US pledges continued support for Ukraine as fighting – now in its 68th day – stretches along a broad front in southern and eastern Ukraine's Donbass region.

The new military support, which will include electronic warfare equipment, a counter-battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices, is the latest defensive aid from London.
The new military support, which will include electronic warfare equipment, a counter-battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices, is the latest defensive aid from London. (AP)

Monday, May 2, 2022

UK's Johnson to announce $376M military aid to Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce on Tuesday another £300 million ($376 mn, 358 mn euros) in military aid for Ukraine in a remote address to its parliament, his office said.

Johnson will use the speech delivered via video link, the first by a foreign leader to Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada since Russia invaded on February 24, to hail the country's resistance as its "finest hour".

The new military support, which will include electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices, is the latest defensive aid from London.

Russia's billionaire buys payment company, exiting Russian market

Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin's Interros group has said it had bought United Card Services, part of Global Payments Inc, its third deal in three weeks as it snaps up financial assets from buyers exiting the Russian market.

Global Payments confirmed it was exiting its Russian business as it released its first quarter results on Monday. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Potanin, 61, is the head of mining giant Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel), which has benefited from high metals prices in recent months. He is Russia's second-richest man with a fortune of $17.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

Hungary to vote against EU's Russian gas measures

Hungary will not vote for any measures prepared by the European Union that could endanger the security of its oil or gas supply, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, reiterating the country's position to RTL television.

Szijjarto also said that as the European Union was preparing an embargo on Russian oil, Hungary made it clear the government's position has not changed on the issue.

Germany: Sanctions to stay until Ukraine-Russia peace deal

The sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its offensive on Ukraine will not be lifted until Moscow reaches a peace agreement with Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, adding that it was for Ukraine to determine the peace terms.

Scholz, in an interview broadcast on Monday on ZDF public television, said Russian President Vladimir Putin had miscalculated if he had anticipated he might be able to gain territory from Ukraine, declare an end to hostilities, and see Western countries drop sanctions .

"He didn't think his entire Ukraine operation through," Scholz said. "He didn't think Ukraine would resist like that. He didn't think we would support them to hold out for so long. ... We won't withdraw the sanctions unless he reaches an agreement with Ukraine, and he won't get that with a dictated peace."

US: Russia planning mid-May referenda in Donetsk, Luhansk

Russia is planning imminently to "annex" the two eastern regions of Ukraine battered by its offensive after failing to overthrow the Kiev government, a senior US official has said.

"According to the most recent reports, we believe that Russia will try to annex the 'Donetsk People's Republic' and 'Luhansk People's Republic' to Russia," said Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

"The reports state that Russia plans to engineer referenda upon joining sometime in mid-May," he told reporters in Washington.

Turkish, Russian defence ministers discuss Ukraine over phone

Turkish and Russian defence ministers have discussed the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and the prospect of a ceasefire over the phone.

Hulusi Akar told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoygu, that the safe and immediate evacuation of civilians via land or sea is of utmost importance, said a National Defence Ministry statement.

Reiterating that an immediate ceasefire is crucial for restoring peace and stability to the region, Akar added that Türkiye will continue to provide humanitarian aid and work to establish a peaceful environment.

Teenage boy killed in fresh Russian strike on Odesa

A teenage boy has been killed in a fresh Russian strike on Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa, the southern city's council said on social media.

"As a result of a missile strike in Odesa, a residential building which had five people in it at the time of the attack, was damaged. A 15-year-old boy died," Odesa city council said on Telegram. A girl was hospitalised, it said, but gave no details on the other three.

Late last month, five people were killed, including a three-month-old girl, in a strike on Odesa, a largely Russian-speaking city. Russia denies targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Sweden, Finland to act against Russia-based ice hockey players

Swedish and Finnish ice hockey players playing in Russia's KHL league next season will not be allowed to play for their national teams, the two countries' federations have said.

"The Finnish Ice Hockey Association's position is that players playing in Russia next season cannot play for the national team", the association said in a statement. The Swedish federation said it would be adopting a similar decision later this spring.

Resilience of Ukrainian refugees 'inspires' Jill Biden

Jill Biden has said she will head to Romania and Slovakia later this week to visit Ukrainian families who fled for their lives after Russia attacked their country, in hopes of sending the message “that their resilience inspires me”.

The White House announced late on Sunday that the first lady will spend Mother's Day meeting Ukrainian refugees, most of whom are women and children.

The May 8 meeting will take place in Slovakia. Biden is scheduled to depart Washington late on Thursday on a five-day trip that will also take her to Romania. Both the NATO members share borders with Ukraine.

Ukraine fighter: Civilians remain trapped in Mariupol steel works

A Ukrainian fighter holed up the city of Mariupol has said that up to 200 civilians remained trapped inside bunkers in the Azovstal steel works after an evacuation operation led by the United Nations to save civilians from the site.

Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, 39, a deputy commander of Ukraine's Azov Regiment, told Reuters news agency by Zoom that his fighters could hear the voices of people trapped in bunkers of the vast industrial complex.

He said they were women, children and elderly people, but that the Ukrainian forces there did not have the mechanised equipment needed to dislodge the rubble, he said.

Groups of civilians left Azovstal over the weekend in an evacuation organised by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the first to leave since President Vladimir Putin ordered the plant barricaded.
Groups of civilians left Azovstal over the weekend in an evacuation organised by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the first to leave since President Vladimir Putin ordered the plant barricaded. (AFP)

Deaths, injuries feared in Odesa rocket strike

A rocket strike has hit the Black Sea port city of Odesa in southwestern Ukraine, causing deaths and injuries, the local governor, Maksym Marchenko, has said on the Telagram messaging app. No further details were immediately available.

Separately, Ukraine's public broadcaster Suspilne quoted the southern military command as saying that the strike had damaged a religious building. Russia has repeatedly denied civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Meanwhile, intense fighting is under way around Izyum, Lyman and Rubizhne, as the Russians prepare their attack on Severodonetsk, the last easterly city still held by Kiev, Ukraine's general staff said.

UN: Civilian death toll in Ukraine conflict has jumped to 3,153

The United Nations has said that at least 3,153 civilians have been killed in the Ukraine conflict. Of them 226 are children, according to latest UN figures that suggest 3,316 civilians have been wounded.

Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems and missile and air strikes.

“OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed,” read a statement by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UEFA: Russian clubs banned from 2022/23 Champions League

Russian clubs have been banned by UEFA from participating in the Champions League and all other European competitions next season, European football's governing body has announced.

"Russia will have no affiliated clubs participating in UEFA club competitions in the 2022/23 season," it said in a statement. Russian clubs and national teams were suspended "until further notice" by UEFA in February in the wake of the country's attacks on Ukraine.

The Russian team's exclusion from the Women's European Championship to take place in England in July was also confirmed Monday with Portugal taking its place.

Official: US can't confirm top Russian general wounded in Donbass

The United States believes that the Russian military's Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, visited Ukraine's Donbass region last week but cannot confirm media reports that he was wounded during fighting, a US defence official has said.

"We can confirm he was in the Donbass," the senior US official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

US embassy in Ukraine hopes to return to Kiev by May-end

The US embassy hopes to return to Kiev by the end of May if conditions permit, its charge d'affaires has said.

US diplomats departed the Kiev embassy nearly two weeks before Russia launched its Ukraine offensive on February 24, moving some functions to the western city of Lviv before eventually relocating to neighbouring Poland.

"We listen to the security professionals, and when they tell us we can go back we will go back," the charge d'affaires, Kristina Kvien, told a news briefing.

Hungary moves embassy back to Kiev

Hungary has moved its embassy in Ukraine back to Kiev from Lviv as the security situation in the capital keeps improving, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said.

In a Facebook video, Szijjarto said the move was finished over the weekend and the embassy in Kiev was already operating.

Some Western countries have moved their embassies back to Kiev as the main focus of fighting in Ukraine has moved away from the capital to the east and south of the country.

EU not aware of any firms paying for Russian gas in roubles

The European Commission has no information that any European company has paid in roubles for Russian gas, after Moscow demanded foreign buyers comply with a mechanism to convert payments from euros or dollars to roubles, the European Union's energy policy chief has said.

"The Commission doesn't have information about any countries or private company who is willing to do so," European energy commissioner Kadri Simson said on arrival at a meeting of European Union energy ministers in Brussels.

Poland says ready to be independent from Russian oil

Poland is ready to be fully independent from Russian oil and is willing to support other countries to cut their supplies of fossil fuels from Russia, the country's environment and climate minister Anna Moskwa has said.

"Poland is proud to be on Putin's list of unfriendly countries," she told reporters before a meeting with fellow national ministers in Brussels to discuss energy. Moskwa also said that Poland's storages of gas would be filled for the winter.

Germany ready to support Russian oil ban, but 'must be prepared'

Germany is ready to support a ban on Russian oil, but this must be properly prepared and should also take into account the dependence of other EU countries on Russian supplies, the country's economy and climate action minister has said.

"The German position is that we need to prepare the steps well and not lead to an uncontrollable economic situation. Germany has taken great progress on coal and oil and is on course to do the same for gas. Other countries need a bit more time," Robert Habeck told reporters before an EU meeting on energy.

Italy rejects report that it is open to paying for Russian gas in roubles

Italy's Ecology Transition Ministry has denied a media report that Italy was open to paying for Russian gas with roubles.

In a report on Monday, Politico cited Italy's Ecology Transition minister Roberto Cingolani as saying European energy companies should provisionally be allowed to comply with Russian demands to pay for gas in roubles.

In a note, the ministry said the article was "misleading". "While waiting for a common EU position on the payments position, the euro/roubles scheme envisaging that companies pay in euros at the moment does not seem to constitute a breach of the sanctions of Feb. 24," the ministry said.

Germany’s Scholz: I repeat my appeal to Putin to stop Ukraine offensive

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has renewed his call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the offensive in Ukraine.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Berlin with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Scholz expressed deep concern over repeated attacks by the Russian military and rising number of civilian deaths and injuries in the country.

“The war and the brutal attacks against the civilian population in Ukraine shows us how unrestrained Russia has been in violating the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” he stressed.

Indian PM Modi urges 'talks' to stop Ukraine conflict

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for dialogue to end the conflict in Ukraine at the start of a European tour, but steered clear of condemning Russia.

India, which imports much of its military hardware from Russia, has long walked a diplomatic tightrope between the West and Moscow, and has called only for an immediate end to hostilities.

"We have insisted on a ceasefire and called for talks as the only way to resolve dispute since the start of the Ukraine crisis," Modi told reporters after talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. "We believe that there won't be any winners in this war and everyone will lose...," he said.

Russia shows seized Ukraine nuclear plant 'operating normally'

Nearly two months after it was seized by Russian forces, there are few signs of the fighting for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine that sparked global fears of a potential atomic disaster.

Other than a scorched administrative building, the vast complex in southern Ukraine – Europe's largest nuclear power plant – appeared largely untouched by the clashes during a visit by AFP news agency this weekend, part of a press tour organised by the Russian military.

There has been deep international concern over the situation at the plant, which has six of Ukraine's 15 reactors and can create enough energy for four million homes.

Zelenskyy: Ukrainians forced to go to Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that half a million Ukrainians have been “illegally taken to Russia, or other places, against their will.” 

Speaking to Greek state TV ERT, Zelenskyy said the remaining civilians in the Azovstal factory in the city of Mariupol are afraid to board buses because they believe they will be taken to Russia.

Around 23,800 Russian troops killed, says Ukraine

Some 23,800 Russian soldiers have so far been killed in Ukraine, the country's military said.

Ukrainian forces have destroyed 194 Russian aircraft, 155 helicopters, 271 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,048 tanks, 2,519 armoured vehicles and 459 artillery systems, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s latest update.

The Russians have also lost 152 multiple rocket launcher systems, 1,824 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 80 anti-aircraft systems and eight boats, it added.

Russian rocket strike hits strategic bridge in southwest Ukraine: Local authorities

A Russian rocket strike hit a strategically important bridge across the Dniester estuary in the Odesa region of southwest Ukraine, local authorities said.

The bridge, which has already been hit twice by Russian forces, provides the only road and rail link on Ukrainian territory to a large southern section of the Odesa region.

Serhiy Bratchuk, the Odesa regional administration's spokesman, reported the strike on the Telegram messaging app but gave no further details.

Russia says its military shot down Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet

Russia's defence ministry said that the Russian military had shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet near Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine.

It said in a briefing it had hit 38 military targets in Ukraine, including ammunition depots and control centres.

It was not possible to independently confirm the information.

Israel slams Russian claims on Hitler over Ukraine crisis

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slammed his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for alleging Adolf Hitler may have "had Jewish blood" and summoned Moscow's ambassador for "clarifications".

Moscow has previously said it wants to "de-militarise" and "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

Speaking to Italian outlet Mediaset's Rete 4 channel in an interview released Sunday, Lavrov claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy "puts forward an argument of what kind of Nazism can they have if he himself is Jewish". 

Ukraine to evacuate more civilians from besieged Mariupol

Ukrainian authorities planned to evacuate more civilians from Mariupol, after dozens were finally brought to safety following weeks trapped under heavy fire in a steel complex. 

The United Nations said Sunday that a "safe passage operation" was taking place at the Azovstal plant, which includes a maze of Soviet-era underground tunnels. 

According to Kyiv, roughly 100 civilians have been evacuated from the plant, although Russia's defence ministry gave a lower figure of 80 civilians, including women and children. 

Evacuation buses have not reached pickup point yet: Mariupol council

Buses seeking to evacuate more civilians from Mariupol have not yet reached the agreed pickup point, the city council said, contradicting an earlier report that they had left the devastated port city in southeast Ukraine.

The city council urged the evacuees to remain in place. It was not immediately clear what had caused the delay.

Earlier, Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to Mariupol's mayor, had said the buses had left Mariupol but he later put out a message that also confirmed the hitch in the planned evacuation.

Poland ready to help Germany stop using Russian oil, says minister

Poland is ready to help Germany wean itself off Russian oil, its climate minister said, adding that she hoped a European Union embargo could come into force before the end of the year. 

Poland advocates tough measures against Russia, but with many EU countries heavily reliant on Moscow for their energy needs the bloc has appeared split on how sanctions should be enforced.

"As Poland, we are ready to support Germany's ambitions of de-russification with our refinery in Gdansk," minister Anna Moskwa said. 

Evacuation of civilians begins from Ukrainian steel plant

Ukrainian civilians holed up inside a steel plant in Mariupol under siege by Russian forces nearly two months began evacuating over the weekend and people sheltering elsewhere in the city were to leave, local officials said.

Video posted online by Ukrainian forces showed elderly women and mothers with small children climbing over a steep pile of rubble from the sprawling Azovstal steel plant and eventually boarding a bus.

More than 100 civilians were expected to arrive in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Türkiye's president to 'most probably' have meeting with Putin this week

Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he will "most probably" have a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this week.

Türkiye's capital Ankara or Istanbul "would be the solution point for steps to be taken" to ease tension in eastern Ukraine, Erdogan told reporters after offering Eid prayers in Istanbul.

Quarter of Russia troops in Ukraine “combat ineffective”: British military 

The British military believes more than a quarter of all troops Russia deployed for its offensive in Ukraine are now “combat ineffective.”

The comment came as part of a daily briefing on Twitter the British Defense Ministry has offered about the ongoing conflict.

The British military believes Russia committed over 120 so-called “battalion tactical groups” into the campaign since February, which represents 65 percent of all of Moscow’s combat strength.

Ukraine may lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain: Zelenskyy

Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain due to Russia's blockade of its Black Sea ports, triggering a food crisis that will affect Europe, Asia and Africa, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

"Russia does not let ships come in or go out, it is controlling the Black Sea," Zelenskyy told the Australian news programme 60 Minutes. "Russia wants to completely block our country's economy."

Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and other food products and also of metals. 

Ukraine to evacuate more civilians from besieged Mariupol

Ukrainian authorities are planning to evacuate more civilians from Mariupol, after dozens were finally brought to safety following weeks trapped under heavy fire in the strategic port city's Azovstal steel complex.

The plant has endured a Russian blockade since Moscow's assault on February 24, with stories of the harsh conditions in besieged Mariupol horrifying the world as an offensive which has seen thousands killed and millions displaced entered its third month.

The head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration has said the evacuation would begin at 7:00 am local time (0400 GMT). One Russian news report put the number of civilians still in the steel plant at more than 500.

Zelenskyy calls Pelosi visit 'powerful' US signal

Ukraine's president has described his hours-long weekend meeting with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kiev as a "powerful" signal of support in a difficult time.

Zelenskyy said his meeting with Pelosi included discussions of defence supplies to Ukraine, financial support and sanctions against Russia.

Zelenskyy 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."

Ukrainian commander: Russia resumes shelling

A Ukrainian military officer has said that Russian forces have resumed their shelling of a steel plant in the port city Mariupol immediately after the partial evacuation of civilians.

Ukrainian National Guard brigade commander Denys Shlega said the shelling began as soon as rescue crews ceased evacuating civilians at the Azovstal steel mill.

Shlega said that at least one more round of evacuations is needed to clear civilians from the plant. He said dozens of small children remain in bunkers below the industrial facilities.

Explosions in Russian region bordering Ukraine, no casualties 

Two explosions have taken place in the early hours on Monday in Belgorod, the southern Russian region bordering Ukraine, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the region's governor wrote in a social media post.

"There were no casualties or damage," Gladkov wrote.

Commander glad for steel mill evacuations

Sviastoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, which is helping defend the last section of Mariupol not occupied by the Russians, said he was glad evacuations had begun.

Palamar hoped the evacuations from the Azovstal steel mill continue until everyone in the plant, civilians and soldiers, had gotten out. It's been difficult even to reach some of the wounded inside the plant, he told The Associated Press in an interview from Mariupol.

"There's rubble. We have no special equipment. It's hard for soldiers to pick up slabs weighing tons only with their arms," he said. The Azovstal plant is strewn with mines, rockets, artillery shells and unexploded cluster ordnance, he said.

For live updates from Sunday (May 1), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies