A third UN-led operation is under way to evacuate civilians from Mariupol and Azovstal steel plant, as Russia accuses West of waging an economic world war and fighting enters its 72nd day.

"The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine," the UN declaration says. (AP)

Friday, May 6, 2022

UNSC resolutions backs 'peaceful' Ukraine solution

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted its first declaration on Ukraine since the start of the Russian offensive in February, backing the Secretary-General's efforts to find a "peaceful solution" to the conflict.

The declaration, drafted by Norway and Mexico, stopped short of supporting a mediation effort by Antonio Guterres, as was laid out in an earlier version of the text.

"The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine," the text adopted said. It also "recalls that all Member States have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means."

Ukraine warns more shelling amid Victory Day

Officials from Ukraine’s national security council have warned residents against the increased risk of shelling on Sunday and Monday, coinciding with Russia’s Victory Day celebrations.

A Facebook post published on the profile of the Center for Counteracting Disinformation, under the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, urged Ukrainians not to ignore air raid sirens.

Separately, Kiev’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said authorities will not be extending the curfew in Kiev; one has already been introduced. But street patrols would be reinforced.

Smoke rises at a warehouse after shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, as fighting is raging across Ukraine's east amid a US warning that Moscow is preparing to formally annex eastern regions.
Smoke rises at a warehouse after shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, as fighting is raging across Ukraine's east amid a US warning that Moscow is preparing to formally annex eastern regions. (AFP)

Russian forces encircle Severodonetsk

Russian forces have almost encircled Severodonetsk, the easternmost city in Ukraine held by Kiev, and are trying to storm it, a local official says.

Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the Seve rodonetsk military administration, says on Ukrainian television that Kiev's army was so far "repelling these attacks" but the Russians were pressing on.

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

Kiev: 11 women among 41 prisoners freed in new swap

Over 40 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians captured by Russia, among them 11 women and a cleric, have been freed in a new prisoner exchange, Kiev said.

"Another prisoner exchange has taken place: 41 people, including 11 women were brought home," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement on Telegram.

Among those released were 28 soldiers and 13 civilians, one of whom was a member of the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

G7 leaders, Ukraine's Zelenskyy to hold talks

Group of Seven (G7) leaders will hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday.

Talks will focus on the latest developments of the Russian attack, efforts to bolster Ukraine and ways to demonstrate "continued G7 unity in our collective response, including by imposing severe costs for Putin’s war," a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council said on Monday.

The leaders of the G7 countries, which include the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy, will hold their virtual meeting with Zelenskyy on Sunday morning, the spokesperson added.

Russia will remain in southern Ukraine 'forever': lawmaker 

A senior official from the Russian parliament has said that Russia will remain in southern Ukraine "forever," speaking on a visit to the Moscow-controlled city of Kherson.

"Russia is here forever. There should be no doubt about this. There will be no return to the past," Andrey Turchak said, according to a statement from the ruling United Russia party. 

Moscow allows sanction-busting imports

Russia has allowed for hundreds of categories of goods to be imported without the agreement of the intellectual property owner in order to bypass restrictions imposed over the Ukraine conflict.

Among the list published by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce are Apple and Samsung smartphones, major car brands, game consoles and spare parts used in various industries.

There are also everyday consumer products, such as cutlery and cosmetics. "According to this document, civil liability is waived in cases where products are imported by importers bypassing official distribution channels," the ministry said.

Russian court orders arrest in absentia of top journalist  

A Moscow court has ordered the arrest in absentia of Alexander Nevzorov, a prominent Russian journalist accused of spreading false information about Moscow's special military operation in Ukraine.

The court said Nevzorov, who has been put on Russia's international wanted list, would be detained for two months if he ever returns to Russia or is extradited there.

Nevzorov's wife wrote on Instagram in March that she and her husband were in Israel, but that the couple had no plans to move there permanently.

Zelenskyy: Russia not willing to end 'war' 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Russia thought it could escape prosecutions for "war crimes" because of the threat of a nuclear attack.

"They do not believe that they can be made responsible for the war crimes because they have the power of the nuclear state", Zelenskyy, speaking through a translator, told Britain's Chatham House think tank.

"This is the 72nd day of the fully-fledged war and we can see no end of it yet and we cannot feel any willingness of the Russian side to end it," he added.

One Ukrainian fighter killed in Mariupol during evacuation

Authorities in Mariupol have accused Russian forces of violating a ceasefire at the city's Azovstal steel works and firing at a car involved in evacuation efforts, killing one Ukrainian fighter and wounding six. 

Russia did not immediately comment on the city council's online statement. It denies targeting civilians. 

No plans for Victory Day events in Mariupol: Kremlin 

Kremlin has said there will be no Victory Day celebrations in Ukraine's Mariupol, a strategic port city that Russian troops claimed control of last month. 

"A time will come and there will be a big celebration there," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that there were no plans for official visits on the day. 

"There will certainly be Russians there, and there will be many Russians on May 9, but I don't know about any official delegation," Peksov said.

Hungary's Orban rejects EU ban on Russian oil

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has blasted European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen for "attacking" EU unity with a plan to ban Russian oil, saying it crosses a red line and has been sent back.

"The European Commission president, intentionally or unintentionally, has attacked the European unity that had been worked out," Orban said on state radio. "From the first moment we made clear that there will be a red line... they have crossed this red line."

Von der Leyen said the bloc would "phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months, and refined products by the end of the year." The embargo would amount to "a nuclear bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy," Orban said

Nearly 25M tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine: UN food agency

A UN food agency official has said that nearly 25 million tonnes of grains is stuck in Ukraine and unable to leave the country due to infrastructure challenges and blocked ports in the Black Sea.

"It's an almost grotesque situation we see at the moment in Ukraine with nearly 25 million tonnes of grain that could be exported but that cannot leave the country simply because of lack of infrastructure, the blockade of the ports," Josef Schmidhuber, FAO Deputy Director, Markets and Trade Division told a Geneva press briefing.

Kremlin says Poland might be a source of threat

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said that there is hostile rhetoric coming out of Poland, and that Warsaw could be "a source of threat."

Poland has led calls for the EU to toughen sanctions and for the Western NATO alliance to arm Ukraine as it tries to resist Russian forces that have poured into its east.

Polish environment and climate minister Anna Moskwa has said that "Poland is proud to be on Putin's list of unfriendly countries."

Russia denies possibility of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine

Russia has no intentions to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the country's Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman has said.

Asked about the allegations by the Western media about a possibility of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Alexey Zaytsev recalled that such speculations come from the West, not for the first time, and called them a "deliberate lie."

"We repeatedly had to refute insinuations about the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia in a special military operation. This is a deliberate lie. Russia firmly adheres to the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it should not be unleashed," Zaytsev said.

Russia continues 'assault' on Mariupol's Azovstal plant: Kiev

Ukraine has said that Russia is pressing on with "assault operations" on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where Kiev's remaining soldiers defending the battered port city and some civilians are holed up.

"The blockade of (Ukrainian) defence forces in the Azovstal area continues," said a Kiev army spokesman in a video.

"In some areas, with aviation support, there are resumed assault operations to take control of the plant."

G7 leaders to hold video conference with Zelenskyy on Sunday: Berlin

Leaders of the world's top industrialised nations will hold video talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the German government as acting G7 chair has said.

"The German chancellor (Olaf Scholz) will hold the third video conference since the start of the year with his G7 partners," Christiane Hoffmann told reporters, noting that May 8 is a "historic date marking the end of World War 2 in Europe".

"It will cover current issues, particularly the situation in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy will take part and report on the current situation in his country."

Ukraine says new effort to evacuate civilians from Mariupol steel works under way

A senior Ukrainian official has said a new attempt is under way "at the moment" to evacuate civilians trapped with Ukrainian fighters in the Azovstal steel works in the southern city of Mariupol.

"The next stage of rescuing our people from Azovstal is under way at the moment. Information about the results will be provided later," Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential staff, said. He gave no details and it was not immediately clear what stage the new rescue effort was at.

He has said that almost 500 civilians had been evacuated from the city and its besieged plant since a UN-led rescue operation began.

UK: Russia aims to take Mariupol before V-Day

The British military believes Russia wants to take the port city of Mariupol and its vast steel mill before its marks Victory Day on Monday.

The British Defence Ministry made the comment in a daily intelligence briefing it makes on Twitter. The British military said: “The renewed effort by Russia to secure Azovstal and complete the capture of Mariupol is likely linked to the upcoming 9 May Victory Day commemorations and Putin’s desire to have a symbolic success in Ukraine.” 

The Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol has been the scene of weeks of fighting. Victory Day marks the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Russia says it destroyed large ammunition depot in east Ukraine

Russia's defence ministry has said that its missiles have destroyed a large ammunition depot in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk.

It also said its air defences shot down two Ukrainian warplanes, an Su-25 and a MiG-29, in the eastern Luhansk region.

EU tweaks Russia oil sanctions plan in bid to win over reluctant states - source

The European Commission has proposed changes to its plan to embargo Russian oil, in a bid to win over reluctant states, an EU source has said.

The tweaked proposal would include a three-month transition before the introduction of a ban on shipping services to transport Russian oil, instead of the initial one month. 

It would also entail help with investments to upgrade oil infrastructure and mitigate the impact of the sanctions.

UK says Russia continued ground assault on Azovstal steel plant for second day

Russian forces in Ukraine's Mariupol have continued their ground assault on the Azovstal steel plant for a second day, British military intelligence has said in a tweet.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address that Russian forces were still storming and shelling the Soviet-era Azovstal plant, where civilians and military forces are sheltering.

Meanwhile, a new UN convoy was expected in Mariupol to evacuate civilians from the besieged steel plant that has become the last pocket of resistance against Russian forces in the southern port city.

Official: US gave intel before Ukraine sank Russian warship

The US says it has shared intelligence with Ukraine about the location of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva prior to the strike that sank the warship, an incident that was a high-profile failure for Russia's military.

An American official said that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet using its own anti-ship missiles. But given Russia's attacks on the Ukrainian coastline from the sea, the US has provided “a range of intelligence” that includes locations of those ships, said the official, who was not authorised to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said the US was not aware that Ukraine planned to strike the Moskva until after they conducted the operation. 

Pentagon denies helping Ukraine 'target' Russian generals

The Pentagon has denied that it has provided intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield so that Ukrainian forces could kill them.

Reacting to an explosive New York Times report on US support for Ukraine's military, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said it was true that the United States supplies Kiev's forces with military intelligence "to help Ukrainians defend their country."

"We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military," Kirby said.

US First Lady to meet Ukrainian refugees during border visit

US First Lady Jill Biden is on her way to Europe for a visit to Romania and Slovakia.

During her visit, the First Lady is scheduled to meet with US service members, US embassy personnel, displaced Ukrainian parents and children, humanitarian aid workers and educators.

Pentagon: Most Russian forces left Mariupol

The Pentagon has said the majority of Russian forces that had been around the port city of Mariupol have left and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups there, or about 2,000 troops.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that even as Russian air strikes continue to bombard Mariupol, Moscow's forces are still making only "plodding" and incremental progress as the main fight presses on in the eastern Donbas region.

He said he has seen no change in Russian momentum as May 9 draws near. Kirby said the US still assesses that Russia is behind schedule and not making the progress in the Donbas that it expected.

Zelenskyy describes lack of medical access

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described a "catastrophic" lack of access to medical services and medicine in areas of the country under Russian control.

In those areas, he said almost no treatment was available for those suffering from cancer and where insulin for diabetics was difficult to find or non-existent. He said antibiotics were in short supply.

Zelenskyy also said that during the course of the offensive, the Russian military has already fired 2,014 missiles on Ukraine, while 2,682 flights of Russian warplanes have been recorded in Ukrainian skies. He said the destroyed or damaged infrastructure includes nearly 400 hospitals and other medical facilities.

Russian oligarch's yacht seized in Fiji on US request

Authorities in Fiji have seized the $300 million yacht of Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov after the US Justice Department requested the vessel be held for violating sanctions and for alleged ties to corruption, the department said.

The five-year-old, 348-foot "Amadea" was berthed in Lautoka, Fiji in the South Pacific when local authorities took control of it based on a US warrant and a Justice Department request.

"The Amadea is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of US law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and conspiracy," the department said in a statement.

For live updates from Thursday (May 5), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies