Another 344 people have been rescued from the besieged city of Mariupol in a second evacuation operation, Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed in his latest national address. However, the Ukrainian president said civilians will need to be dug from bunkers by hand under the Azovstal steelworks as heavy equipment cannot be used.
The second stage of our evacuation operation from Mariupol was completed today. 344 people were rescued – from the city and its suburbs. That’s how many people departed to Zaporizhzhia today…
They all receive the necessary help. All of them will receive the most caring treatment from our state.”
Zelenskiy said negotiations continue to rescue people trapped in the Azovstal steel works. “There are still civilians. Women, children,” he added.
To save them, we need to continue the silence. The Ukrainian side is ready to provide it. It takes time to just lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters. In the current conditions, we cannot use special equipment to clear the debris. Everything is done manually.”
Zelenskiy also asked the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, for help evacuating people still trapped in the plant.
“The lives of the people who remain there are in danger. Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help in saving them,” he said.
The European Union should confiscate and sell Russian assets it has seized through sanctions and use the proceeds to rebuild Ukraine, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said.
In an interview with the Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Michel said:
I’m absolutely convinced that this is extremely important not only to freeze assets, but also to make possible to confiscate it, to make it available for the rebuilding of the country.
In my opinion, this is a question of fairness.
The EU said last month that it had frozen €30bn in assets linked to blacklisted Russian and Belarusian individuals. Michel’s remarks make him the first senior EU official to propose the confiscation of these assets, AFP reports.
The US president, Joe Biden, proposed last week for oligarchs’ seized assets to be “sold off” to “remedy the harm Russia caused and to help build Ukraine”.
But rights groups warned any legislation in that sense could violate due-process protections, a concern Michel acknowledged.
Confiscation of sanctioned individuals’ assets “is not so simple” and would be “a difficult and long process”, he said.
US officials have reportedly confirmed they are providing intelligence that has helped Ukrainian forces target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in the Ukraine war.
The claim in the New York Times, quoting unnamed defence officials, appears to confirm suspicions the US is supplying actionable intelligence in real time to help the Ukrainian military select high-value targets.
Appearing to confirm the claims, the Pentagon spokesperson, John Kirby, acknowledged the US was providing “Ukraine with information and intelligence that they can use to defend themselves”, although Adrienne Watson, a national security council spokesperson, said intelligence was not provided “with the intent to kill Russian generals”.
The acknowledgment of US intelligence assistance in targeting Russian forces, which comes on top of another $20bn (£16bn) in promised weapons to Ukraine from Washington, is a further escalation in what is increasingly becoming a proxy war between the US, with its western allies, and Russian forces in Ukraine.
The Kremlin said on Thursday it was well aware that the United States, Britain and other Nato countries were constantly feeding intelligence to the Ukrainian military and that this would not stop Russia from achieving its objectives.
While Moscow has already said it was targeting western arms shipments arriving in Ukraine, it also threatened “lightning fast” retaliation after the UK defence minister James Heappey defended Ukraine striking targets inside Russia.
According to the US officials, Washington has given Ukraine details on Russia’s expected troop movements and the location and other information 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.
Ukrainian officials said their forces had killed about 12 Russian generals on the battlefield. The most recent fatality apparently occurred at the weekend with the reported death of Maj Gen Andrei Simonov, a Russian electronic warfare commander, who Ukraine said it killed near the city of Izium in the Kharkiv region, which is occupied by Russian forces.
Russia has expelled seven employees of the Danish embassy in Moscow in retaliation for a similar move by Copenhagen last month, the Russian foreign ministry said.
The ministry said it had declared the Danish embassy employees “persona non grata”, adding that Denmark’s openly anti-Russian policy was seriously damaging bilateral relations.
Moscow reserved the right to take additional steps in response, it said.
The Danish foreign ministry confirmed it had been informed that four diplomats and three other employees at its embassy in Moscow would be expelled.
Denmark’s foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, said the expulsion was “completely unjustified and deeply problematic” and that it underlined that Russia “no longer wants real dialogue and diplomacy”.
The Kremlin accused the west of preventing a “quick end” to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine by supplying weapons and intelligence to Kyiv.
