Ukraine news - live: Mariupol steelworks shelling resumes as doctors describe dire bunker conditions

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Russia has reportedly resumed shelling of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol following the evacuation of dozens of civilians from the site, a Ukrainian official said.

The United Nations had conducted a “safe passage operation” for civilians in the steelworks, which was serving as the last-remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the city of 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.

Key points

  • First groups of civilians evacuated from near Mariupol steelworks

  • Zelensky urges Russian soldiers not to ‘perish on our land'

  • Russia’s infowar ‘being waged from inside an old gun factory'

  • At least 20 civilians leave besieged Mariupol steelworks

  • Nancy Pelosi meets Volodymyr Zelensky in surprise trip to Kyiv

Watch: Ukrainians denounce dire conditions in Mariupol bunkers

11:45 , Holly Bancroft

‘Our resources are extremely limited. Men are literally dying before our eyes’, says a doctor from one of Mariupol bunkers.

Soldiers and wounded there are slowly running out of supplies and many are in desperate need of medical attention.

Watch the full video article here:

Russian rocket strike hits bridge in southwest Ukraine - reports

11:20 , Holly Bancroft

A Russian rocket strike has hit a strategically important bridge in southwest Ukraine, local authorities have said.

The bridge, which runs across the Bniester estuary in the Odesa region, had already been hit twice, Reuters reported.

It provides the only road and rail link on Ukrainian territory to a large southern section of the Odesa region.

The strike was reported by Serhiy Bratchuk, the Odesa regional administration’s spokesperson.

Watch: Civilians emerge from Mariupol steelworks

10:54 , Holly Bancroft

Russia resumed shelling of steelworks after evacuation - mayor’s aide says

10:32 , Holly Bancroft

Russia reportedly resumed shelling of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol after dozens of civilans were evacuated from the site, an aide to the city’s mayor has said.

Petro Andryushchenko told Ukrainian television: “Yesterday, as soon as the buses left Azovstal with the evacuees, new shelling began immediately.”

Buses evacuating more civilians from the city left on Monday morning, however they were not from the steelworks.

An unknown number of civilians and fighters reportedly remain trapped at Azovstal.

Israel hits out at Russia over Lavrov’s Nazism remarks about Zelensky

10:17 , Holly Bancroft

Israel has condemned the Russian foreign minister’s comments about Nazism and antisemitism as “unforgiveable”.

Israel has summoned the Russian ambassador in response and said that the remarks blamed Jews for their own murder in the Holocaust.

Mr Lavrov had justified Vladimir Putin’s call to “denazify” Ukraine by arguing that Volodymyr Zelensky could still be a Nazi even though he had jewish ancestry.

“So what if Zelensky is Jewish?”, he said. “The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood. Some of the worst antisemites are Jews.”

Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid called the comments “unforgivable and scandalous and a horrible historical error.”

“The Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust,” he said.

“The lowest level of racism against Jews is to blame Jews themselves for antisemitism.”

Holocause memorial Yad Vashem said in a statement: “Lavrov is propagating the inversion of the Holocaust - turning the victims into the criminals on the basis of promoting a completely unfounded claim that Hitler was of Jewish descent.

“Equally serious is calling the Ukrainians in general, and president Zelensky in particular, Nazis. This, among other things, is a complete distortion of the history and an affront to the victims of Nazism.”

 (AP)
(AP)

Russia trying to block Ukraine’s economy - Zelensky said

10:01 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain due to Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea ports, Reuters has reported.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday: “Russia does not let ships come in or go out, it is controlling the Black Sea. Russia wants to completely block our country’s economy.”

Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and a blockage could trigger a food crisis in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe.

 (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
(SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Hitler also had Jewish blood’, says Russia’s foreign minister in horrific attack on Zelensky

09:45 , Holly Bancroft

Justifying Vladimir Putin’s call to “denazify” Ukraine, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has argued that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewish ancestry does not matter, writes Alisha Rahaman Sarkar.

“So what if Zelensky is Jewish? The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Mr Lavrov said in an interview with an Italian television on Sunday. “Some of the worst antisemites are Jews.”

Read the full story here:

So what if Zelensky is Jewish, even Hitler had Jewish blood: Russian foreign minister

Hungary opposes any EU embargo on Russian oil and gas

09:30 , Holly Bancroft

Hungary has reiterated its opposition to any European Union embargo on Russian oil and gas imports.

A spokesperson for the Hungarian government, Zoltan Kovacs, said on Monday: “The Hungarian stance regarding any oil and gas embargo has not changed: we do not support them.”

The comments come as the European Union leans towards a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year.

Denmark to reopen embassy in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv

09:10 , Holly Bancroft

Denmark will reopen its embassy in Ukraine today following its closure immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Danish foreign ministry have said.

Foreign minister Jeppe Kofod told the Danish broadcaster DR: “It’s a very strong symbol of the Danish support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people that today we are reopening the doors to the Danish embassy.”

France, the US and the UK have already announced that they are moving their embassies back to the capital.

Finland will decide on Nato membership on 12 May - reports

08:45 , Holly Bancroft

Finland will decide whether or not to apply for Nato membership on 12 May, accordingn to Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.

Citing anonymous government sources, the paper reported that the decision to join the defensive alliance will come in two steps on the day.

First, Finnish president Sauli Niinisto will announce his approval for the country joining Nato, the paper reported.

Then parliamentary groups will reportedly give their approval for the application.

Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister (AP)
Sanna Marin, Finland’s prime minister (AP)

Mariupol civilians evacuated from Azovstal steel works

08:21 , Holly Bancroft

In case you missed it..

Civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol and are expected to head to both Russia-controlled and Ukraine-controlled territory after weeks under seige.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said a large group is heading to Zaporizhzia, which Ukraine is mainly in control of.

He tweeted: “The first group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area. Tomorrow [Monday] we’ll meet them in Zaporizhzia. Grateful to our team! Now they, together with the UN, are working on the evacuation of other civilians from the plant.”

Russia said dozens of civilians have arrived in a village that it controls.

 (VIA REUTERS)
(VIA REUTERS)
 (VIA REUTERS)
(VIA REUTERS)

Russia wants to completely block Ukraine’s economy - Zelensky

08:00 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of wanting to stall the besieged country’s economy by imposing a blockade in the Black Sea.

“Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain due to Russia’s Black Sea blockade. Russian wants to completely block our country’s economy,” Mr Zelensky said on Monday.

Ukrainian woman gives birth to twins early after husband killed in war

07:50 , Arpan Rai

A Ukrainian woman gave birth to twin boys prematurely a day after learning her husband was killed by a Russian sniper, according to a news report.

The 34-year-old mother, Viktoria Nazarenko, started having contractions after she was informed of the death of her husband, sergeant Bogdan Nazarenko, when he had already been buried.

“It’s all I have left from him - my babies and my memories, which will never be erased,” Ms Nazarenko told Sky News.

Ms Nazarenko said her family found out about her husband’s death some three weeks earlier but kept it secret, fearing the impact the bad news would have on her. She was 35 weeks pregnant when she was finally informed.

“He did nothing wrong. He didn’t even get to see his babies. He didn’t take them in his arms,” the woman said.

Her husband was shot dead on 14 March in the Chernihiv region, while he was on a mission with the state border guards service, Sky reported.

