Russia-Ukraine latest: More than one million Ukrainians ‘evacuated’ to Russia, claims Kremlin

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A man walks by an artistic depiction of Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Russian embassy in Bucharest, Romania. - AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
A man walks by an artistic depiction of Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Russian embassy in Bucharest, Romania. - AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

More than one million Ukrainians have been ‘evacuated’ to Russia since the start of the invasion, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has claimed.

The 1.2 million people evacuated include 120,000 foreigners and civilians from the Russian-backed regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Lavrov added that 2.8 million people in Ukraine have asked to be evacuated to Russia.

However, Kyiv has accused the Kremlin of deporting thousands of Ukrainians to Russia against their will.

According to the United Nations, around 5.4 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

02:58 PM

That's all for today

Thanks for following along with our live Ukraine updates. Here's a summary of Saturday's most important developments:

  1. Russia has been forced to merge and redeploy units from failed advances in the north-east regions of Ukraine, the UK's Ministry of Defence said

  2. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby accused Vladimir Putin of acting with "cruelty and depravity" in Ukraine, with Russia calling the US's remarks "offensive and unacceptable"

  3. The bodies of three men with their hands tied were found in a pit near Bucha, according to Ukrainian police

  4. Russia said that its artillery units had hit 389 Ukrainian targets overnight, including 35 control points, 15 arms and ammunition depots, and several areas holding Ukrainian troops and military equipment

  5. The German government will consider withdrawing perks given to ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because of his close ties to Putin

02:42 PM

Russia says checkpoint in Kursk region shelled from Ukraine

The governor of Russia's western Kursk region said several shells were fired on Saturday at a checkpoint near its border from the direction of Ukraine.

Speaking in a video posted on his Telegram channel, governor Roman Starovoit said that there were no casualties or damage.

The claim has not been independently verified.

02:39 PM

Ukrainian man sells souvenirs made of war wreckage

A Ukrainian businessman is turning scraps of wreckage from a downed Russian fighter plane into souvenir key fobs and selling them abroad to support the war effort.

"Many of my friends tell me '$1,000 - nobody will give you this for this piece of metal, it's crazy," said Iurii Vysoven, founder of 'Drones for Ukraine'.

The aircraft is a Russian Su-34 two-seater tactical fighter-bomber that the Ukrainian military claimed to have shot down over the town of Borodianka early in March.

In his office, Vysoven has an example of the infra-red thermal imaging drones that he buys for the Ukrainian army with the proceeds of the keychains.

"Now that we have raised a lot more money, we feel a lot more responsibility," he said. "My dream is this fund - we wouldn't need it anymore. My dream is to win, everyone safe."

02:19 PM

Pictured: Demonstrators stand against war at Russian embassy in London

Demonstrators protest opposite the Russian Embassy in solidarity with the Russian anti-war movement on April 30, 2022 in London. - Hollie Adams/Getty Images Europe
Demonstrators protest opposite the Russian Embassy in solidarity with the Russian anti-war movement on April 30, 2022 in London. - Hollie Adams/Getty Images Europe
Demonstrators protest opposite the Russian Embassy in solidarity with the Russian anti-war movement on April 30, 2022 in London. - Hollie Adams/Getty Images Europe
Demonstrators protest opposite the Russian Embassy in solidarity with the Russian anti-war movement on April 30, 2022 in London. - Hollie Adams/Getty Images Europe
Demonstrators protest opposite the Russian Embassy in solidarity with the Russian anti-war movement on April 30, 2022 in London. - Hollie Adams/Getty Images Europe
Demonstrators protest opposite the Russian Embassy in solidarity with the Russian anti-war movement on April 30, 2022 in London. - Hollie Adams/Getty Images Europe

02:05 PM

Ukraine accuses Russia of stealing grain

Ukraine's deputy minister for agriculture has accused Russia of stealing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain from occupied territory.

Taras Vysotskyi said he feared that Russia could steal the majority of the 1.5 million tonnes of grain in areas now under its control.

Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of grain, with shortages of the product being a hugely sensitive issue among Ukrainians, due to difficult memories of the 1930s famine ('Holodomor') which was caused by Soviet deportations of wealthier peasants and seizure of agricultural land.

01:51 PM

Two buses sent to rescue civilians from Popasna reportedly missing

Two buses sent to rescue civilians from a Ukrainian town under heavy attack from Russian soldiers have reportedly gone missing.

A military official from Popasna, in the Donbas region, said one of the two volunteer-driven buses had come under fire while still in the town.

Mikola Khanatov said there was no news about the second vehicle, a school bus driven by a teacher.

One of the volunteers, Galina Kroshka, said three buses had been sent to Popasna on Friday to help evacuate hundreds of civilians.

However, two buses failed to return to the town of Bakhmut.

“We’re very worried. Our buses didn’t come back, and we’ve had no contact with them since yesterday. We can’t go to Popasna ourselves until the situation is clearer,” said Galina.

01:32 PM

Mother escorts hundreds of Ukrainian refugees to safety in the UK

A British woman has successfully united hundreds of Ukrainian refugees with host families in the UK, by organising coaches to safely transport them from eastern Europe.

Harriet Asher, 39, from Hampshire, has so far helped to resettle up to 500 refugees by organising coaches from Ukraine to Poland, and then from Poland to the UK. She has also helped some travel by plane.

Harriet Asher (second right) has organised transport for women and children from Ukraine.  - Julian Simmonds/Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph
Harriet Asher (second right) has organised transport for women and children from Ukraine. - Julian Simmonds/Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

This week, she personally escorted 137 Ukrainians on a 36-hour journey from Lviv to Kent, to meet their British host families.

The mother-of-three said seeing the reunion on Friday after five weeks of planning and applying for visas was "incredible" and "like seeing a long-lost family reunite".

Read the full story here

01:18 PM

Macron promises to step up France's support for Ukraine

President Emmanuel Macron has said France will increase its military and humanitarian support to Ukraine, following a conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky.

Macron also spoke to Zelensky about his "strong concern" over Russia's bombing of Ukrainian cities and the "unbearable situation" in the besieged port of Mariupol.

The French president's office said the country's aid package to Ukraine amounts to "more than 615 tonnes of equipment, including medical equipment, generators for hospitals, food aid, shelter aid and emergency vehicles".

01:06 PM

Russia says risks of nuclear war must be kept to minimum

Russia believes the risks of nuclear war should be kept to a minimum and that any armed conflict between nuclear powers should be prevented, the TASS news agency quoted a foreign ministry official as saying on Saturday.

Vladimir Yermakov, the foreign ministry's head of nuclear non-proliferation, said all nuclear powers must stick to the logic laid out in official documents aimed at preventing nuclear war.

"Russia clearly follows this understanding," Yermakov was quoted as saying.

12:40 PM

Foreign Office investigates reports of Brit being detained by Russia

The Foreign Office is investigating reports that a British national has been detained by Russia after a video emerged showing a man in camouflage clothes being questioned.

In the video, reportedly shown on Russian television, the man appears to give his name as Andrew Hill.

He speaks with an English accent, has blood on his hand and his arm in a sling, and a bandage around his head.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is investigating the reports and also supporting family members.

12:35 PM

Three bodies with hands tied found in pit near Bucha

The bodies of three men with their hands tied were found in a pit near Bucha, Ukrainian police said on Saturday.

"On April 29, a pit with the bodies of three men was found in the Bucha district," a police statement said.

"The victims' hands were tied, cloths were covering their eyes and some were gagged. There are traces of torture on the corpses, as well as gunshot wounds to various parts of the body."

Kyiv's regional police chief Andriy Nebytov said the victims were "tortured for a long period of time" before each being "shot in the ear".

Bucha, a small town near Kyiv, has become synonymous with allegations of Russian war crimes after dozens of bodies in civilian clothing, some with their hands tied, and mass graves, were found there in early April.

11:57 AM

Russia condemns US accusation of 'cruelty and depravity'

Russia's ambassador to the US has rejected Pentagon spokesman John Kirby's accusation that Vladimir Putin has acted with "cruelty and depravity" in Ukraine.

Anatoly Antonov described Mr Kirby's comments as "offensive and unacceptable" and akin to "street insults".

"It has become a norm here that administration officials base their judgements on dirty lies of the Ukrainian authorities," Mr Antonov wrote on social media.

He also accused the US of not wanting the war in Ukraine to end so they could benefit from arms sales, saying: "What matters for John Kirby and his colleagues is that the American military-industrial complex receives additional income by getting rid of obsolete weapons from their warehouses".

11:45 AM

Talks between Kremlin and White House on strategic stability have 'frozen', Russia says

Dialogue between Russia and the US on strategic stability is formally "frozen", the TASS news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry official as saying on Saturday.

Vladimir Yermakov, the foreign ministry's head of nuclear non-proliferation, said those contacts could be resumed once Russia completes its 'special military operation' in Ukraine.

