Mariupol soldiers in desperate battle ’till the end’

  • A UN convoy is on its way to Mariupol to evacuate more civilians from the Ukrainian port city.
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says 500 people have now been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol and surrounding areas.
  • Fighters inside Azovstal are fighting a desperate battle with Russian forces who have stormed the plant.
  • The Ukrainian army says Russian troops made “unsuccessful” attempts to advance in the eastern Kharkiv and Donetsk regions.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden have agreed not to recognise any Russian territorial gains in Ukraine.
INTERACTIVE - Donbas control map - DAY 71
[Al Jazeera]

Here are all the latest updates:

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

Hungary cannot support the European Union’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 steel works 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 toward Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, May 9, 2021 [AP File 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 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,” Petr 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 can’t 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 atop 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 [Olexandr Chornyi/AP]

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 the United Nations 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]

‘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 [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP File]

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.

Antonio Guterres said in a tweet that the United Nations 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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 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 United Nations’ 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

UN chief Antonio 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 link