Missile threat from Belarus remains, says Ukraine

06:52 , Arpan Rai

The Ukrainian armed forces on Monday said that a continuous threat of missile strikes from Belarus looms.

“The threat of missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure from the territory of the republic of Belarus by the Russian enemy remains,” the armed forces said in a statement, adding that Russian forces have continued with “full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine and offensive operations in the eastern operational zone”.

“Intensified administrative-police and counter-intelligence regimes have been established in the Russian Bryansk region bordering Ukraine,” the forces said.

Shelling continued in the city of Kharkiv and settlements of Uda and Prudyanka.

Russia’s most elite units suffered massive attrition, claims UK

06:23 , Arpan Rai

Assessing Russia’s depleted military strength, the British defence ministry on Monday said that more than 40 battalion tactical groups sent by Moscow are now combat ineffective.

“At the start of the conflict, Russia committed over 120 battalion tactical groups, approximately 65 per cent of its entire ground combat strength. It is likely that more than a quarter of these units have now been rendered combat ineffective,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

“Some of Russia’s most elite units, including the VDV Airborne Forces, have suffered the highest levels of attrition. It will probably take years for Russia to reconstitute these forces,” the ministry said.

'Real concern' Putin may resort to WMD if Ukraine keeps winning

05:48 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine’s continued military success against Russian troops could increase the chances of Vladimir Putin using nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict, says Bob Menendez, chair of the US Senate’s foreign relations committee.

“Well, one of my concerns is that ironically, the more success that the Ukrainians have, the greater the risk that Putin will do something because he’s losing and has to save face at home,” the senator said.

“And so the potential of a chemical, biological or tactical nuclear weapon may grow as a result of that.”

Mr Menendez called the threat of Russian weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) — particularly Moscow’s chemical weapons stockpiles — “a real concern” because Mr Putin has shown no qualms about using such weapons in the past.

Read the full report here:

Senator Menendez: ‘Real concern’ Ukrainian success could raise chance of nuke attack

‘Ghost of Kyiv’ fighter pilot a myth, says Ukraine

05:37 , Arpan Rai

The tales surrounding the “Ghost of Kyiv” were put to rest over the weekend after the Ukrainian authorities admitted that the military figure was a mythical creation.

“The Ghost of Kyiv is a super-hero legend whose character was created by Ukrainians!” Ukraine‘s air force said on Facebook.

Legends of the Ghost of Kyiv started surfacing within days of the Russian invasion, with social media users claiming an anonymous fighter pilot was taking down multiple Russian air targets single-handedly.

Reports later wrongly identified major Stepan Tarabalka as the “Ghost of Kyiv” but said he had died on 13 March during air combat.Tarabalka was awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine, the besieged country’s air force said last month.

“The information about the death of the The Ghost of (hashtag)Kyiv is incorrect. The (hashtag)GhostOfKyiv is alive, it embodies the collective spirit of the highly qualified pilots of the Tactical Aviation Brigade who are successfully defending Kyiv and the region,” the Ukrainian air force said on Twitter.

‘Shady troll farm’ waging pro-Russia infowar from old arms factory, UK-funded research alleges

05:30 , Emily Atkinson

Online trolls are being ordered to spread information in support of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine from an old arms factory in Russia, new research funded by the UK government suggests.

The new study details how the Russian president’s regime is using openly-recruited trolls to post pro-Moscow messages on social media and in the comment sections of news websites.

The social media accounts targeted by the trolls include those of British prime minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the researchers said.

My colleague Lamiat Sabin has the story:

‘Shady troll farm’ waging pro-Russia infowar from old arms factory, research alleges

Jill Biden to meet Ukrainian refugees this week in Romania and Slovakia

05:12 , Arpan Rai

First lady Jill Biden will meet with US service members and embassy personnel, Ukrainian civilians who have been displaced in the invasion, humanitarian aid workers and teachers on her visit to Romania and Slovakia from 5-9 May.

She will be meeting the US military service members in Romania’s Mihail Kogalniceau Airbase on 6 May before setting out for Bucharest where she will meet Romanian government officials, US embassy staff, humanitarian aid workers and teachers working with displaced Ukrainian children, her office said.

Marking Mother’s Day on Sunday, the first lady will meet Ukrainian mothers and children who fled their homes in Ukraine after Russia launched a full-scale invasion in the country.

Ms Biden will also visit the Slovakian cities of Bratislava, Kosice and Vysne Nemecke, where she will meet with government officials, refugees and aid workers.

First evacuees from Mariupol steel plant to arrive in Zaporizhzhia today

05:00 , Arpan Rai

The first group of civilians evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant will reach southeastern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia this morning, president Volodymyr Zelensky said as he welcomed the functioning of a corridor to safety.

“Today, for the first time in all the days of the war, this vital corridor has started working. For the first time there were two days of real ceasefire on this territory. More than a hundred civilians have already been evacuated - women and children first of all. Who were fleeing hostilities there. At Azovstal,” Mr Zelensky said in a video message on late Sunday.

He added: “Given all the complexities of the process, the first evacuees will arrive in Zaporizhzhia tomorrow morning. Hopefully this doesn’t fail. Our team will meet them there.

“I hope that tomorrow all the necessary conditions will be met to continue the evacuation of people from Mariupol. We plan to start at 8am,” the Ukrainian president said.

Ukrainian commander welcomes evacuations from Azovstal steel plant

04:40 , Arpan Rai

The deputy commander of the Azov regiment, Sviastoslav Palamar, said he was glad that evacuations from the last section of Mariupol had begun as it did not make sense to “continue carrying on this massacre”.

“The best solution in this situation is our evacuation. Does it make a sense to continue carrying on this massacre?” Palamar said.

The sprawling steel plant represents the last major section of battered Mariupol not held by the Russian forces who are otherwise occupying the port city.

Evacuations of around 100 civilians were carried out on Sunday and the deputy commander said he is hoping the operations would continue till everyone — including soldiers — is evacuated from the plant.

It had been a challenge to reach some of the wounded inside the plant, he said.

“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. Mines, rockets, artillery shells and unexploded cluster ordnance cover the the Azovstal plant, he said.

Watch: Civilians evacuated from Azovstal plant in Ukraine’s Mariupol

04:30 , Emily Atkinson

Four civilians dead in Donetsk region, says governor

03:30 , Emily Atkinson

Four civilians have been killed and another 11 people have been injured by Russian shelling in Donetsk, a Ukrainian regional governor has said.

Reuters adds:The deaths and seven of the injuries were in the northern city of Lyman, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Telegram post. One person also died in the city of Bakhmut from injuries received in the Luhansk region, he said.

In the same post, Kyrylenko said that it was impossible to determine the number of victims in the bombed-out port city of Mariupol and the town of Volnovakha, which is controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists.

02:30 , Emily Atkinson

Here are some images of the partial evacuation of civilians out of the Azostal steel plant in Mariupol on Sunday:

 (VIA REUTERS)
(VIA REUTERS)
 (VIA REUTERS)
(VIA REUTERS)
 (VIA REUTERS)
(VIA REUTERS)

Germany: Quitting Russian oil by late summer is 'realistic'

01:30 , Emily Atkinson

Germany says it’s making progress on weaning itself off Russian fossil fuels and expects to be fully independent of Russian crude oil imports by late summer.

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said Sunday that Europe’s largest economy has reduced the share of Russian energy imports to 12% for oil, 8% for coal and 35% for natural gas. Germany has been under strong pressure from Ukraine and other nations in Europe to cut energy imports from Russia that are worth billions of euros, which help fill Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s war chest.

“All these steps that we are taking require an enormous joint effort from all actors and they also mean costs that are felt by both the economy and consumers,” Habeck said in a statement. “But they are necessary if we no longer want to be blackmailed by Russia.”

Germany: Quitting Russian oil by late summer is 'realistic'

Russia ‘waging war of extermination’, Zelensky insists

Monday 2 May 2022 00:30 , Emily Atkinson

President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Moscow of waging “a war of extermination,” saying Russian shelling had hit food, grain and fertilizer warehouses, and residential neighborhoods in the Kharkiv, Donbas and other regions.

He said: “What could be Russia‘s strategic success in this war? Honestly, I do not know. The ruined lives of people and the burned or stolen property will give nothing to Russia.”

Watch: Nancy Pelosi meets Ukraine’s Zelensky in Kyiv

Sunday 1 May 2022 23:30 , Emily Atkinson

Zelensky calls US visit 'powerful' signal

Sunday 1 May 2022 22:43 , Emily Atkinson

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.”

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

Sunday 1 May 2022 22:31 , Emily Atkinson

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:

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

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

Sunday 1 May 2022 22:09 , Emily Atkinson

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.”

Lavrov says Victory Day not a relevant date for Ukraine operations

Sunday 1 May 2022 21:50 , Emily Atkinson

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.

In seeking “payback” for Moscow’s losses, it was reported earlier this week that top army officials were imploring president Vladimir Putin to replace his “special military operation” tagline with a cry of all-out war - which would permit the Kremlin to drum up the mass-mobilisation of its population.

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.”

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

Sunday 1 May 2022 21:32 , Emily Atkinson

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.”

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

Sunday 1 May 2022 21:20 , Emily Atkinson

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 (EPA)
The Azovstal steel plant is pictured on 29 April, 2022 (EPA)

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.

Why did Russia invade Ukraine? The conflict explained

Sunday 1 May 2022 21:00 , Thomas Kingsley

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:

Why did Russia invade Ukraine? The conflict explained

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

Sunday 1 May 2022 20:45 , Thomas Kingsley

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:

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

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

Sunday 1 May 2022 20:30 , Thomas Kingsley

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.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Nadal, Djokovic slam Wimbledon ban on Russian players

Sunday 1 May 2022 20:15 , Thomas Kingsley

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.

Pictured: Civilians arrive in a temporary camp after being evacuated from Mariupol

Sunday 1 May 2022 19:57 , Thomas Kingsley

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Sweden claims Russian military plane violated airspace

Sunday 1 May 2022 19:37 , Thomas Kingsley

Sweden said a Russian military plane violated Swedish airspace. The incident happened late on Friday in the Baltic Sea near the island of Bornholm.

In a statement on Saturday, the Swedish Armed Forces said a Russian AN-30 propeller plane flew toward Swedish airspace and briefly entered it before leaving the area.

The Swedish Air Force scrambled fighter jets which photographed the Russian plane.

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told Swedish public radio that the violation was “unacceptable” and “unprofessional”.

In a similar incident in early March four Russian warplanes violated Swedish airspace over the Baltic Sea.

ICYMI: ‘Shady troll farm’ waging pro-Russia infowar from old arms factory, UK-funded research alleges

Sunday 1 May 2022 19:15 , Thomas Kingsley

Online trolls are being ordered to spread information in support of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine from an old arms factory in Russia, new research funded by the UK government suggests.

The new study details how the Russian president’s regime is using openly-recruited trolls to post pro-Moscow messages on social media and in the comment sections of news websites.

The social media accounts targeted by the trolls include those of British prime minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the researchers said.

Read the full story here

Watch: Civilians evacuated from Azovstal plant in Ukraine’s Mariupol

Sunday 1 May 2022 19:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Germany: Quitting Russian oil by late summer is 'realistic'

Sunday 1 May 2022 18:45 , Thomas Kingsley

Germany says it’s making progress on weaning itself off Russian fossil fuels and expects to be fully independent of Russian crude oil imports by late summer.

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said Sunday that Europe’s largest economy has reduced the share of Russian energy imports to 12 per cent for oil, 8 per cent for coal and 35 per cent for natural gas. Germany has been under strong pressure from Ukraine and other nations in Europe to cut energy imports from Russia that are worth billions of euros, which help fill Russian President Vladimir Putin's war chest.

“All these steps that we are taking require an enormous joint effort from all actors and they also mean costs that are felt by both the economy and consumers,” Habeck said in a statement. “But they are necessary if we no longer want to be blackmailed by Russia.”

Read the full story below:

Germany: Quitting Russian oil by late summer is 'realistic'

Pictured: Civilians board a bus after being rescued from Mariupol steel works

Sunday 1 May 2022 18:33 , Thomas Kingsley

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)

Ukraine postpones evacuations from other parts of Mariupol to Monday

Sunday 1 May 2022 18:15 , Thomas Kingsley

A plan to evacuate civilians from areas of the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol outside of the Azovstal steel works has been postponed to 5am on Monday, Mariupol's city council said.

80 civilians evacuated from Azovstal - Russian defence ministry

Sunday 1 May 2022 17:55 , Thomas Kingsley

Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday that 80 civilians had been evacuated from the vast Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Russian news agencies reported on Sunday.

Those evacuees who wanted to go to Ukrainian-controlled regions have been handed over to representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ministry was cited as saying.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Schumer to target Russian oligarchs with provisions in $33 billion Ukraine aid bill

Sunday 1 May 2022 17:40 , Thomas Kingsley

US senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday he will add provisions to the $33 billion Ukraine aid package that will allow the United States to seize Russian oligarchs' assets and send money derived from them to Ukraine.

“Ukraine needs all the help it can get and, at the same time, we need all the assets we can put together to give Ukraine the aid it needs,” Mr Schumer said.

Full story: Senator Bob Menendez says ‘real concern’ Ukrainian military success could increase chance Putin will turn to nukes

Sunday 1 May 2022 17:25 , Thomas Kingsley

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez warned that Ukraine’s continued military success against Russia’s invasion could increase the chance that Vladimir Putin could turn to nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.

Although Mr Putin and his advisers had reportedly expected Russia’s military to quickly overwhelm Ukrainian defence forces, Nato officials now estimate roughly 40,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, wounded, or captured since the invasion began in late February.

Speaking to anchor Brett Baier on Fox News Sunday, Mr Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said he fears Mr Putin could turn to nuclear weapons to maintain his own standing at home if Ukrainian forces continue to inflict losses upon Russia.

Read the full story below:

Senator Menendez: ‘Real concern’ Ukrainian success could raise chance of nuke attack

Watch: ‘Real concern’ Putin could use nukes if Ukraine keeps winning, US senator Bob Menendez says

Sunday 1 May 2022 17:10 , Thomas Kingsley

Volunteers risk lives to save hundreds of pets from Ukraine since start of war

Sunday 1 May 2022 16:55 , Thomas Kingsley

Volunteers have risked their lives to rescue hundreds of pets from Ukraine since Vladimir Putin’s invasion started. Animal Rescue Ukraine, which was founded in early March, is one of the organisations bringing animals to safety in neighbouring countries. So far, it has transported 550 animals to a sanctuary in western Poland, where they await adoption.

The pets come from shelters across Ukraine and are found via telephone tip-offs or social media inquiries. Despite focusing on animals, the small outfit, which works in collaboration with a larger foundation called Centaurus, has also evacuated more than 3,000 people from Ukraine, including those in need of urgent medical attention.

Our reporter, Rory Sullivan, has the full story below:

Volunteers risk lives to save hundreds of pets from Ukraine since start of war

Asda chairman warns of ‘knock-on effect’ on food prices as Ukraine war impacts wheat and oil supplies

Sunday 1 May 2022 16:40 , Thomas Kingsley

Asda chairman Lord Rose would not predict how much food prices could increase but said "there is knock-on effect" due to the cost of raw materials and the impact of inflation.

Sunflower oil, wheat and oil prices have been affected by the war in Ukraine.

Lord Rose told the BBC Sunday Morning show: "We don't know what will happen to gas prices and whatever else and clearly that will be dictated by however long this war goes on for, but I am afraid there is knock-on effect for all raw materials.

"There is going to be a new level of costs for these raw materials and they won't go down. It is a new high and that is something that people are going to have to accommodate.

"What we are now going to have to think about is, is that going to have a long-term effect on inflation because then will we have a wage spiral, or won't we?

"The converse side of that is we could end up, if we have no growth in the business, having stagflation.

"They are both evil and the Government has got a very difficult and tricky road to navigate."

Greens still seek UK’s exit from Nato despite Ukraine war, says leader

Sunday 1 May 2022 16:25 , Thomas Kingsley

The Green Party would seek to move the UK out of Nato in the long-term once the conflict in Ukraine is over, its co-leader has said.

Adrian Ramsay told Sky News he did not want to "change structures in the middle of a conflict", but believes the UK should leave the military alliance in the future.

Asked on Sky News whether the Greens' position on Nato has changed as a result of the Ukraine conflict, Mr Ramsay confirmed it has not.

He said: "We have a long-term policy about reviewing what structures we need to have to build peace in the world and we have to remember this conflict has happened at a time when we are part of Nato, when we are still seeing nuclear weapons dominate.

"Of course we are not about changing structures in the middle of conflict and what we need to do at the moment is focus on how Ukraine can be supported in a wide variety of ways."

Mr Ramsay suggested the UK needs to focus on "peacekeeping and getting the parties to the table" as well as "stronger economic action".

Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Russia Ukraine War (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Zelensky indicates he will meet first Azovstal evacuees tomorrow

Sunday 1 May 2022 16:08 , Andy Gregory

A first group of 100 Ukrainian civilians being evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works will reach the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

‘Everyone here is kind and respectful’: The Ukrainian family sheltering a Yemeni student

Sunday 1 May 2022 15:54 , Andy Gregory

Koshmanivka village in Poltava Oblast is a far cry from the seaport city of Mukalla in eastern Yemen’s Hadhramout, reports Charlene Rodrigues.

It is the village where Yemeni aviation engineering student Khalid Bin Jaah, 29, is sheltering with a Ukrainian family after fleeing Russia’s bombings in central Kharkiv – a city which he loved and made his second home – after escaping Yemen’s brutal war in 2015.

Days before the Russian invasion, Mr Bin Jaah met a Ukrainian lady Halyna Kovalenko at the immigration centre in Sumy and after learning about his immigration situation they exchanged details.

When the war started on 24 February she told him to visit her mother in Koshmanivka village if he needed to find somewhere safe. Here is the full report about his time so far in Ms Kovalenko’s family home:

Meet the Ukrainian family sheltering a Yemeni student

Another group ‘evacuated from near Mariupol steelworks'

Sunday 1 May 2022 15:08 , Andy Gregory

A group of 14 more people have arrived at a temporary accommodation centre after leaving the area around the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's Mariupol, Reuters reports, citing one of its photojournalists.

Reuters photographs showed earlier on Sunday around 40 civilians arriving at the centre in the Donetsk village of Bezimenne.

Civilians who left the area near Azovstal at a temporary accommodation centre in Bezimenne (REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)
Civilians who left the area near Azovstal at a temporary accommodation centre in Bezimenne (REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

One injured in fire at Russian defence facility

Sunday 1 May 2022 15:00 , Andy Gregory

One person has been injured in a fire on a defence ministry facility in Russia’s southern Belgorod region, its governor has said.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said a local resident suffered minor injuries and his life was not in danger. There were no immediate comments from the Russian defence ministry.

Russia last month accused Ukraine of a helicopter attack on a fuel depot in Belgorod, for which Kyiv denied responsibility, as well as shelling villages and firing missiles at an ammunition depot.

Other Russian regions that share a border with Ukraine have also reported cross-border shelling incidents since Vladimir Putin’s invasion, amid some claims that Moscow could be planning false-flag attacks.

UN conducting ‘safe passage operation’ for civilians at Mariupol steelworks

Sunday 1 May 2022 14:47 , Andy Gregory

In a long-awaited humanitarian mission, the United Nations is conducting a “safe passage operation” for civilians from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said.

The operation began on Friday before arriving at the steelworks on Saturday morning, and is being coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Russia and Ukraine, the spokesperson told Reuters.

He said that no further details could be released so as not to jeopardise the safety of evacuees and the convoy.

Last Thursday, Vladimir Putin told Russian troops to blockade the area “so that a fly can’t get through”

Fire at defence ministry facility in Russia, officials say

Sunday 1 May 2022 14:29 , Andy Gregory

A Russian defence ministry facility in the country’s southern Belgorod region has caught fire, officials have said.

There was no immediate information about damage or casualties, the regional governor said in a post on Telegram.

Images posted to social media showed a large funnel of smoke rising above the ground.

Angelina Jolie taken to safety as air-raid siren sounds during Lviv visit

Sunday 1 May 2022 14:21 , Andy Gregory

Hollywood actor and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie was yesterday spotted in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said Jolie had come to speak with displaced people who have found refuge in Lviv, including children undergoing treatment for injuries sustained in the missile strike on the Kramatorsk railway station in early April.

Here is the moment she was taken to safety after an air-raid siren sounded during a visit to a refuge:

My colleague Ellie Harrison has more details here:

Angelina Jolie taken to safety amid air-raid siren in Lviv, Ukraine

UK hunger striker describes ‘surreal’ reunion with Ukrainian best friend

Sunday 1 May 2022 13:55 , PA

A hunger striker who secured a visa for her Ukrainian best friend has spoken of her relief after their reunion in the UK.

Kristina Korniiuk, 34, of Kyiv, was granted a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme and arrived at the Cambridge home of Rend Platings on Sunday, after a journey which took more than 24 hours.

Mother-of-one Ms Platings, whose house is painted in the colours of the Ukraine flag, said it is both "wonderful" and "surreal" to have her friend by her side.

Ms Platings, who went on hunger strike for 21 days after the visa application was made for her friend, said their reunion was "amazing".

Rend Platings (right) and her daughter Samantha embrace her Ukrainian best friend Kristina Korniiuk (Jacob King/PA Wires)
Rend Platings (right) and her daughter Samantha embrace her Ukrainian best friend Kristina Korniiuk (Jacob King/PA Wires)

Civilians arrive at temporary camp after ‘two groups’ allowed to leave area of Mariupol steelworks

Sunday 1 May 2022 13:38 , Andy Gregory

Russia’s defence ministry has now said that two groups of civilians were able to evacuate properties adjacent to the steelworks in Mariupol yesterday, where up to 1,000 civilians are seeking refuge with limited supplies alongside hundreds of Ukrainian fighters – some thought to be suffering with festering wounds.

According to the Tass news agency, the ministry said an initial group of 25 local residents left residential buildings near the Azovstal plant yesterday afternoon, followed by a second group of 21 people who left “with the onset of darkness” and were taken to the Donetsk village of Bezimenne.

Separately, Reuters is reporting that – according to one of its photojournalists – a group of around 40 civilians arrived today at a temporary accommodation centre in Bezimenne on buses with Ukrainian number plates, in a convoy with Russian forces and vehicles with UN symbols.

Civilians who left homes near the Azovstal plant in Mariupol walk with UN staff at a temporary accommodation centre in Bezimenne (REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)
Civilians who left homes near the Azovstal plant in Mariupol walk with UN staff at a temporary accommodation centre in Bezimenne (REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Inside Gazprom, the state within a state: The Russian energy giant that extends Putin’s power

Sunday 1 May 2022 13:20 , Andy Gregory

This week Gazprom’s outsized role in European affairs was highlighted after it cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, following their refusal to abide by Vladmir Putin’s demand that they pay their bills in Russian roubles.

Conspiracy theorists – frequently boosted by Kremlin media outlets – often attribute major world events to the secret machinations of giant energy companies seeking to build pipelines and maximise profits.

But there is perhaps no better example in world history of an energy company seeking to influence political power than Gazprom, a sprawling state-controlled holding company with dozens of subsidiaries, half-a-million employees, and tentacles across the world.

In this report on the Russian energy giant, The Independent’s international correspondent Borzou Daragahi hears of the moment one American diplomat learned the extent of Moscow’s willingness to bully other countries, during an attempt to convince an eastern European leader to forego gas from Gazprom in favour of an American-backed option.

Here is the full report:

Inside Gazprom, the Russian energy giant that extends Putin’s power

Pope brands Putin’s war a ‘macabre regression of humanity'

Sunday 1 May 2022 13:03 , Andy Gregory

Pope Francis has described Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as a “macabre regression of humanity” that makes him “suffer and cry”.

Speaking to thousands of people in St Peter’s Square for his noon blessing, Francis again implicitly criticised Russia, and called for humanitarian corridors to evacuate people trapped in the Mariupol steelworks.

“My thoughts go immediately to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city of Mary, barbarously bombarded and destroyed,” he said of the mostly Russian-controlled southeastern port city, which is named after Mother Mary – to whom the month of May is dedicated in Roman Catholicism.

“I suffer and cry thinking of the suffering of the Ukrainian population, in particular the weakest, the elderly, the children,” he said.

Pope Francis waves prior to his Sunday Regina Coeli prayer from the window of his study in the Vatican on Sunday (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves prior to his Sunday Regina Coeli prayer from the window of his study in the Vatican on Sunday (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images)

Pelosi says Zelensky gave ‘remarkable masterclass of leadership’ at Kyiv meeting

Sunday 1 May 2022 12:44 , Andy Gregory

Nancy Pelosi has praised a meeting in Kyiv with Volodymr Zelensky as “a remarkable masterclass of leadership” by the Ukrainian president.

Speaking to reporters in Poland on Sunday, the US House Speaker said she had been “dazzled” by the Ukrainian president’s expertise of all the issues at hand during their three-hour meeting on Saturday.

Kharkiv residents urged to remain in shelters due to ‘intense’ Russian shelling

Sunday 1 May 2022 12:28 , Andy Gregory

Residents in parts of Ukraine’s second-largest city have been urged not to leave shelters as a result of “intense shelling”.

Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram: “In connection with the intense shelling, we urge residents of the northern and eastern districts of Kharkiv, in particular Saltivka, not to leave the shelter during the day without urgency.”

He warned that they should remain in shelters even in the absence of air raid sirens.

A person rings the bell outside a burning building in Kharkiv on Saturday, following Russian shelling (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)
A person rings the bell outside a burning building in Kharkiv on Saturday, following Russian shelling (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

Ukraine to attempt Mariupol evacuation today

Sunday 1 May 2022 12:11 , Andy Gregory

An evacuation of civilians from the mostly Russian-controlled city of Mariupol could be possible today, local officials have said.

Mariupol’s city council and the local governor told residents who wished to leave for the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia to gather at an evacuation point at 4 pm local time.

As many as 100,000 people are believed to still be in the port city, including up to 1,000 civilians hunkered down with hundreds of Ukrainian fighters beneath a Soviet-era steelworks, which is the only part of the city not occupied by Vladimir Putin’s troops.

Zelensky aide hits out at Lavrov peace talk claims, says it’s time for Russia ‘to face the truth'

Sunday 1 May 2022 11:57 , Andy Gregory

A presidential aide to Volodymr Zelensky has hit out at Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s claims yesterday that an end to Western sanctions is being discussed in Moscow-Kyiv peace talks.

Dismissing this, Mykhailo Podolyak, claimed that “minister Lavrov often comments on things he isn’t personally involved in”, adding that, as Russia’s “occupation and violation” of Ukraine’s territorial integrity continues, sanctions against Moscow “will only increase”.

Apparently referring to Mr Lavrov’s comments, made to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, that “denazification” and “the status of the Russian language” are also on the negotiating agenda, Mr Podolyak accused Moscow of having “forever inscribed” these two terms in world history “with the blood of peaceful Ukrainians in Bucha, Hostomel, Kharkiv, Mariupol and other cities”.

“Now they are synonymous with Russian war crimes. It's time for them to face the truth,” Mr Podolyak said.

Nancy Pelosi hails Ukrainian courage at news conference in Poland

Sunday 1 May 2022 11:09 , Andy Gregory

Nancy Pelosi has applauded the courage of the Ukrainian people during a visit to Poland, hours after meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.

“We are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for everyone. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,” Ms Pelosi said.

The US House Speaker, who is second in line to the presidency, made the surprise trip to Kyiv alongside other members of congress, before travelling to Warsaw where she is meeting with president Andrzej Duda.

At a news conference in Poland, Ms Pelosi said the delegation brought Mr Zelensky “a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership”.

US Representative Jim McGovern warned that Russia’s war could have disastrous effects on the world’s food supply and consequently for poor people across the globe, calling Vladimir Putin’s invasion “a war against the world’s most vulnerable”.

“I don't think that Putin cares if he starves the world,” Mr McGovern added.

Volodymyr Zelensky meets Nancy Pelosi and other members of the US congress in Kyiv on Sunday (EPA)
Volodymyr Zelensky meets Nancy Pelosi and other members of the US congress in Kyiv on Sunday (EPA)

‘Enablers’ of oligarchs should be legally obliged to share info on suspected ‘dirty money’, expert says

Sunday 1 May 2022 10:54 , Andy Gregory

In an interview with The Independent, Bill Browder – who campaigned for the “Magnitsky” human rights sanctions – has warned that “the UK is still the world leader of attracting dirty money”.

The government’s Economic Crime Bill was rushed through parliament last month in a bid to “flush out” illicitly-obtained wealth, but Mr Browder is among anti-corruption campaigners who say the legislation contains several “loopholes”.

Home secretary Priti Patel has promised a second “follow on” bill – which Mr Browder says must put clear legal obligations on the “enabler community” of lawyers and accountants suspected of helping kleptocrats protect their assets to share information about their clients’ potentially illicit wealth.

“At the moment there is only reward and no risk,” he said. “If they risk paying fines or even going to jail they are less likely to assist [oligarchs] and more likely come forward with information.”

Our political reporter Adam Forrest has the full, exclusive report:

UK remains ‘world leader’ in hiding dirty money, says top sanctions expert

Satellite images show extent of damage to Azovstal steelworks

Sunday 1 May 2022 10:38 , Andy Gregory

Satellite footage belonging to Maxar Technologies appears to show the state of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, under which hundreds of civilians are thought to be seeking shelter.

Russia said that 25 civilians had left the plant yesterday, with roughly 1,000 civilians thought to remain with minimal supplies alongside hundreds of fighters, some of whom are claimed to be suffering with rotting wounds.

Russia claims to have struck at weapons supplied by US

Sunday 1 May 2022 10:19 , Andy Gregory

Russia's defence ministry has claimed to have struck at weapons supplied to Ukraine by the US and European countries, according to Reuters.

The ministry said it used high-precision Onyx missiles to attack a military airfield near Odesa, after Ukraine accused Moscow of destroying a newly-constructed runway at the city’s main airport.

Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko said Russia had used a Bastion missile, launched from Crimea.

Russia's defence ministry also said its air defence systems had shot down two Ukrainian Su-24m bombers over the Kharkiv region overnight.

Boris Johnson ‘more committed than ever to ensuring Putin fails’, No 10 says

Sunday 1 May 2022 09:55 , Andy Gregory

Boris Johnson has told Volodymyr Zelensky that he is “more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine and ensuring Putin fails”, according to Downing Street.

In a talk on Saturday, the prime minister told the Ukrainian president that the UK will “continue to provide additional military aid to give the Ukrainians the equipment they needed to defend themselves”, No 10 said.

The two leaders also discussed the progress of the UN effort to evacuate people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and Mr Johnson “offered the UK’s continued economic and humanitarian support”.

The UN has been attempting to broker an evacuation in the port city where some 100,000 civilians remain and up to 2,000 civilians and fighters are living beneath a Soviet-era steel plant.

UK ambassador ‘comfortable’ returning to Kyiv

Sunday 1 May 2022 09:35 , Andy Gregory

The UK’s ambassador to Ukraine has said she feels “comfortable” returning to Kyiv, despite Moscow’s threats of a “proportional response” against British backing for Ukrainian strikes behind Russian lines – hinting at possible strikes at British sites in the capital.

Melinda Simmons arrived in Kyiv late on Friday, following the announcement last month that the UK would be reopening its embassy in the city.

Ms Simmons told The Observer that while she was well aware of the risk of returning to the capital, it “absolutely feels like the right place to be”, adding: “I'm not minimising [the risk]. I'm not discounting it. You have to take it into account, but I’m still here.”

There are 27 ambassadors in Kyiv, she said, adding: “So that's quite a lot of diplomats to target. I am here with a heightened level of security protection and bearing in mind that potential risk, but for now I feel comfortable working under those circumstances.”

The UK and Nato flags flying on Britain’s Kyiv embassy on 24 January (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)
The UK and Nato flags flying on Britain’s Kyiv embassy on 24 January (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian Red Cross office bombed in Donetsk

Sunday 1 May 2022 09:13 , Andy Gregory

An office of the Ukrainian Red Cross in Donetsk has been bombed, the organisation has said.

It is said to be the eighth time one of its offices has been damaged or destroyed since Russia’s invasion began.

Germany’s Scholz rejects criticism of Ukraine weapons strategy

Sunday 1 May 2022 09:05 , Andy Gregory

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has rejected criticism that Germany has not shown leadership in western efforts to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons to repel Russia's invasion.

Mr Scholz is under pressure at home and abroad to supply Ukraine with heavy arms such as tanks and howitzers and support an immediate EU embargo on Russian energy imports.

“I take my decisions fast and in concert with our partners,” Mr Scholz told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “I find hasty actions and maverick German efforts questionable.”

In a U-turn this week, Germany approved the delivery of “Gepard” anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, a step polling suggests are backed by 55 per cent of Germans.

However, the decision did not help reverse public perception of Mr Scholz as being indecisive and lacking leadership, with a poll published in Bild am Sonntag finding that 54 per cent were unsatisfied with Mr Scholz’s handling of the crisis.

Exclusive: UK remains ‘world leader’ in hiding dirty money, says top sanctions expert

Sunday 1 May 2022 08:49 , Andy Gregory

Britain remains the “world leader” in hiding dirty money despite recent efforts to crack down on oligarchs’ illicit wealth, a leading sanctions expert has told The Independent.

Bill Browder urged Boris Johnson’s government to get to grips with the “enabler community” of lawyers and accountants in London suspected of helping kleptocrats from Russia and elsewhere protect their assets.

The Vladimir Putin critic – who campaigned for the “Magnitsky” human rights sanctions introduced by many western governments – said the UK government must now force so-called enablers to share more information with the authorities.

“The UK is still the world leader of attracting dirty money,” said Mr Browder. “The UK has a chance to close up a major, glaring loophole which attracts everyone to London to launder money.”

Our political reporter Adam Forrest has the full, exclusive report here:

UK remains ‘world leader’ in hiding dirty money, says top sanctions expert

At least half of Donetsk town abandoned in face of Russian shelling

Sunday 1 May 2022 08:39 , Andy Gregory

In the town of Lyman in the Donetsk region, where at least half the population has fled Russian shelling, around 20 elderly people and children clutching bags, some accompanied by pet dogs and cats, boarded a minivan marked with a sign reading “evacuation of children” in Ukrainian, the Associated Press reports.

“The liberators have come and have freed us from what? Our lives?” Nina Mihaylenko, a professor of Russian language and literature, told the news agency, in reference to the invading Russian forces.

Ms Zuev and her husband Aleksander reportedly opted to stay in Lyman, unwilling to leave the place they’d spent their entire lives.

“I am living not so well. There is a war here. They are shelling all the time. The windows have been smashed in our house. The missiles are in the yards,” the 68-year-old said. “It is frightening.”

The van reportedly sped off toward the city of Dnipro as explosions were heard in the distance.

Debris hangs on the branches of a blossomed tree after a house was hit by a shelling in Lyman (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images)
Debris hangs on the branches of a blossomed tree after a house was hit by a shelling in Lyman (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images)

Nancy Pelosi meets with Zelensky in Kyiv

Sunday 1 May 2022 08:17 , Andy Gregory

Nancy Pelosi has become the highest-ranking American leader to visit Kyiv, with a surprise trip in which she met with president Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom,” the US House Speaker said in footage shared by Mr Zelensky. “Your fight is a fight for everyone. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.”

Mr Zelensky “conveyed the need for continued security, economic and humanitarian assistance from the US,” Ms Pelosi said, adding that her congressional delegation “delivered the message that additional American support is on the way”.

The group from Washington will next head to Poland, where they will meet with president Andrzej Duda.