Yermakov said the Kremlin believed the US intended to finalise projects to deploy medium and short-range missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, but offered no supporting evidence.

"The emergence of such weapons in those regions will further worsen the situation and fuel the arms race," he said.

11:21 AM

Here's how Putin's propaganda is changing

Every day since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, I’ve been immersed in the world of Russian state TV, tracking the narratives that are pushed to viewers across the world’s largest country, writes Francis Scarr.

Nine years ago, when I began learning Russian at university, I’d not heard of either Vladimir Solovyov or Olga Skabeyeva, whose TV talk shows now dominate my working life as a media monitor.

In a studio with enormous screens showing images of purportedly fallen Ukrainian soldiers, guests stand in a circle. An enormous Z – the letter that now symbolises Russia’s invasion – is emblazoned on the floor.

Skabeyeva addresses the camera with relish: “The Ukrainians are crumbling in front of us! Everything our Western partners are telling us, the stories about how they’re winning the war, is an entirely pathetic attempt to support the Ukrainian army!”

Every day, for hours on end across Russia’s three main channels, Skabeyeva and her colleagues tell me that the conflict is going “according to plan” and that its objectives of “demilitarising and de-Nazifying” Ukraine will be “fully achieved”.

But the longer Putin’s “special military operation” drags on, the more often I hear excuses. This was meant to be a blitzkrieg lasting days. We’re now in the conflict’s third month.

Read the full story here

11:03 AM

We're closer to nuclear war than in Cuban Missile Crisis, says Khrushchev's great-granddaughter

Russia and the West are closer to nuclear war than during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev has said.

Nina Khrushcheva, an academic whose great-grandfather was leader of the Soviet Union during the 1962 crisis, warned the conflict in Ukraine is more dangerous because neither side appears prepared to "back off".

Speaking on the Today programme, Ms Khrushcheva said: "What really saved the world at the time was that both Khrushchev and Kennedy, whatever they thought of each other's ideology and disagreed with it, and didn't want to give in and blink first, yet when the threat appeared of a potential conflict of any kind they immediately backed off.

"We are closer to more issues, nuclear, than any other way, because I don't see today any side, particularly the Russian side, backing off, and that's what really scares me the most".

10:35 AM

Germany to reconsider Schroeder's perks over Russia ties

The German government will consider withdrawing perks given to ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because of his close ties to Vladimir Putin, Germany's finance minister said on Saturday.

Schroeder, who is a lobbyist for Russian gas, sparked outrage after he told The New York Times that he would only give up his links if Russia stopped delivering gas to Germany. He said he did not believe this would happen.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner told the Funke newspaper group that there should be "consequences" for Schroeder's refusal to sever ties with Russian groups and his failure to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.

It is "no longer conceivable that an office is made available to him paid for by the taxpayer", Lindner said.

As former chancellor, Schroeder is entitled to several offices in the German parliament and a budget for staff. The perks cost the taxpayer around 400,000 euros per year.

10:18 AM

Wives call for soldiers to be evacuated from Mariupol steel plant with civilians

Two Ukrainian military wives have called for soldiers to be evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol along with civilians.

In an interview with AP, Yuliia Fedusiuk, 29, the wife of Arseniy Fedusiuk, a member of the Azov regiment, said: "The lives of soldiers matter too. We can’t only talk about civilians. We are hoping that we can rescue soldiers too, not only dead, not only injured, but all of them".

Kateryna Prokopenko, 27, whose husband Denys Prokopenko commands the Azov regiment, called for a Dunkirk-style evacuation drive to rescue both soldiers and civilians.

"We can do this extraction operation... which will save our soldiers, our civilians, our kids,” she said. “We need to do this right now, because people — every hour, every second — are dying."

Kateryna Prokopenko, wife of Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment, right, and Yulia Fedosiuk, wife of Arseny Fedosiuk, another member of the Azov regiment, get emotional as they show photos of their husbands on their phones during an interview with the Associated Press in Rome, Friday, April 29, 2022.  - Alessandra Tarantino/AP
Kateryna Prokopenko, wife of Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment, right, and Yulia Fedosiuk, wife of Arseny Fedosiuk, another member of the Azov regiment, get emotional as they show photos of their husbands on their phones during an interview with the Associated Press in Rome, Friday, April 29, 2022. - Alessandra Tarantino/AP

09:47 AM

Villagers near Kharkiv freed from Russian occupation

After two months of "terrible fear" living under Russian occupation, several hundred people were evacuated from the village of Ruska Lozova, north of Kharkiv, as it was freed by the Ukrainian army.

"On the sixth day, the electricity and the water were cut off... We went back to our apartment after a week and there was an armoured personnel carrier under our window. We were very scared," Tatiana Efimovna, 69, said.

"There was a boy riding a bicycle, they (the Russian soldiers) stopped him, put a bag over his head and tied his arms. Someone asked what they were going to do to him... It was humiliation above all."

Svyatoslav, 40, said: "We were in the basements without food for two months, we were eating what we had."

An elderly woman who fled from the village of Ruska Lozova to Kharkiv rests at an evacuation point on April 29, 2022. - Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP
An elderly woman who fled from the village of Ruska Lozova to Kharkiv rests at an evacuation point on April 29, 2022. - Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP
Civilians exit a truck as they are evacuated from the village of Ruska Lozova to Kharkiv on April 29, 2022. - Sergey Kozlov/Shutterstock
Civilians exit a truck as they are evacuated from the village of Ruska Lozova to Kharkiv on April 29, 2022. - Sergey Kozlov/Shutterstock

09:31 AM

US condemns Putin's 'cruelty and depravity' in Ukraine

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has condemned Vladimir Putin's "cruelty and depravity" in Ukraine.

Speaking at a press briefing, Mr Kirby appeared to get emotional talking about the conflict, and said: "It’s hard to square his… BS that this is about Nazism in Ukraine, and it’s about protecting Russians in Ukraine, and it’s about defending Russian national interests, when none of them, none of them were threatened by Ukraine.

"It’s brutality of the coldest and the most depraved sort.”

"It’s hard to square that rhetoric by what he’s actually doing inside Ukraine to innocent people, shot in the back of the head, hands tied behind their backs, pregnant women being killed, hospitals being bombed," Mr Kirby added.

"I mean, it’s just unconscionable and I don’t have the mental capacity to understand how you connect those two things."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2022. - Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 2022. - Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

09:18 AM

Shelling in Russia's Bryansk region hits parts of oil terminal

Russian air defences prevented a Ukrainian aircraft from entering the Bryansk region on Saturday, the region's governor has said.

Russian news outlets cited the governor, Alexander Bogomaz, as saying: "There are no victims".

He said shelling hit parts of an oil terminal and its on-site logistics building.

09:09 AM

Ghost of Kyiv died last month in air battle

The fighter pilot known as the 'Ghost of Kyiv' died in an air battle last month after allegedly shooting down more than 40 Russian aircraft.

The Times report that Major Stepan Tarabalka, 29, was killed when the MiG-29 he was flying was shot down by Russian forces on March 13.

Ukrainian sources confirmed the identity of the pilot and his death to the newspaper.

The pilot's helmet and goggles will reportedly go on sale at auction soon in London.

He rose to international fame after the Ukrainian government claimed he had shot down six Russian aircraft on the very first day of the invasion.

08:59 AM

Ukraine accuses Russia of seizing 2,000 artworks in Mariupol

Ukrainian officials have accused Russian soldiers of seizing more than 2,000 artworks from museums in Mariupol and moving them to parts of the Russian-controlled Donbas region.

“The occupiers ‘liberated’ Mariupol from its historical and cultural heritage. They stole and moved more than 2,000 unique exhibits from museums in Mariupol to Donetsk,” the Mariupol city council said in a statement posted on Telegram.

The council said that the artwork included works by famous painters Arkhip Kuindzhi and Ivan Aivazovsky, as well as a handwritten Torah scroll and the Gospel of 1811, made by the Venetian printing house for the Greeks of Mariupol.

08:26 AM

MoD: Russia forced to merge and redeploy units from 'failed advances' in north-east Ukraine

Russia has been forced to merge and redeploy units from failed advances in the north-east regions of Ukraine, the UK's Ministry of Defence has said.

In the latest military intelligence report, the MoD suggests that Russia is looking to concentrate on certain geographic areas to simplify command and control, and to rectify issues that have plagued its 'special military operation' in Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

The report reads: "Russia hopes to rectify issues that have previously constrained its invasion by geographically concentrating combat power, shortening supply lines and simplifying command and control.

"Russia still faces considerable challenges. It has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from the failed advances in north-east Ukraine. Many of these units are likely suffering from weakened morale.

"Shortcomings in Russian tactical coordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements".

08:15 AM

The war in Ukraine, in pictures

A view of destruction in the city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 29, 2022. - Leon Klein/Anadolu
A view of destruction in the city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 29, 2022. - Leon Klein/Anadolu
Citizens from Mykolaiv arrive during their evacuation at the railway station in Odessa, Ukraine, on April 29, 2022. - Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu
Citizens from Mykolaiv arrive during their evacuation at the railway station in Odessa, Ukraine, on April 29, 2022. - Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu
Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.  - Andrey Borodulin/AFP
Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. - Andrey Borodulin/AFP

08:04 AM

Russia claims it hit 389 targets in Ukraine overnight

Russia said on Saturday that its artillery units had hit 389 Ukrainian targets overnight, including 35 control points, 15 arms and ammunition depots, and several areas holding Ukrainian troops and military equipment.

Russia's defence ministry said that its missiles had hit four ammunition and fuel depots.

The report has not been independently verified.

07:49 AM

Peace talks would be 'very difficult' if Putin succeeds in eastern Ukraine, warns former security chief

Sir Alex Younger, the former head of MI6, has said that peace talks would be "very difficult" to achieve in Ukraine if Vladimir Putin succeeds in his military aims in the east of the country.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sir Alex said: "Putin does not have a reverse gear, he never has. He underestimated the scale of what he was taking on, but he has now modified his approach, arguably now his objectives are more realistic and he is not going to give up.

"I think it's key for all of us to understand the long-term and intractable nature of the conflict that's taking place, and that is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people".

When asked what would happen if Russia start winning in eastern Ukraine, Sir Alex said: "It's clear that that is the Russian plan. They seek to essentially capture the Donbas, establish a land-bridge to Crimea, before any sincere engagement in a peace conversation. That is obviously the plan.

"It is clearly in our interests to ensure he is not in a position to enter any political discussion from a position of strength, and I think any progress the Ukrainian forces make in slowing him down or ideally stopping him will be positive news for us.

"If he does succeed militarily in the terms he has set out, there will then be a very difficult peace conversation, and I doubt that either the Ukrainian government or Western powers would be able to come to any form of sensible agreement with him".

07:36 AM

MoD: Russian units in eastern Ukraine 'suffering from weakened morale' amid failures

07:33 AM

Putin to declare all-out war to mobilise Russians as military chiefs seek 'payback' for invasion failures

Vladimir Putin is set to declare all-out war on Ukraine as his military chiefs seek “payback” for their invasion failures, according to Russian sources and Western officials.

Frustrated army chiefs are urging the Russian president to drop the term “special operation” used for the invasion and instead declare war, which would enable mass mobilisation of Russians.

When Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine at the end of February, Putin dubbed it a “special operation” and even barred Russian media from using the word “war”, thinking it would all be over in a few weeks. But more than two months later, the offensive has stalled.

“The military are outraged that the blitz on Kyiv has failed,” a source close to Russian military officials told The Telegraph.

07:21 AM

Nato involvement in Ukraine left Russia with 'no other choice' but to invade, says Kremlin

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the US and other Nato countries of using Ukraine as "one of the tools to contain Russia", with their involvement in the country having pushed the Kremlin to launch their 'special military operation'.

Speaking to China's Xinhua news agency, Lavrov said the military alliance's interference in Ukraine left Russia with "no other choice" but to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics and launch their invasion.

He said: "Over the past years, the United States and its allies have done nothing to stop the intra-Ukrainian conflict... they ‘pumped up’ the Kyiv regime with weapons, trained and armed the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions, and generally carried out the military-political development of the territory of Ukraine.

"They encouraged the aggressive anti-Russian course pursued by the Kyiv authorities.”

He also claimed that Nato countries are "doing everything to prevent" a ceasefire with Ukraine.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov holds a press conference in Moscow on April 27, 2022. - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov holds a press conference in Moscow on April 27, 2022. - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

11:58 PM

Today's top stories

  • Russia kidnapped paramedics rushing to save survivors of the Mariupol theatre bombing, the teenage daughter of a missing volunteer has revealed.

  • Ukraine warned on Friday that peace talks with Moscow were in danger of collapse and said Russia was pounding areas in the east as US lawmakers vowed to swiftly approve a massive new weapons package for Kyiv.

  • The war in Ukraine is a “stark reminder” that there is “no substitute for credible defence”, the Prince of Wales has said, in a strong statement to Britain’s military.

  • Russia staved off a default on its debt Friday by making a last-minute payment using its precious dollar reserves sitting outside the country, US Treasury officials said.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to destroy the Donbas and all who live there.