Responding to a New York Times report that the US had provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces kill a dozen Russian generals in the Ukraine war, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said:
Our military is well aware that the United States, Britain and Nato as a whole are constantly transmitting intelligence and other parameters to the Ukrainian armed forces.
Coupled with the flow of weapons that these countries are sending to Ukraine, these are all actions that do not contribute to the quick completion of the operation.
This would not stop Russia from achieving its military objectives in Ukraine, he said.
Asked what measures Russia might take in response, Peskov said:
Of course, the Russian military is doing whatever is necessary in this situation.
Hello, it’s Léonie Chao-Fong with you again to bring you all the latest developments from the war in Ukraine. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.
The Kremlin has denied that Russian troops are storming the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are trapped, and said humanitarian corridors are operating there.
Reuters reports that asked if a claim by a senior Ukrainian official that Russian troops had broken into the plant’s territory was true, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred reporters to President Vladimir Putin’s previous order not to storm the plant.
It should be noted that in the past Peskov has said that reports Russia intended to invade Ukraine were a “hollow and unfounded” invention of the western media, and in February he said that Russian troops would be “pulled back to their permanent bases” after the conclusion of joint military drills with Belarus. Seven days after he said that, Russia launched what it terms its “special military operation” inside Ukraine.
- Another 344 people have been rescued from the besieged city of Mariupol in a second evacuation operation, Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed in his latest national address. However, the Ukrainian president said civilians would need to be dug from bunkers under the city’s Azovstal steelworks by hand as heavy equipment could not be used.
- Russia has said it will implement a ceasefire for three days from Thursday to allow more civilian evacuations from the Azovstal plant. However, Ukraine has claimed Russia resumed its offensive against Mariupol in order to take control of the plant, saying heavy fighting continues.
- Video has emerged which appears to show the Azovstal plant being bombed, although when the footage was filmed was unclear.
- Russia said its artillery struck multiple Ukrainian positions and strongholds overnight, killing 600 fighters. The defence ministry also said its missiles destroyed aviation equipment at the Kanatovo airfield in Ukraine’s central Kirovohrad region, and a large ammunition depot in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
- Ukraine’s military says it has regained control over several settlements surrounding Mykolaiv and Kherson in the country’s south.
- Ukraine has shelled the Russian Belgorod villages of Zhuravlevka and Nekhoteevka with no resulting casualties, according to the region’s governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
- 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, citing senior US officials. Washington has reportedly provided Ukraine with details on Russia’s expected troop movements and the location and other details about Russia’s mobile military headquarters.
- Reports claim almost 200,000 children from the self-proclaimed breakaway regions of Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk – have so far arrived in Russia since the latest conflict began on 24 February. Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of carrying out forced deportations from the east of the country.
- Russia said its forces practiced simulated nuclear-capable missile strikes yesterday in the western enclave of Kaliningrad
- Germany is preparing to supply Ukraine with seven Panzerhaubitze 2000 armoured howitzers granting Kyiv’s explicit wishes for material support in the shape of the self-propelled weapons systems that can hit targets at a distance of 25 miles (40km).
- The UK is providing £45m in funding to help the most vulnerable in Ukraine and at its borders, the government has said. The money will go to UN agencies and charities delivering aid and supporting survivors of sexual violence.
A video published by a Russia-backed separatist group appears to show an attack on the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. The video was released on 4 May, and while the location has been confirmed, it is unclear when it was filmed.
Julian Borger reports for us from Washington on how the Ukrainian war is also a domestic political issue for US President Joe Biden:
The visit of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to Kyiv at the head of a congressional delegation this week was a reminder that in Washington the Ukraine war is not just an issue of national security but is an increasingly important domestic political issue too.
In his approach to the conflict, Joe Biden, has the wind at his back in terms of US public opinion and Democratic party sentiment which is encouraging him to be ever more forward-leaning.
In a new poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, 37% of Americans questioned said his administration was not doing enough to support the Ukrainians, fractionally more than the 36% who said he was doing the right amount. Only 14% suggested he was doing too much.
Late last month, the administration broadened US objectives in the conflict, to not just support Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity but also to weaken Russia, with the aim of preventing a repeat of Moscow’s aggression against other countries.
A European diplomat suggested that one of the factors behind that shift was impatience in the higher levels of the party with the administration’s posture.
