Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Kremlin denies Russian troops attempted to storm Azovstal steelworks

The Kremlin has denied that Russian troops tried to storm the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, considered the last stronghold of Ukrainian fighters in the southern port city, insisting that humanitarian corridors were still in use there for civilians.

Ukrainian media reported last night that Russian troops had tried to storm the factory, citing comments from a Ukrainian lawmaker. Several hundred civilians are still believed to be trapped in the steelworks, as well as soldiers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had not issued any new orders regarding the plant and that a previous instruction to block the plant, rather than attack it , was still valid.

“You have been witnesses: publicly the President and the Commander-in-Chief [Putin] gave the order to refrain from the assault. No further orders were given,” Peskov said in response to a reporter’s question about reversing Putin’s previous decree, the state-run Tass news agency reported.

On Wednesday, Peskov insisted that the Russian troops were not storming the territory of the factory, “but were suppressing the attempts of the militants stuck there to reach the firing points”, Tass reported.

Holly Ellyatt

President Zelensky calls for ceasefire to save trapped Mariupol civilians

A boy from Mariupol looks out the window of his family’s car after arriving at an evacuation point for those fleeing Mariupol, Melitopol and surrounding Russian-held towns on May 2, 2022, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a ceasefire to rescue civilians who are still trapped under the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, saying they must be dug up by hand.

“We hope to continue to rescue the people of Azovstal, Mariupol. There are still civilians. Women, children,” Zelenskyy said in his morning address to the nation.

To save them, he said, there needs to be a ceasefire, with Ukraine ready to accept one.

“It takes time to just get people out of these basements, these underground shelters. Under the current conditions, we cannot use special equipment to remove blockages,” he said, adding: “Everything is done manually”.

Two Russian villages bombed by Ukraine, governor says

Two villages in the Russian region of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, were bombed by Ukraine, said Thursday the governor of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov.

“There are shelling from the Ukrainian side on Zhuravlyovka and Nekhoteevka,” he said, Reuters reported. Gladkov said there were no civilian casualties.

Russia had previously accused Ukraine of bombing towns on Russian territory, especially those close to the border.

Ukraine has not publicly admitted to targeting positions in Russia, although one of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s top advisers called the attacks several weeks ago “karma”.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia says it killed 600 ‘nationalists’ in Ukraine

Russia claimed to have “destroyed” 600 Ukrainian fighters whom it called “nationalists” in its latest military update on Thursday. The term “nationalists” is commonly used by Russia to refer to Ukrainian soldiers and is seen as a way to denigrate the country’s armed forces.

The Russian Defense Ministry posted on Telegram that it also destroyed aircraft equipment at the Kanatovo military airfield in the Kirovograd region, a large ammunition depot in the town of Nikolaev and a fuel storage facility for Ukrainian military equipment in the Nikolaev region.

Two military equipment warehouses at a military airfield near Kramatorsk were also hit, he said.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia could use Belarusian military drills to divert Ukrainian forces, UK says

According to the British Ministry of Defence, Russia is likely to use rapid military exercises by its Belarusian ally to divert Ukrainian forces from Donbass in eastern Ukraine, at the center of Russian assaults, as it seeks to take over the whole region.

“Russia will likely seek to inflate the threat posed to Ukraine by these exercises in order to pin down Ukrainian forces in the north, preventing them from engaging in the battle for Donbass,” the ministry said in its latest update. information update on Twitter this morning. .

Belarus announced yesterday that it was starting combat readiness exercises, saying the purpose of the drills was “to assess the readiness and ability of personnel to react quickly to possible crises”. The move has raised speculation that Belarus could join Russia’s war effort in a potential new assault on northern Ukraine. Belarus has insisted there is no threat to its European neighbours.

The UK Ministry of Defense said on Thursday that Belarusian ground forces “have been observed deploying from garrison to the field, for exercises” and that this is in line with seasonal norms as Belarus enters the climax of his winter training cycle in May.

“A deviation from normal exercise activity that could pose a threat to allies and partners is not currently anticipated,” the ministry added.

Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces renew attacks to seize Ukraine’s last stronghold in Mariupol

A destroyed administrative building at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.

Genghis Kondarov | Reuters

Russian forces have reportedly renewed their assault on the Azovstal steel complex, the last stronghold of Ukrainian fighters in the southern port city of Mariupol, in what is widely seen as an attempt to end the standoff.

In the latest update from the Ukrainian military, its spokesman said that Russian forces are “focusing their efforts on blocking and attempting to destroy Ukrainian units in the Azovstal steelworks.”

“With aircraft support, the enemy resumed the offensive in order to take control of the factory,” Ukraine said in its update Thursday morning.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information.

Hundreds of civilians, including the elderly and children, took refuge in the network of underground tunnels and bunkers under the steelworks. After a number of failed attempts to evacuate civilians, several hundred have been evacuated to the relative safety of Ukrainian-held Zaporhizhia in recent days.

—Holly Ellyatt

Russia strikes civilian targets to ‘weaken Ukrainian resolve’, UK government says

Moscow is trying to “weaken Ukrainian determination” by striking civilian targets in Ukraine, the British government announced on Wednesday evening.

“While Russian operations failed, non-military targets including schools, hospitals, residential properties and transportation hubs continued to be hit, indicating Russia’s willingness to target civilian infrastructure. to try to weaken Ukrainian resolve,” the UK Ministry of Defense said.

A woman feeds her baby after being evacuated from the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on May 3.

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The UK ministry said in an intelligence update that Russian ground operations are focused on the eastern part of Ukraine, but that missile strikes continue across the country as Moscow wants to disrupt the Ukrainians’ ability to resupply their troops in the east.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s press service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moscow has repeatedly denied hitting civilian targets, although such attacks have been widely documented. Instead, Russia accuses Ukraine of attacking civilian targets.

The British ministry said Russia was attacking cities such as Odessa, Kherson and Mariupol in order to seize control of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and cut off its maritime line of communication and maritime trade.

LOOK: Russian troops Breach steel plant in Mariupol

—Ted Kemp

Over 340 civilians evacuated from Mariupol, Zelenskyy says

Evacuees from Mariupol arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on May 3, 2022, as Russian attacks continue. Another 344 civilians have been evacuated from the city and suburbs of Mariupol and are on their way to Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his overnight address.

Diego Herrera Carcedo | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Another 344 civilians have been evacuated from the city and suburbs of Mariupol and are on their way to Zaporizhzhia, a city in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his overnight address.

This is the second group of people rescued from the besieged Ukrainian city after the evacuation of 156 women and children from the Azovstal steelworks who arrived in Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.

“All will receive the most caring treatment in our state,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia’s attempt to take control of Mariupol has led to harsh living conditions in the city where thousands of people lack food, water and medical aid, while civilians and soldiers are entrenched in the Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold of the fighters in the heavily bombed city. .

—Chelsea Ong

Russian forces largely pinned down in eastern and southern Ukraine, Pentagon says

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby holds a press conference at the Pentagon May 02, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. Kirby announced the return of public tours of the Pentagon and provided an update on the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Russians had made uneven progress in Ukraine’s Donbas region after weeks of resupply and repositioning efforts.

“The Russians haven’t made the kind of progress in Donbass and in the south that we think they wanted to make,” Kirby said at a daily Pentagon press briefing. “We think they are late. We think it was slow at every turn and they met strong Ukrainian resistance,” he added.

Kirby’s comments come as the United States and its allies rush to send additional security aid ahead of what was believed to be an intensified Russian push into eastern and southern Ukraine. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to quickly pass $33 billion in additional US security assistance to Ukraine.

Biden’s latest military aid package of $800 million announced April 21, the eighth installment of such security assistance, brings the U.S. commitment to $3.4 billion since the late Russian invasion. february.

—Amanda Macias

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