to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, just as the Russian Football Union has challenged the previous decisions.- AP


Russia planning east Ukraine annexation: U.S. official

A senior United States official says the U.S. believed 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 U.S. ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said on Monday that the suspected actions are “straight out of the Kremlin's playbook” and will not be recognised by the United States or its partners and allies.

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'Heavy fighting' in Ukraine's east as Mariupol evacuation delayed

Ukrainian authorities were hoping Monday to evacuate more civilians from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, as Russia's offensive in the east of Ukraine continued with "active and heavy" fighting.

Kyiv said more than 100 civilians were evacuated over the weekend from the sprawling Azovstal plant, the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol which has been surrounded by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine on February 24.

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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.

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Printable version | May 5, 2022 9:08:31 am |