Read more of Julian Borger’s analysis here: Why the Ukrainian war is also a domestic political issue for Biden
Germany is preparing to supply Ukraine with seven Panzerhaubitze 2000 armoured howitzers, according to newspaper Die Welt, granting explicit wishes by Kyiv for material support in the shape of the self-propelled weapons systems that can hit targets at a distance of 40 kilometres.
The delivery of the armoured howitzers, which newspaper Bild reported to be currently in repair and not be ready for delivery until the end of June, is believed to be a political decision that goes against the advice of Germany’s military, which has said it requires the armed vehicles for its own needs.
Only 40 out of 119 Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers within the Bundeswehr’s arsenal are currently ready for use, said Die Welt.
Mariupol’s mayor Vadym Boychenko has praised the work of Ukraine’s president and deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk in a post on the Mariupol council’s official Facebook page. He is quoted as saying:
Now we are fighting together for the salvation of every person, every Mariupol resident. Thank you to the international partners involved in organizing the humanitarian corridors. Special thanks to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and Iryna Vereshchuk for saving the lives of Mariupol residents. The evacuation should be continued and maximum diplomatic efforts should be made along the way.
In a second statement, Mariupol council has announced that it is setting up hubs to help Mariupol residents who have been forced to flee the city in Zaporizhia and Dnipro, with the aim not just to provide services but “a sense of home”.
The council says “This is a kind of Mariupol diaspora, where you can find friends, support and understanding. When we have each other, Mariupol lives!”
The council says it plans to open centres in other Ukrainian cities shortly.
Russia’s RIA news agency is reporting that almost 200,000 children from the self-proclaimed breakaway regions of Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk – have so far arrived in Russia since the latest conflict began on 24 February.
RIA quote a representative of Russia’s emergency services saying “In total, 199,700 children crossed the Russian state border at the beginning of the conflict, including 2,100 over the past day.”
Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of carrying out forced deportations from the east of the country in territory it occupies.
Here is the video clip of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying civilians are still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, after more than 300 people were rescued from the city during a brief ceasefire.
Russia said this morning that its artillery struck multiple Ukrainian positions and strongholds overnight, killing 600 fighters.
Reuters reports the defence ministry also said its missiles destroyed aviation equipment at the Kanatovo airfield in Ukraine’s central Kirovohrad region, and a large ammunition depot in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
The Russian Belgorod villages of Zhuravlevka and Nekhoteevka have been shelled by Ukraine with no casualties resulting, according to the region’s governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
Russia’s RIA news agency quotes his Telegram channel saying “a house and a garage were destroyed in Nekhoteevka. There were no casualties among the civilian population. The shelling continues.”
The Belgorod region borders Ukraine, the north of Kharkiv.
Gen Richard Dannatt, the former Chief of the General Staff of the British army in the early 2000s has been interviewed about Ukraine on Sky News in the UK this morning. He told viewers that he thought the renewed reports of fighting at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol represented Russia attempting to secure some sort of victory announcement for the 9 May commemoration of the end of the second world war. He said:
It would appear they’ve now resumed the direct attack in order to try and snuff out the remaining parts of the resistance, so that they can claim on Monday that they have captured Mariupol, and therefore they have completed their land corridor from Crimea through the Donbas into Russia proper.
This is a tragedy that’s unfolding in front of our eyes. Some of the civilians may get out over a two or three day ceasefire, which is being talked about, but for the soldiers in there, I’m afraid the prospect is very grim.
He suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin was in a position to declare a victory because “he has control over the state media. He can say what he likes. And tragically a large proportion of the Russian people will believe what he says.”
Dannatt said that “the evidence is mounting” that Russia’s campaign amounts to an attempt at genocide, describing the attack on the theatre in Mariupol as “really quite despicable.”
He felt that the prospects for the endgame in Ukraine were quite bleak for the Ukrainians, saying:
The sad reality is that at some point, hopefully in the not too distant future, there will be some form of general ceasefire and the war will stop where it is.
[The Russians] won’t leave of their own free accord. And no one is going to throw them out. Nato and the west is not going to mount an Iraq-style operation to throw out the Russians from Ukraine in the same way that Saddam Hussein was thrown out of Kuwait. That just isn’t going to happen.
So there may have to be the realisation of an awful new status quo, where 10-to-15% of Ukraine is occupied by Russians, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.