Moscow has focused on southern and eastern Ukrainian regions as Western nations have announced new round of military assistance to Kiev in fighting that enters its 73rd day.

The Union Jack flag is seen during a session of a parliament attended by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson via videolink, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kiev, Ukraine, May 3, 2022.
The Union Jack flag is seen during a session of a parliament attended by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson via videolink, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kiev, Ukraine, May 3, 2022. (Reuters)

Saturday, May 7, 2022

UK pledges additional $1.6B military aid to Ukraine

Britain said it would provide a further 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in military support and aid to Ukraine, making the pledge ahead of a planned video call by Group of Seven leaders with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The new pledge almost doubles Britain's previous spending commitments on Ukraine and the government said this is the highest rate of spending on a conflict since the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, although it did not give details of this calculation.

"Putin's brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine—it is also threatening peace and security across Europe," Johnson said in a statement.

Russia targets 18th century museum, leaves Zelenskyy 'speechless'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was speechless after Russian shelling destroyed a museum dedicated to the 18th century philosopher and poet Hryhoriy Skovoroda.

"Every day of this war the Russian army does something that leaves me speechless. But then the next day it does something else that makes you feel the same way again," Zelenskyy said.

Skovoroda, of Ukraine Cossack origin, spent the last years of his life in the village of Ivanovka, which was later renamed in his honour - Skovorodynivka.

'All women, children, elderly' evacuated from Azovstal: Kiev

Ukraine has said that all women, children and elderly civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the destroyed port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces are holding out against Russian troops.

"The President's order has been carried out: all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal. This part of the Mariupol humanitarian mission has been completed," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on social media.

The Azovstal steel mill is the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated port city and its fate has taken on a symbolic value in the broader battle since Russia's incursion.

No 'practical evidence' Russia plans to use tactical nukes: CIA 

The US Central Intelligence Agency sees no indications that Russia is preparing to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, CIA director Bill Burns has said.

"We don't see, as an intelligence community, practical evidence at this point of Russian planning for the deployment or even potential use of tactical nuclear weapons," Burns said. "Given the kind of saber rattling that ... we've heard from the Russian leadership, we can't take lightly those possibilities," Burns told a conference hosted by the Financial Times.

"So we stay very sharply focused as an intelligence service ... on those impossibilities at a moment when the stakes are very high for Russia," he said.

WHO stands with Ukraine, documents 200 attacks on health facilities

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has told Ukrainians from Kiev that the WHO stood by them in their conflict with Russia.

"My message to all the people of Ukraine is this," he said, speaking from the government media centre in the capital. "WHO stands by you."

WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan told the same news conference that the WHO had already documented 200 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine, and would pass its findings on to those who could assess whether crimes had been committed.

US directly involved in Ukraine fighting: Russian lawmaker 

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

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

Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament, the Duma, is a prominent advocate of Moscow's "special operation" in Ukraine.

Shelling destroys museum dedicated to famous Ukrainian philosopher - regional governor

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

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

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

Missiles hit Ukraine's coastal city of Odesa 

Several missiles hit the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa, the regional administration's spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk said in televised remarks. 

Bratchuk said the strikes hit the city after targets in the surrounding Odesa region had been hit by four missiles earlier in the day.

He did not give further detail about the new strikes, saying that the facts were still being established.

Ukraine braces for escalated attacks ahead of Russia's V-Day

Ukrainian troops solidified their positions around the nation’s second-largest city as Russian forces delivered more punishing attacks on an embattled steelworks in a bid to complete their conquest of the southern port of Mariupol in time for Victory Day celebrations.

As Monday's holiday commemorating the Soviet Union’s World War II victory over Nazi Germany approached, cities across Ukraine prepared for an expected increase in Russian attacks. 

Officials urged residents numbed by more than 10 weeks of fighting to heed air raid warnings. “These symbolic dates are to the Russian aggressor like red to a bull,” Ukraine’s first deputy interior minister, Yevhen Yenin, said.

ICRC official sees hope for more Mariupol evacuations

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hopes the successful evacuation of civilians from a besieged steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol will pave the way for more people to get out of the complex, a senior ICRC official said.

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

Russia says it destroyed US and European equipment in Ukraine's Kharkiv region

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

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

Ukraine army says shelling of Kharkiv continues

Ukraine's military has said Russia is continuing its shelling of Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city, while trying to probe elsewhere on the eastern front lines.

