Russia-Ukraine latest news: Dozens of civilians evacuated from Azovstal steelworks

·13 min read

Dozens of civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, even as the plant continues to be hit by ground and air attacks from Russian forces.

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that 50 civilians had been taken to safety and that the evacuation operation would continue today to coincide with a day-time ceasefire announced by Russia earlier this week.

However, Ukraine's armed forces accused Moscow of continuing its assault on the plant.

The self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said that around 50 civilians had been evacuated on Friday to a reception centre in nearby Bezimenne, in the pro-Russian separatist DPR.

Scores of civilians have been trapped for weeks alongside the remaining Ukrainian forces holding out in the bombed-out plant.

It comes as Russia prepares to hold a military parade on Monday marking its victory in the Second World War.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

02:51 PM

MoD issues Ukraine intelligence update

02:49 PM

Six missiles hit coastal city of Odesa

Six missiles hit the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa today, the spokeswoman for Ukraine's southern military command told the country's public broadcaster.

Natalia Humeniuk said four rockets hit a furniture factory in a residential area, while the other two struck an already damaged runway strip. She added that information on casualties was being clarified.

02:16 PM

Ukrainian military says drone strikes destroyed Russian warship near Snake Island

02:00 PM

Jill Biden hails 'amazingly strong' Ukrainian refugees in Romania

US First Lady Jill Biden has hailed the "amazingly strong" refugees from Ukraine as she visited neighbouring Romania today.

"You are amazingly strong," Ms Biden said after listening to mothers and children recount how they fled Russia's invasion of their country.

"We stand with you, I hope you know that," she added in a visit to a school in Bucharest, accompanied by her Romanian counterpart Carmen Iohannis.

More than 810,000 Ukrainians have entered Romania since the start of the war, according to UN figures released on April 29.

01:48 PM

Senior Russian lawmaker says US directly involved in fighting

Russia's most senior lawmaker has accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine, which he said amounted to direct US involvement in military action against Russia.

"Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country," Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

Washington and European members of the transatlantic Nato alliance have supplied Kyiv with heavy weapons to help it resist the Russian invasion.

However, the United States and its Nato allies have repeatedly said they will not take part in fighting themselves, in order to avoid becoming parties to the conflict.

01:24 PM

Russia begins clean up of Mariupol ahead of Victory Day next week

01:00 PM

Ukraine says it sank Russian landing craft at Snake Island

Kyiv said it has destroyed another Russian warship near the Black Sea's Snake Island, where Ukrainian forces were awarded for heroism after rebuffing Russian demands to surrender.

Ukraine's defence ministry said in a statement that an armed drone had destroyed a Serna-class landing craft and a missile defence system at the small island under Russian control.

It released grainy overhead footage on social media showing in black and white what appeared to be an explosion over a light craft with debris spilling outwards.

"The traditional parade of the Russian Black Sea fleet on May 9 this year will be held near Snake Island - at the bottom of the sea," the defence ministry added.

The military said in a separate statement on social media that the Bayraktar drone strike had also destroyed Tor-M2 anti-aircraft system being delivered to the island.

There was no immediate confirmation of the strike from the Russian defence ministry.

12:40 PM

Two Russian missiles hit border villages in northern Ukraine

Air-launched Russian missiles hit two locations near the Russian border in Ukraine's northern Sumy region on Saturday, local governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi said.

A border guard was wounded by the strikes on the Myropilske and Khotin municipalities, Mr Zhyvytskyi wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian forces fully withdrew from Sumy region in early April after advancing into parts of the region at the start of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

12:14 PM

Shelling destroys museum dedicated to famous Ukrainian philosopher

Russian shelling hit a museum dedicated to the philosopher and poet Hryhoriy Skovoroda in the Ukrainian village of Skovorodynivka, causing a fire that destroyed the building, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said today.

The overnight shelling hit the roof of the Hryhoriy Skovoroda Literary Memorial Museum, injuring a 35-year-old custodian, but the most valuable items had been moved earlier to a safer place, Mr Sinegubov said in a post on social media.

"The premises were practically all destroyed," he said.

Skovoroda, a famous 18th century philosopher and poet of Ukraine Cossack origin, spent the last years of his life on an estate of the local landowners in the village of Ivanovka, which was later renamed in his honour - Skovorodynivka.

11:52 AM

Odesa region targeted by Russian missiles

Four Russian cruise missiles have hit the southern region of Odesa, where authorities have a curfew in place until Tuesday morning.

Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian military's southern operational command, made the announcement as air raid sirens sounded throughout much of the country.

She said the strike targeted the city of Arcyz and no one was injured.

11:28 AM

Berlin police looking into device found at residence housing Russian media

Berlin criminal investigators and prosecutors are studying a device found and destroyed at a residential building housing Russian news agency staff in the city's Steglitz district, police said.

The device was found on Friday and investigators are looking into how dangerous it had been and who it was aimed at, a Berlin police spokesman said in response to an enquiry.

Russia's embassy in Berlin said a bottle had been thrown through a window of the apartment block on Friday evening, and that an improvised bomb had been found in the subsequent search, which it said German sappers had identified and deactivated.

The Russian state-run RIA news agency said it had journalists living in the block.

10:56 AM

Hungary compares Russian oil sanctions to ‘nuclear bomb’

10:32 AM

Red Cross official sees hope for more evacuations from Mariupol

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hopes the successful evacuation of civilians from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol will pave the way for more people to get out of the complex.

"Experience shows that a successful action helps further evacuations because now both sides have seen that it works. We hope that we can now build on this minimum of trust," Dominik Stillhart, the ICRC's director of operations, told Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

Mr Stillhart said it was "extremely frustrating" that it took weeks of painstaking work to get Russian and Ukrainian authorities on board and to work out logistic details so that combatants at every checkpoint knew when buses would drive by.

10:07 AM

Eastern city of Severodonetsk surrounded by Russian forces

Russian forces have almost encircled Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still held by Ukraine, a local official has said.

Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the Severodonetsk military administration, said on Ukrainian television that Kyiv's army is so far "repelling these attacks" but the Russians were pressing on.

He says around 15,000 people remain in Severodonetsk, which had a population of 100,000 before the war.

09:40 AM

Pictured: Damage to the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol

Pictured: Damage to the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol - Planet Labs PBC 
Pictured: Damage to the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol - Planet Labs PBC

09:24 AM

Moldova separatists report drone strikes near Ukraine border

Pro-Russian separatists in Moldova said their region had been hit four times by suspected drones overnight near the Ukrainian border.

Nearly two weeks of similar reported incidents in the Transnistria breakaway region have raised international alarm that Russia's war in Ukraine could spread over the frontier.

Transnistria's interior ministry released photos of craters that it said had been gouged by the strikes overnight.

It said nobody had been hurt in the attacks, which took place in the Rybnitsa district in the north of the region. Russian troops guard a military base with a large Soviet-era ammunition dump in the district on the Ukrainian border.

The ministry's statement did not say who was suspected of being behind the latest strikes.

Ukraine has repeatedly denied any blame for the incidents in Transnistria, saying it believes Russia is staging false-flag attacks to provoke war.

09:10 AM

50 more people evacuated from Azovstal steelworks

The territorial defence headquarters of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said that 50 more people had been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

Around 50 civilians had been evacuated on Friday to a reception centre in nearby Bezimenne, in the separatist DPR, whose forces are fighting alongside Russian troops to expand their control of large parts of eastern Ukraine.

Scores of civilians have been trapped for weeks alongside the remaining Ukrainian forces holding out in the bombed-out plant.

09:01 AM

On the trail of the British parts bound for Putin’s war machine

Britain became Europe’s most generous donor to Ukraine after Boris Johnson this week pledged an additional £300m in military aid. It added to a flood of Western arms helping Kyiv’s soldiers repel the advances of Putin’s army, which many feared would sweep the battlefield with little trouble.

As the “Arsenal of Democracy” backs Ukraine, however, researchers have warned a sinister parallel is also playing out: our technology has also been aiding Russia.

Academics at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) found Putin’s war machines are stuffed with Western-made components - many of them British.

They examined equipment abandoned by Kremlin forces during the conflict, including the feared T-72B3 battle tank, mobile jamming systems, some cruise missiles, drones and radios.

Read the full story from Matt Oliver here.

08:40 AM

‘It was a suicide mission’: life on the front lines for foreign fighters

Volunteers in Ukraine, including Britons, are dispelling any swashbuckling romantic allure about a noble cause that can still end horribly, writes Colin Freeman in Kyiv.

When he first headed for Ukraine as a foreign military volunteer, Matt Robinson imagined himself engaging the enemy on the Russian frontlines. Instead, his first taste of combat came not in the trenches of the Donbas, but on a bus driving through Poland.

The transport had been laid on by Ukraine’s International Legion, set up by President Volodymyr Zelensky for those who had answered his plea for help against the Russian invasion. Yet it quickly became clear that not everyone abroad was a highly trained ex-Para or Royal Marine.

“One Polish volunteer was heavily intoxicated and suddenly became convinced the bus was actually taking us all to Russia,” recalls Yorkshire-born Robinson, 39. “He was about to pull a knife on the driver. A bunch of us disarmed him, and at that point I decided that joining the International Legion might not be a good idea if someone like him had passed the initial screening.”

Read the full piece here.

08:20 AM

Russia fine tunes WWII Victory Day parade

A Russian RS-24 Yars ballistic missile rolls into Red Square during a dress rehearsal - Alexander Zemlianichenko /AP
A Russian RS-24 Yars ballistic missile rolls into Red Square during a dress rehearsal - Alexander Zemlianichenko /AP

Russia has held its final rehearsal for an annual parade marking the Soviet victory in World War II, where its military might will be showcased amid Moscow's campaign in Ukraine.

To mark the 77th anniversary since victory in what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War, thousands of soldiers will march across the Red Square in Moscow followed by tanks, armoured vehicles and missile launchers.

Monday's Victory Day parade comes on the third month of Russia's "military operation" in Ukraine despite predictions of a swift victory.

The parade became an annual event after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has gained prominence during Vladimir Putin's time in power as a display of military muscle.

08:14 AM

Russia says it destroyed US and European equipment in Kharkiv region

Russia's defence ministry said it had destroyed a large stockpile of military equipment from the United States and European countries near the Bohodukhiv railway station in Ukraine's Kharkiv region.

The ministry said it had hit 18 Ukrainian military facilities overnight, including three ammunition depots in Dachne, near the port city of Odesa.

08:00 AM

3D tech turns Soviet grenades into airborne tank killers

Drones are becoming the new snipers of the Ukraine war as Kyiv’s forces are using 3D-printing technology to give old kit a lethal second life, reports Dominic Nicholls.

Outdated grenades that nowadays pose more of a risk to the soldier deploying them than the enemy have been given a new lease of life thanks to plastic fins which have turned them into airborne killers.

Photos released by Aerorozvidka, originally a civilian company but now subsumed into the Ukrainian military, show Soviet-era grenades with newly produced fin assemblies attached.

The modifications mean the weapons are now highly accurate at destroying Russian tanks and other armoured vehicles by attacking the relatively less-protected top of the turret.

Read the full story here.

07:46 AM

Russia’s chief diplomat in Scotland condemns invasion in social media post

The Russian consul general in Edinburgh has condemned Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and called for more Western weapons to be sent to Kyiv in a social media post, report Joe Barnes and James Kilner.

"I categorically condemn the behaviour of the military special operation of the Russian Armed Forces against the sovereign, independent Ukraine," Andrey Yakovlev said, according to a screenshot of the now-deleted Instagram post.

"I fully support any assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces from EU countries."

Mr Yakovlev's presence in the Scottish capital has attracted a number of protests since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Feb 24.

Read the full story here.

07:38 AM

MoD: Conflict taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units

07:23 AM

‘Vladimir Putin’s superyacht’ seized in Italy

Italian authorities on Friday night impounded a multi-million pound superyacht that allegedly belongs to Vladimir Putin amid speculation it was about to leave the marina in which it has been berthed for months, reports Nick Squires in Rome.

Daniele Franco, the Italian economy minister, signed a decree late on Friday night that freezes any movement of the Scheherazade, a huge vessel that boasts spas, a cinema and helipads and is thought to be worth £500 million.

The minister acted after the Guardia di Finanza, Italy's finance and customs police, said they had found evidence that the vessel is linked to elements in the Russian government.

Without naming names, they said there were links between the yacht and Russians who have been hit with EU sanctions, a list that includes Putin.

Read the full story here.

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