Russia should ‘confiscate assets’ of businesses from ‘unfriendly countries’, Duma chair says

Sunday 1 May 2022 07:47 , Andy Gregory

Russia should respond symmetrically to the freezing of Russian assets by some “unfriendly countries”, the chair of Russia’s state Duma, the lower house of parliament, has said.

“It is right to take mirror measures towards businesses in Russia whose owners come from unfriendly countries, where such measures were taken: confiscate these assets,” said Vyacheslav Volodin.

Civilians permitted to leave Mariupol steelworks, Russia and Ukraine say

Sunday 1 May 2022 07:38 , Andy Gregory

Kremlin-backed media has reported that 25 civilians – including six children under the age of 14 – have been permitted to leave the besieged Mariupol steelworks being used as a last Ukrainian stronghold in the city devastated by Russian attacks.

Ukrainian soldiers inside the steelworks put the number at 20 women and children. According to Russia, there are some 2,000 people still within the plant.

My colleague Lamiat Sabin has more details here:

Civilians leave besieged Mariupol steelworks

Russia intends to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson, says British military

Sunday 1 May 2022 07:00 , Shweta Sharma

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence said Russia intends to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term by announcing a transition to the rouble starting Sunday.

The MoD said Russia is trying to install a friendly administration in Kherson after it seized control of the city in March.

“Recent statements from this administration include declaring a return to Ukrainian control ‘impossible’ and announcing a four-month currency transition from the Ukrainian hryvnia to the Russian rouble. The Russian rouble is due to be used in Kherson from today,” it said.

“Enduring control over Kherson and its transport links will increase Russia’s ability to sustain its advance to the north and west and improve the security of Russia’s control over Crimea,” it added.

Biden praises Ukraine’s ‘free press’ during White House press dinner

Sunday 1 May 2022 06:31 , Shweta Sharma

US president Joe Biden on Saturday night praised journalists covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as the red carpet was rolled out to resume the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner.

As Mr Biden cracked jokes about its lower approval ratings, his age and his predecessor Donald Trump’s dislike for media, he said he respected all the journalists reporting from the war zone.

“I’ve always had respect for the press, but I can’t tell you how much respect I have watching them in these zones where they’re under fire,” he said.

“Imagine if we weren’t getting that information,” the president added. “It would be a different world.”

The event was attended by journalists, media executives, administration officials and celebrities - including Kim Kardashian and comedian Pete Davidson.

He said: “A poison is running through our democracy... with disinformation massively on the rise. You, the free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century. I really mean it.”

Russia’s infowar ‘being waged from inside an old gun factory'

Sunday 1 May 2022 06:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Online trolls are being ordered to spread information in support of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine from an old arms factory in Russia, new research funded by the UK government suggests.

The new study details how the Russian president’s regime is using openly-recruited trolls to post pro-Moscow messages on social media and in the comment sections of news websites.

The social media accounts targeted by the trolls include those of British prime minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the researchers said.

Read more about this story here

‘Shady troll farm’ waging pro-Russia infowar from old arms factory, research alleges

Russia says it killed 200 Ukrainian troops on Saturday

Sunday 1 May 2022 05:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia’s armed forces claimed to have killed 200 Ukrainian troops and hit 17 Ukrainian military facilities with high-precision missiles on Saturday.

It also destroyed a command post and a warehouse used to store rockets and artillery, Vladimir Putin’s military also said.

Air force strikes during the day destroyed 23 armoured vehicles, the Russian defence ministry also said in an online post.

The post made no mention of an attack on Odesa airport which the local governor said had been hit by a Russian missile, putting the runway out of action.

Zelensky says Russia is preparing refrigerator trucks for their fallen soldiers bodies

Sunday 1 May 2022 04:54 , Shweta Sharma

In a nighttime address, the Ukrainian president urged Russian troops to save their lives and give up fighting in war as Russian commanders are lying to them and already have refrigerator trucks prepared to store bodies.

“The Russian commanders are lying to their soldiers when they tell them they can expect to be held seriously responsible for refusing to fight and then also don’t tell them, for example, that the Russian army is preparing additional refrigerator trucks for storing the bodies,” Mr Zelensky said late on Saturday.

“They don’t tell them about the new losses the generals expect. Every Russian soldier can still save his own life. It’s better for you to survive in Russia than to perish on our land.”

He said Russia has been recruiting new troops “with little motivation and little combat experience” for the units that were gutted during the early weeks of the war so these units can be thrown back into battle.

The president said Russian commanders fully understand that thousands of them will die and thousands more will be wounded in the coming weeks.

Liz Truss says Russia’s ‘shady troll’ factory is spreading disinformation

Sunday 1 May 2022 04:37 , Shweta Sharma

The British Foreign Office on Sunday said Russia is churning out disinformation about the war in Ukraine on social media through its troll factory and targeting politicians across the countries.

It cited UK-funded expert research, saying it exposed how Kremlim’s disinformation campaign was designed to manipulate international public opinion.

"We cannot allow the Kremlin and its shady troll farms to invade our online spaces with their lies about Putin’s illegal war," foreign secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

"The UK Government has alerted international partners and will continue to work closely with allies and media platforms to undermine Russian information operations."

The foreign office said that research showed Russia was using messaging application Telegram to recruit and coordinate new supporters who then target the social media profiles of Kremlin critics, and span them with comments.

The targets of Russia’s campaign, it said, have been senior British ministers and other world leaders.

It said traces of the campaign have been detected across eight social media platforms including Telegram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.

Ukraine proposes China acts as guarantor to end the war

Sunday 1 May 2022 04:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukraine has proposed that China act as one of the guarantors of security to end the war with Russia, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview for Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

Dmytro Kuleba (Francisco Seco/AP)
Dmytro Kuleba (Francisco Seco/AP)

He said: “We used to consider the Budapest Memorandum an important security agreement for Ukraine, but unfortunately it did not bring real security to Ukraine.

“Now Ukraine is exploring the possibility of obtaining security guarantees from permanent members of the UN Security Council and other major powers, including China.

“Our suggestion for China to be one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s security, is a sign of our respect for and trust in the People’s Republic of China.”

Civilians leave besieged Mariupol steelworks

Sunday 1 May 2022 02:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Up to 25 civilians have fled a besieged steel factory in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians are reportedly still trapped inside.

The Azovstal steelworks, in southern Ukraine, is the only part of Mariupol that has still not fallen to the control of Vladimir Putin's troops.

On 20 April, it was reported that the site was heavily bombarded by Russian troops. Since then, people have been trapped under the rubble.

Kremlin-backed media reported that 25 civilians -- including six children under the age of 14 -- had left the plant, but reports did not state where they went to. Ukrainian soldiers inside the steelworks put the number at 20 women and children.

Elderly people were reportedly also among those that left.

Read the full story here

Civilians leave besieged Mariupol steelworks

Ukraine became ‘integral part of a united Europe’ - Zelensky

Sunday 1 May 2022 01:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Volodymyr Zelensky has outlined the conversations he has had with European leaders recently, claiming that Ukraine has become “an integral part of a united Europe”.

In his nightly address to Ukrainians, he detailed talks he has had with heads of state including Boris Johnson.

Volodymyr Zelensky (John Moore/Getty Images)
Volodymyr Zelensky (John Moore/Getty Images)

He said: “I spoke today with President of France Emmanuel Macron. On various areas of cooperation between Ukraine and France, especially on defense. Also – on cooperation on Ukraine's path to the European Union.

“We are moving towards the political formalization of what is already a fact: Ukraine has become an integral part of a united Europe.

“I also spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On defense support for Ukraine and other efforts necessary to end the war.

“I informed Boris about the current situation on the battlefield in the areas of active clashes and in detail about the situation in our east, in Mariupol, in the south of the country.

“All the leaders of the free world know what Russia has done to Mariupol. And Russia will not go unpunished for this.

“... I held talks with President of Switzerland Cassis. Thanked for the humanitarian support of Ukraine and Ukrainians. The mediating role of Switzerland in helping Ukrainians who found themselves in Russia was discussed.

“Preparations for the conference on postwar reconstruction of our state were also discussed.”

Kherson region ‘has no phone data and patchy call coverage'

Sunday 1 May 2022 00:01 , Lamiat Sabin

Mobile internet has been unavailable and call coverage is patchy in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine.

Kherson on the map (Google)
Kherson on the map (Google)

Kherson council wrote on Telegram: “In the Kherson region mobile communication and the Internet of all operators disappeared.

“There is no connection in Kherson, Kakhovka district, Novotroitsk and Chaplin communities.

“One of the leading specialists of the mobile operator Vodafone in Kherson [said] that this is unfortunately not an accident.”

Watch: Angelina Jolie visits medical centre in Ukraine

Saturday 30 April 2022 22:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Earlier, we reported that Angelina Jolie has been spotted in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The American actress and filmmaker was seen visiting a coffee shop in a residential neighbourhood.

Ms Jolie is a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

A video shows her at a medical institution in Lviv, where she talked to staff and local officials about the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on their lives.

She also met children caught up in the Russian missile strike on the railway station near Kramatorsk that took place at the beginning of April and killed over 50 people, according to the head of Lviv regional state administration.

Ukraine ‘regains control of four Kharkiv settlements'

Saturday 30 April 2022 21:40 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukrainian forces have regained control of four settlements in Kharkiv, according to the army.

The settlements in northeast Ukraine are Verkhnia Rohanka, Ruska Lozova, Slobidske and Prylesne.

But Russian occupying forces continue to carry out illegal actions in the occupied territories of the Kharkiv region, General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also said.

Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine (Google Maps)
Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine (Google Maps)

Vladimir Putin’s troops are forcibly deporting the population to the territory of the Russian Federation, and Russia is also spreading misinformation about the capture of Kharkiv, Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia – it said.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said: “Russian occupiers are launching missile and bomb attacks and artillery shelling of civilian infrastructure and residential areas in the settlements of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions.

“The invaders also continue to illegally detain Ukrainian citizens and torture them.”

Russia’s attack on Odesa runway resulted in no casualties

Saturday 30 April 2022 21:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia launched a missile attack on an airport runway in Odesa with the help of the Bastion coastal missile system from the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea, according to a local official.

Maxim Marchenko, head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration, said that there were no casualties.

Earlier, it was reported that the runway had been destroyed and it can no longer be used.

UK PM tells Zelensky he’s more committed to support Ukraine

Saturday 30 April 2022 20:01 , Lamiat Sabin

PM Boris Johnson told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that he was more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine against Russia.

This is according to a No 10 spokesperson following a call between the pair.

File photo of Johnson in central Kyiv with Zelensky (Reuters)
File photo of Johnson in central Kyiv with Zelensky (Reuters)

“He confirmed that the UK will continue to provide additional military aid to give the Ukrainians the equipment they needed to defend themselves,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Johnson also offered Britain’s continued economic and humanitarian support, they added.

Russia says it killed 200 Ukrainian troops in air strikes today

Saturday 30 April 2022 19:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia’s armed forces claimed to have killed 200 Ukrainian troops and hit 17 Ukrainian military facilities with high-precision missiles today.

It also destroyed a command post and a warehouse used to store rockets and artillery, Vladimir Putin’s military also said.

Air force strikes during the day destroyed 23 armoured vehicles, the Russian defence ministry also said in an online post.

The post made no mention of an attack on Odesa airport which the local governor said had been hit by a Russian missile, putting the runway out of action.

Angelina Jolie seen in coffee shop in Lviv, western Ukraine

Saturday 30 April 2022 19:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Angelina Jolie has been spotted in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The American actress and filmmaker was seen visiting a coffee shop in a residential neighbourhood.

Journalist Maia Pidhorodetska wrote on Facebook: “Nothing special. Just Lviv. Just went to drink coffee. Just Angelina Jolie. Just Ukraine is supported by the whole world.”

Ms Jolie is a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Other images show her visiting the central railway station in Lviv to meet Ukrainians who had fled from Pokrovsk, a city in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Russia continues to target Mariupol steel works, Ukraine says

Saturday 30 April 2022 18:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Russian planes have continued to launch air strikes on the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine’s military said.

The attacks were mainly targeting the Azovstal steelworks where troops and civilians are sheltering, it added.

Azovstal Iron and Steel Works (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
Azovstal Iron and Steel Works (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

In a Facebook post, the general staff of the armed forces also said the Ukrainian military had regained control over four settlements in the Kharkiv region.

Russia troops ‘regrouping to try gain control eastern Ukraine’

Saturday 30 April 2022 18:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia is preparing to intensify its attempt to gain “full control” of eastern Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian ministry of defence.

Oleksandr Motuzianyk, spokesman for the ministry, said Vladimir Putin’s troops continue to regroup in preparation of doubling-down on its offensive in the region.

A Ukrainian serviceman repairing a tank in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)
A Ukrainian serviceman repairing a tank in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Mr Motuzianyk said: “The enemy is conducting an offensive in the Eastern Operational Zone.

“The enemy's main goal remains the same: to encircle units of Ukraine's Defence Forces, to establish full control over the territories of the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson Regions, and to ensure the stability of a land corridor to the occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”

Pregnant soldier among those in prisoner swap with Russia

Saturday 30 April 2022 17:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Seven Ukrainian soldiers and seven civilians are returning to Ukraine after the country engaged in a prisoner exchange with Russia.

This is according to Iryna Vereshchuk, the deputy PM of Ukraine.

One of the Ukrainian soldiers was a woman who is five months’ pregnant, she said.

Ukrainian deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk (Creative Commons)
Ukrainian deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk (Creative Commons)

Ukraine and Russia have engaged in several prisoner swaps since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion on 24 February.

On Thursday, Ms Vereshchuk said that Russia had handed over 33 Ukrainian soldiers, including 13 officers, as well as 12 civilians in an exchange of prisoners of war with Ukraine.

Five of the troops exchanged on Thursday had been wounded, she said – but she did not say how many Russians were involved in the exchange.

Ukraine accuses Russia of hitting Odesa runway with missile

Saturday 30 April 2022 17:00 , Lamiat Sabin

A Russian missile has hit the runway of an airport in Odesa, according to Ukraine’s military.

The runway has been damaged and it can no longer be used, it added.

Russia accuses Ukraine of shelling checkpoint in Kursk region

Saturday 30 April 2022 16:40 , Lamiat Sabin

The governor of Russia’s western Kursk region said several shells were fired today 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.

Kursk region of western Russia (Google)
Kursk region of western Russia (Google)

Reuters could not immediately verify the report, and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent's website