Sun, 1 May 2022, 10:02 pm
About 100 civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol so far, said President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, shortly after the United Nations and Red Cross revealed details of the operation. Dozens were evacuated on Saturday from the extensively-damaged compound.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic lawmakers met with Zelenskiy in a previously unannounced visit to Kyiv to express ongoing support for the war effort and efforts by Congress to finalize a $33 billion aid package.
The Ukraine leader said Saturday night that Moscow is stepping up attacks in the east of the country, and addressed the forces in Russian, urging them not to fight. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said it’s “now necessary” for Germany to supply weapons to Ukraine.
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All times CET:
Lavrov Reaffirms Gas Payments Need Rubles (10:37 p.m.)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reaffirmed that foreign payments for gas will be considered complete only after they are converted into rubles, making it potentially more difficult for energy companies and states to keep gas flowing without breaching sanctions.
“Gas supplies are considered paid not when euros or dollars arrive but when they are converted into rubles, which can’t be stolen,” Lavrov said late on Sunday in an interview with Italian TV channel Rete 4, his first with Western media since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Lavrov also said he was initially “surprised” by Italy’s stance against the Russian invasion. Several Italian politicians have had close ties with Russia and with President Vladimir Putin, including former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose company owns Rete 4.
“We thought the Italian people were different,” Lavrov said.
War Will End When Ukraine Wins, Zelenskiy Says (10:15 p.m.)
“The war will end when we win,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an interview with Greek newspaper Kathimerini. “Since the beginning of the war we have started working on scenarios for all kinds of attacks. Trust in the Russian side’s promises and commitments is zero, after all,” he said.
Zelenskiy estimated the cost of the war to Ukraine’s infrastructure at $60 billion.
Biden Speaks With Pelosi on Kyiv Visit (9:07 p.m.)
President Joe Biden spoke with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she returned to Poland to “discuss her visit to Ukraine” and her meeting with President Zelenskiy in Kyiv, a White House official said. No other details were given.
Zelenskiy Says 100 Evacuations From Azovstal So Far (4:57 p.m.)
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed civilian evacuations from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. The effort started Saturday night under United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross guidance.
More than 100 people have been moved out so far and the operation continues, said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, who said she hopes to be able to meet the first group of evacuees on Monday. Zelenskiy said the civilians will be transported to Zaporizhzhia.
Vereshchuk cited the efforts of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on the desperate Mariupol situation when the pair met in Moscow last week. Some 1,000 civilians and perhaps 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trapped in the Azovstal plant, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment.
UN, Red Cross Say Evacuation Under Way From Azovstal Plant (3:28 p.m.)
The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that an operation is under way to evacuate people from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant, a day after 46 civilians left the complex Saturday night.
The ICRC told the BBC that a safe-passage operation is under way, coordinated with the UN, and with Russian and Ukrainian officials. UN humanitarian spokesman Saviano Abreu made similar remarks to the Associated Press.
Unconfirmed video on social media Saturday showed a convoy of vehicles with UN and Red Cross insignia entering Mariupol. As many as 1,000 civilians and up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers are thought to be sheltered at Azovstal, which has been battered by Russian bombing.
Close to 1 Million Have Crossed Back to Ukraine From Poland (3 p.m.)
Almost ten weeks into Russia’s invasion border flows between Ukraine and Poland are more two-sided. On Saturday, 23,500 people crossed into Poland while 26,800 returned to Ukraine, according to Poland’s border authorities.
Through the end of April some 3.076 million people had crossed into Poland since Feb. 24 — and 975,000 had made the reverse journey.
Altogether, the United Nations estimates almost 5.5 million people have left Ukraine, with Poland, Romania and Russia the top destinations. Millions more have been displaced within the country.
Modi Heads to Europe to Convey India’s Perspective (2 p.m.)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will “exchange perspectives” on the war in Ukraine during his visit to Germany, France and Denmark this week, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said. He arrives in Berlin Monday.
India has always maintained that “there should be cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and the path to resolution goes through diplomacy and dialog,” he said. Still, the South Asian nation has abstained at recent United Nations votes for draft resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion.
Scholz Says ‘Necessary’ For Germany to Arm Ukraine (1:03 p.m.)
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Sunday it was “now necessary” for Germany to supply Ukraine with weapons in its fight against Russia.
“We will support them with arms deliveries so that they can defend themselves,” Scholz said at a May 1 labor union event. Scholz added refusing to do so was “behind the times” given the amount of assistance other European countries have offered.
“It must come across to a citizen of Ukraine as cynical when they’re told they should defend themselves against Putin’s aggression without weapons,” he said. Scholz has faced calls from members of his ruling coalition and opposition parties to ramp up weapons deliveries to Ukraine and take a more asserting stance against Moscow.
Germany Says Won’t Block Embargo on Russian Oil to Punish Putin
Dutch Dockers Refuse to Unload Tanker of Russian Oil (1:05 p.m.)
Dutch workers refused to unload a tanker carrying Russian diesel, as European states edge closer to penalizing Moscow’s energy exports in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.
The Sunny Liger took on about 60,000 tons of diesel at Russia’s Primorsk port in late April, according to a port report and tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
It was refused entry to a Swedish port before being turned away from Rotterdam and Amsterdam in recent days, said Niek Stam, director of FNV Havens, the harbor arm of the Dutch labor union FNV. The vessel’s sitting off IJmuiden, near the port of Amsterdam area, and it’s unclear how long it will stay there, he said.
Russia Says 46 Were Evacuated From Mariupol (12:09 p.m.)
Russia’s defence ministry said a total of 46 women and children left the area around the Azovstal plant in Mariupol on Saturday evening. That still leaves potentially hundreds of civilians and over 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the massive facility, battered by Russian bombing for weeks.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video Saturday that Kyiv was “doing everything to ensure that the evacuation mission from Mariupol is carried out.” Mariupol’s city council said Sunday that more movement of civilians from around the city is planned.
United Nations spokesman Saviano Abreu told the Associated Press on Saturday that the evacuation effort was “fluid,” and didn’t confirm the authenticity of video on social media that claimed to show UN and Red Cross vehicles arriving in Mariupol.
Hungary Says Russian Energy Sanctions Would Hurt Europe (11:58 a.m.)
Hungary reiterated its opposition to the European Union extending sanctions on Russia to energy, with a senior official warning that such a move would hurt member states more than Moscow and that everyone in Europe should “come to their senses.”
“An embargo would mean that we’d have to procure these products from elsewhere and for significantly more, which would mean that we couldn’t guarantee maintaining utility-price subsidies nor heating nor the functioning of the economy,” said Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyas.
Swedish PM Talks Up Benefits of NATO Membership (11:20 a.m.)
Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, told party members that joining NATO would give the country “a special responsibility” for security in the Baltic Sea, according to an article by the news agency TT.
“If Sweden is attacked then we have better opportunities to get support from other countries, but you also give security guarantees,” Andersson told party members. Sweden plans to publish a white paper on NATO membership on May 13.
How Russia Pushed Finland and Sweden Toward NATO: QuickTake
Russia Says It Destroyed Western Weapons Cache in Odesa (11:15 a.m.)
Russian forces hit a military airfield near Odesa on Saturday with cruise missiles, destroying a hangar with weapons donated to Ukraine by the U.S. and Europe, said Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov.
There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. On Saturday, regional officials said Saturday said a Russian missile strike destroyed the recently-constructed runway at Odesa’s main airport. The missile was launched from Russian-annexed Crimea, they said.
Multiple explosions were heard around Odesa, Ukraine’s third largest city, Saturday evening.
U.K. Says It Identified Russian ‘Troll Farm’ (10:45 a.m.)
The U.K. has identified a large “troll farm” on the outskirts of St. Petersburg as the origin of a wave of attacks on Western websites to amplify pro-Russian messages about the war in Ukraine, the Telegraph reported.
The research found that, rather than relying on automated accounts known as bots, the center seeks to recruit and coordinate users via the messaging service Telegram. The social media accounts of U.K. politicians, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on down, are among targeted.
Ruble Becomes Currency in Occupied Kherson (9:17 a.m.)
Russia on Sunday replaced Ukraine’s hryvnia with the ruble as official currency in Kherson, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported, as Moscow looks to extend control over the occupied southern city.
Ukraine’s state communication service said Russia on Sunday cut off mobile communication and internet services provided by Ukrainian operators in the Kherson region. Russian media said Kyiv was responsible for the service disruption.
Since seizing Kherson in early March, Moscow “has sought to legitimize its control of the city and surrounding areas through installing a pro-Russian administration,” the U.K. defense ministry said in an intelligence update. Recent actions “are likely indicative of Russian intent to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term.”
Pelosi Meets With Zelenskiy in Kyiv (8:22 a.m.)
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met Ukraine’s president in a previously unannounced visit to Kyiv, becoming the highest-ranked American official to travel to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.
Zelenskiy showed footage of the visit on his Ukrainian-language Twitter account early Sunday. “Thank you for helping to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state!” he tweeted.
The footage showed Zelenskiy shaking hands with Pelosi and other U.S. lawmakers, including Democrats Adam Schiff of California, Jason Crow of Colorado and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. “Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,” Pelosi said in the video.