Russia-Ukraine crisis updates | May 5, 2022

A view shows residential buildings destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on May 3, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The commander of the main defending force at the Azovstal steel mill in the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol says Russian troops have broken into the territory of the mill, where limited evacuations of besieged civilians occurred last week.

Air raid sirens sounded in cities across Ukraine on Wednesday night and missile fire followed shortly after in the cities of Cherkasy, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia.

The European Union’s chief executive is proposing that the bloc ban oil imports from Russia over its war on Ukraine, and target the country’s biggest bank and major broadcasters in a new round of sanctions.

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:

London

UK sanctions Russian steelmaker Evraz

Russian mining company Evraz, which Britain said produces 28% of all Russian railway wheels and 97% of rail-tracks in Russia and whose biggest shareholder is sanctioned billionaire Roman Abramovich, had its asset frozen today.

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new delhi

After 2-month hiatus, Aeroflot to resume Russia-India flights from May 6

The Russian government-run Aeroflot will resume flights between Russia and India from Friday.

Aeroflot had suspended its scheduled international flight operations on March 8 as aircraft lessors – based out of western countries such as the US, the UK and Europe – had recalled their planes once Russia began its war against Ukraine on February 24.

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MARIUPOL

Russia ready to give safe passage for civilians in Mariupol’s Azovstal, Putin tells Israeli PM

Russia was still ready to provide safe passage for the civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel works in Ukraine’s Mariupol as told by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a phone call on Thursday, the Kremlin said.

Mr. Putin also said that Ukraine should order its fighters holed up in Azovstal to put down their weapons. - Reuters 

LONDON

UK’s Johnson, Ukraine’s Zelensky discuss provision of long-range weapons

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, discussed the requirements of the Ukrainian armed forces, including the supply of long-range weaponry from Britain to Ukraine, a spokesperson for Johnson’s office said.

“The leaders discussed developments on the battlefield and the Ukrainian armed forces’ requirements, including the provision of longer-range weaponry to prevent the bombardment of civilians,” the spokesperson said. - Reuters

PARIS

France to increase financial aid to Ukraine by $300 million

France will increase its financial aid to Ukraine this year to $2 billion from $1.7 billion, President Emmanuel Macron said in a video address to an international donors’ conference in Warsaw, Poland.

The conference, aimed at helping Ukraine deal with the economic and humanitarian fallout of Russia’s invasion, is hosted by Poland and Sweden, in cooperation with the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council.

“The humanitarian needs of the population and the economic situation of the country call for a new effort by the international community which meets the needs linked to the destruction of civilian infrastructure”, Mr. Macron said. - Reuters

Moscow

Russia expels 7 members of Danish embassy in Moscow

Russia, on Thursday, declared seven employees of the Danish embassy in Moscow ‘persona non grata’ in response to a similar move by Copenhagen last month. Moscow also objected to Denmark’s military assistance to Ukraine.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Denmark’s openly anti-Russian policy was seriously damaging bilateral relations and that Russia reserved the right to take additional steps in response.

Denmark’s foreign ministry confirmed in an emailed statement it had been informed that four diplomats and three other employees at its embassy in Moscow would be expelled. - Reuters

Conflict in Mariupol

Kremlin says humanitarian corridors at Mariupol steel plant ‘functioning’

Kremlin informed on Thursday that humanitarian corridors at Mariupol steel plant were ‘functioning’. Further, it said Western arms supplies to Ukraine are preventing ‘quick’ end to conflict.

A Russian-announced ceasefire was due to begin Thursday at the besieged steel plant in the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol, to allow civilians to flee even as its defenders vowed to fight to the end.

The three-day halt in Russia’s attack on the Azovstal steelworks was announced as EU member states debated a proposed ban on Russian oil, the bloc’s toughest move yet over Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour. - AFP

Conflict in Mariupol

Combat rages at Azovstal steel mill

Ukrainian forces said on Thursday that they repelled Russian attacks in the east and recaptured some territory, even as Moscow moved to obstruct the flow of Western weapons to Ukraine by bombarding rail stations and other supply-line targets across the country.

Heavy fighting also raged at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol that represented the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined southern port city, the Ukrainian military reported. A Russian official earlier denied that troops were storming the plant, but the commander of the main Ukrainian unit inside said Russian soldiers had pushed into the mill’s territory. - AP

Children in the conflict

221 children killed, 408 injured since the begging of invasion: Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office

Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office informed on Thursday that since the beginning of Russia’s against Ukraine, 221 children have died and 408 injured. Most victims among children are from the Donetsk region. It added that these are conservation estimates, the real numbers are likely to be higher.

The U.N. Human Rights Office had informed on Wednesday that more than 3,238 people have been killed and 3,397 injured from attacks which were mostly caused by shelling and airstrikes.

Ceasefire for evacuating civilians

Russian ceasefire at besieged steep plant in Mariupol to begin today

A Russian-announced ceasefire is due to begin today at the besieged steel plant in the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

The ceasefire is to allow civilians to flee even as its defenders vow to fight to the end.

The three-day halt in Russia’s attack on the Azovstal steelworks was announced as EU member states debated a proposed ban on Russian oil, the bloc’s toughest move yet over Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour.

The EU also pledged to “significantly increase” support for Ukrainian neighbour Moldova, where a series of attacks in a Russia-backed separatist region has sparked fears a war that has killed thousands could spread more than two months after it began.

Separately, Reuters reported Ukrainian President Zelenskiy saying that it would time to lift people out of the basements and underground shelters where they are hiding. He added that at present circumstances it would not be possible to use heavy equipment to clear the rubble, it has to be done using hands. - AFP

Ukraine

Ukraine: Russia using ‘missile terrorism’ in wide attacks

 Complaining that the West is “stuffing Ukraine with weapons,” Russia bombarded railroad stations and other supply-line targets across the country, as the European Union moved to further punish Moscow for the war Wednesday by proposing a ban on oil imports.

Heavy fighting also raged at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol that represented the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined southern port city, according to the mayor. A Russian official denied that Moscow’s troops were storming the plant, but the commander of the main Ukrainian military unit inside said Russian troops had broken into the mill’s territory.

The Russian military also said it used sea- and air-launched missiles to destroy electric power facilities at five railway stations across Ukraine, while artillery and aircraft also struck troop strongholds and fuel and ammunition depots.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of “resorting to the missile terrorism tactics in order to spread fear across Ukraine.”- AP

U.S.A.

U.S. intelligence helping Ukraine kill Russian generals -NY Times

The United States has provided intelligence that has helped Ukrainian forces kill many of the Russian generals who have died in the Ukraine war, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing senior U.S. officials.

Washington has provided to Ukraine details on Russia’s expected troop movements and the location and other details about Russia’s mobile military headquarters, and Ukraine has combined that help with its own intelligence to conduct artillery strikes and other attacks that have killed Russian officers, the newspaper said.

The Pentagon and the White House did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on the report.- Reuters

Mariupol

Prolonged truce needed for Mariupol evacuations, Ukraine’s president says

 Civilians including women and children are still trapped inside Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol and a prolonged ceasefire is needed to ensure their evacuation as Russia presses its assault, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.

After failing to capture the capital Kyiv in the early weeks of a war that has killed thousands and flattened cities, Russia has accelerated attacks on Ukraine’s east and south, where the Azov Sea port of Mariupol is among its main targets.

Russia declared victory over Mariupol on April 21 after weeks of siege and shelling. The city is key to Moscow’s efforts to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea - vital for grain and metals exports - and link Russian-controlled territory.- Reuters

United Nations

UN: More than 300 evacuated from Mariupol

The United Nations says more than 300 civilians from the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol and four other towns have been evacuated to Ukrainian-held Zaporizhzhia in a second successful operation to get civilians out of areas subject to Russian shelling and attacks.

Osnat Lubrani, the U.N. humanitarian chief in Ukraine, said in a statement that many of the civilians from Mariupol, Manhush, Berdiansk, Tokmak and Vasylivka came Wednesday with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and are now getting humanitarian assistance. She said they’ll also receive “much- needed psychological support.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the 344 evacuated Wednesday are in addition to the more than 150 people who were evacuated earlier this week from the bunkers under the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian troops and reportedly came under renewed fire on Wednesday.- AP

Ukraine

Russian troops enter Azovstal plant, top Ukrainian lawmaker says

Russian forces have entered the territory of Mariupol's Azovstal plant, Ukraine's ruling parliamentary faction head David Arakhamia said in a Wednesday evening comment to RFE/RL.

"Attempts to storm the plant continue for the second day. Russian troops are already on the territory of Azovstal," RFE/RL quoted Arakhamia as saying, adding that as of Wednesday evening contact remained between Ukraine's government and the Ukrainian fighters in the plant.

Russia

Russia pounds Ukraine, targeting supply of Western arms

Russian forces pounded targets across Ukraine, taking aim at supply lines for foreign weapons in the west and intensifying an offensive in the east, as the European Union moved Wednesday to further punish Moscow for the war with a proposed ban on oil imports.

The Russian military said Wednesday it used sea- and air-launched precision guided missiles to destroy electric power facilities at five railway stations across Ukraine, while artillery and aircraft also struck troop strongholds and fuel and ammunition depots.

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European Union

EU proposes phased Russian oil embargo, more sanctions

The EU proposed its toughest sanctions yet against Russia on Wednesday, including a phased oil embargo, as Ukraine came under further heavy Russian bombardment and nervously monitored large-scale army drills in neighbouring Belarus, a close Moscow ally.

Piling pressure on Russia’s already battered $1.8 trillion economy, the European Commission proposed phasing out supplies of Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022.

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