Ukraine Russia war latest news: UN conducting ‘safe passage operation’ at Mariupol steelworks

Russian attack destroys apartment building in Kyiv

In a long-awaited humanitarian mission, the United Nations is conducting a “safe passage operation” for civilians near the steelworks serving as the last-remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol.

Up to 1,000 civilians are thought to have been stuck underneath the Azovstal plant with minimal supplies alongside hundreds of fighters – some said to be suffering with festering wounds – after Vladimir Putin told Russian troops to blockade the area last week “so that a fly can’t get through”.

The first groups of civilians, totalling around 50 people so far, reportedly including children, were photographed by a Reuters journalist arriving to the relative safety of a temporary accommodation centre in the nearby Donetsk village of Bezimenne on Sunday.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to indicate he would meet with an initial group of 100 evacuees in the town of Zaporizhzhia on Monday.


Zelensky calls US visit ‘powerful’ signal

President Volodymyr Zelensky has described his meeting with US house speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv as a powerful signal of support in a difficult time.

Speaking during his nightly address on Sunday night, Zelensky said Ukrainians “are grateful to all partners who send such important and powerful signals of support by visiting our capital at such a difficult time.”

Emily Atkinson1 May 2022 22:43


Evacuation under way for civilians trapped at Mariupol steelworks, UN says

The UN has said it is attempting to evacuate civilians holed up in the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

The organisation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed on Sunday that the “safe passage operation” had begun on Friday, with a team arriving in the beleaguered port city on Saturday.

An OCHA spokesperson added that further details could not be given, as doing so could jeopardise the safety of evacuees and of its own personnel.

My colleague Rory Sullivan has more:

Emily Atkinson1 May 2022 22:31


Finland to apply for Nato membership ‘quite surely’, says Sweden’s foreign minister

Sweden’s foreign minister has claimed that Finland will almost certainly apply for Nato membership in the wake of Russia’s fierce military operations in Ukraine.

Anne Linde told the Swedish broadcaster SVT: “We know more or less that they (Finland) will apply for Nato membership. And that changes the whole balance… If one of our countries join, we know that tensions would increase.”

Asked whether she thinks Finland will join the military alliance, Linde said: “I think you can say that quite surely.”

Emily Atkinson1 May 2022 22:09


Lavrov says Victory Day not a relevant date for Ukraine operations

Russia’s upcoming Victory Day – a parade in celebration of the end of World War II – will have no bearing on the invasion of Ukraine, Sergei Lavrov has said.

UK Defence secretary Ben Wallace lent his voice to warnings that the parade on 9 May could be used to declare war.

But, speaking Russian through an Italian interpreter today, the Russian foreign minister said: “Our soldiers won’t base their actions on a specific date.

“We’ll commemorate our victory in a solemn manner but the timing and speed of what is happening in Ukraine will hinge on the need to minimise risks for civilians and Russian solders.”

Emily Atkinson1 May 2022 21:50


Russia has never halted efforts to avoid nuclear war, says Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister has insisted that Western media “misrepresents” Moscow’s threats and that the country is committed to working to prevent a nuclear war ever happening.

Sergei Lavrov said: “Russia has never interrupted efforts to reach agreements that guarantee that a nuclear war never develops.”

Emily Atkinson1 May 2022 21:32


Russia’s forces ‘resumed shelling of Azovstal plant immediately after evacuation’

Russian forces have resumed shelling a vast Mariupol steel plan almost immediately after a partial evacuation of civilians earlier today, a Ukrainian military officer has said.

Denys Shlega, a National Guard brigade commander, said that the shelling began as soon as rescue crews ceased evacuating civilians from the sprawling Azovstal steel mill.

The Azovstal steel plant is pictured on 29 April, 2022


At least one more round of evacuations is needed to clear civilians from the plant, Mr Shlega added – including dozens of small children in bunkers below the industrial facilities.

He estimated that some several hundred civilians still are trapped at besieged plant, alongside nearly 500 wounded soldiers and numerous dead bodies.

Emily Atkinson1 May 2022 21:20


Why did Russia invade Ukraine? The conflict explained

As the war in Ukraine passes day 67, we look back at why Russia started its “special military operation” in the nation:

Read the full story below by our reporters, Thomas Kingsley and Joe Sommerlad:

Thomas Kingsley1 May 2022 21:00


How likely is it that Russia will launch a nuclear attack?

Vladimir Putin placed Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons forces on high alert during the first weekend of his war with Ukraine, prompting fears around the world over what could happen next.

The Russian president blamed “unfriendly actions in the economic sphere”, a reference to the punitive economic sanctions imposed on his country by the Western allies, and claimed leading Nato members had made “aggressive statements”, forcing his hand.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov duly blamed the increase in tensions on remarks made by UK foreign secretary Liz Truss, an ally of whom in turn hit back and denied that anything she had said across a series of Sunday morning interviews “warrants that sort of escalation”.

Read the full story below:

Thomas Kingsley1 May 2022 20:45


‘You can’t imagine what we’ve been through,’ says Mariupol steel plant evacuee

Usmanova, 37, spoke to Reuters on Sunday after being evacuated from the plant, a sprawling complex founded under Josef Stalin and designed with a subterranean network of bunkers and tunnels to withstand attack.

“I feared that the bunker would not withstand it – I had terrible fear,” Usmanova said, describing the time sheltering underground.

“When the bunker started to shake, I was hysterical, my husband can vouch for that: I was so worried the bunker would cave in.”

“We didn’t see the sun for so long,” she said, speaking in the village of Bezimenne in an area of Donetsk under the control of Russia-backed separatists around 30 km (20 miles) east of Mariupol.

She recalled the lack of oxygen in the shelters and the fear that had gripped the lives of people hunkered down there.

Usmanova was among dozens of civilians evacuated from the plant in Mariupol, a southern port city that has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks and left a wasteland.

Usmanova said she joked with her husband on the bus ride out, in a convoy agreed by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), that they would no longer have to go to the lavatory with a torch.

“You just can’t imagine what we have been through – the terror,” Usmanova said. “I lived there, worked there all my life, but what we saw there was just terrible.”


Thomas Kingsley1 May 2022 20:30


Nadal, Djokovic slam Wimbledon ban on Russian players

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic criticized Wimbledon’s decision to exclude Russian and Belarus players from this year’s tournament following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two tennis greats said Sunday that Wimbledon had acted unfairly.

“I think it’s very unfair of (on) my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues … it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam winner, said in Spain where both he and Djokovic are preparing to play in the Madrid Open.

“I’m sorry for them,” Nadal said. “Wimbledon just took their decision … the government didn’t force them to do it.”

Nadal added: “Let’s see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in that regard.”

The ATP and WTA tennis tours have both publicly criticized the All England Club’s decision which was announced 20 April.

Wimbledon starts on 27 June.

Thomas Kingsley1 May 2022 20:15

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