A daily statement from the armed forces' general staff said Russian forces have destroyed three bridges near villages outside of Kharkiv in an attempt to slow a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces.

In the south, the Ukrainian military said Russian rocket fire damaged civilian buildings in Mykolayiv. In Kherson, a Russian-held city in the south, Ukraine's military said Russian forces were stepping up patrols.

Over 25,000 Russian troops killed so far, says Ukraine

A total of 25,100 Russian soldiers have so far been killed in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has said.

Ukrainian forces have destroyed 199 Russian aircraft, 155 helicopters, 341 unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,122 tanks, 2,713 armored vehicles, and 509 artillery systems, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s latest update.

Russia has also lost 172 multiple rocket launcher systems, 1,934 vehicles and fuel tanks, 84 anti-aircraft systems, 11 boats, and 90 cruise missiles, it added.

Russian gas nominations via Ukraine to Europe down

Russian gas nominations via Ukraine to Europe have stood at 92.4 million cubic metres (mcm), down from Friday's 98.7 mcm, the Interfax news agency has reported, citing data from Ukraine's gas pipeline operator.

Britain says Ukraine conflict taking heavy toll on Russia's most capable units

The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia's most capable units and most advanced capabilities, the British Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

At least one T-90M, Russia's most advanced tank, has been destroyed in the fighting as approximately 100 T-90M tanks are in service amongst Russia's best equipped units, including those fighting in Ukraine, the ministry said. 

"It will take considerable time and expense for Russia to reconstitute its armed forces following this conflict. It will be particularly challenging to replace modernised and advanced equipment due to sanctions restricting Moscow’s access to critical microelectronic components", it said.

Biden, Trudeau discuss Ukraine over phone

US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a phone call, underscored their commitment to holding Russia accountable for its attacks on Ukraine and discussed efforts to provide security assistance to Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

Biden and Trudeau also discussed their upcoming participation in the Summit of the Americas in June in Los Angeles, it said.

US announces new Ukraine aid worth $150 million

US President Joe Biden announced another package of military assistance for Ukraine on Friday as dozens of civilians were evacuated from Mariupol's besieged steelworks, the last pocket of resistance against Russian troops in the pulverized port city.

Worth $150 million, the latest US security assistance for the "brave people of Ukraine" would include artillery munitions and radars, Biden said. A senior US official said it included counter-artillery radars used for detecting the source of enemy fire, and electronic jamming equipment.

Friday's new batch brings the total value of US weaponry sent to Ukraine since the attacks began to $3.8 billion —and the president urged Congress to further approve a huge $33 billion package including $20 billion in military aid, "to strengthen Ukraine on the battlefield and at the negotiating table."

UK donates additional mobile generators to Ukraine

The UK government said it would give Ukraine 287 mobile generators in addition to the 569 generators it had donated earlier.

The new generators, which are enough to power nearly 8,000 homes, will be used for hospitals, shelters and other essential services in the face of ongoing destruction in eastern Ukraine, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said in a statement.

The government has also relaxed rules on support for overseas fossil fuels to boost supply of vital energy to Ukraine, the statement added.

Italy orders seizure of yacht linked to Russian president

The Italian government ordered police to impound a luxury yacht worth some $700 million that allegedly has been linked in the media to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The sleek, six-deck Scheherazade had been undergoing repairs in the Italian port of Marina di Carrara since September, but recent activity at the dockside suggested that the crew might be preparing to put to sea.

A source with direct knowledge of a weeks-long investigation into the vessel said police believed the owner was Eduard Khudainatov, the former chief of Russian energy giant Rosneft who is not currently a target of EU sanctions.

Kiev: Dozens of Ukrainians evacuated from Azovstal

Fifty Ukrainians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the battered city of Mariupol, officials in Kiev said.

"Today we were able to evacuate from Azovstal 50 women, children and elderly people," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.

Vereshchuk accused Russia of violating the promised ceasefire. "The convoy had to stand near Azovstal the whole day. Fighting and provocations were going on there," Vereshchuk wrote.

Zelenskyy: Negotiations under way for trapped in Azovstal

Ukraine is working on a diplomatic effort to save defenders trapped in Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks and this involves influential intermediaries and states, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy, who made the remarks in a late night video address, did not give details. 

For live updates from Friday (May 6), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies