Zelenskyy asks for prolonged truce to save Azovstal civilians

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls for a prolonged truce to rescue the approximately 200 civilians and fighters sheltering in the bunkers of the Azovstal steel plant.
  • Russia says its forces will halt hostilities at Azovstal and open a humanitarian corridor for three days.
  • Ukraine’s Azov regiment says they are fighting “bloody battles” after Russians for the first time broke into the territory of the Azovstal plant.
  • Air alert sirens were activated across every region of Ukraine overnight.
  • Pentagon says recent Russian strikes in western Ukraine were aimed at critical infrastructure.
[Al Jazeera]

Here are all the latest updates:

Russia ‘stole’ 400,000 tonnes of grain: Ukraine’s defence ministry

Ukraine’s defence ministry says Russia’s occupying forces have “stolen” 400,000 tonnes of grain from the south of the country. The message on the ministry’s Twitter account appeared next to images of burnt-out grain fields.

“At least 400,000 tons of grain were stolen by russia in the occupied south of Ukraine. That’s over 6,000 hoppers. russian thieves are bringing death and famine to the world,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.


More than 220 children have died in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Ombudsman

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 221 children have died and 408 have been injured, Ukraine’s ombudsman has said.

“It is not possible to establish the actual number of dead and wounded children due to the fact that the occupying forces are actively fighting in Ukrainian cities,” Lyudmyla Denisova wrote on Telegram.


Russia may use Belarus military exercises as decoy: UK

Russia may try to inflate the threat that Belarusian military exercises pose to Ukraine in order to drive Ukraine’s forces north of the country and away from fighting in the Donbas, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said that the sudden exercises of the Belarusian army are “in line with seasonal norms” as Belarus enters the culmination of its winter training cycle.

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


Shelling kills five in Luhansk: Governor

Russian shelling killed five civilians in the Luhansk region in the past 24 hours, governor Serhiy Haidai has said.

Haidai said the shelling focused on Severodonetsk and Popasna, Hirske and Lysychansk.


Japan says difficult to immediately follow Russia oil embargo

Japan would face “difficulty” to immediately follow a move to cut off Russian oil imports over the invasion of Ukraine, its minister of economy, trade and industry Koichi Hagiuda has said.

Hagiuda made the remark during a visit to Washington after the EU proposed a new round of sanctions that included an oil embargo.

Joe Biden said he would discuss further sanctions against Russia with other leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies this week, which could pressure Japan which is wary of the impact of the oil embargo.

“Given Japan has its limit on resources, we would face some difficulty to keep in step immediately” with other countries, Hagiuda told reporters.


Shelling hits centre of Kramatorsk, wounds six: Mayor

Shelling in residential areas of the centre of Kramatorsk city damaged several multi-story buildings, a school and a kindergarten, the city’s mayor has said.

At least six people were wounded in the attacks, Alexander Goncharenko wrote on the Facebook.

Debris covers the inside of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre following a March 16, 2022
Debris covers the inside of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theatre following a March 16, 2022, bombing in Mariupol, Ukraine, in an area now controlled by Russian forces, Monday, April 4, 2022 [Alexei Alexandrov/AP]

Russia lost control over settlements on Mykolaiv and Kherson border: Army

Russian forces lost control over several settlements on the border of the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions due to “successful actions of Ukrainian defenders”, the Ukrainian army has said.

The latest update from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that over the past day, the Russian military continued to shell the city of Kharkiv and the area north of the city of Izium.

The Russian army have also been trying to conduct offensive operations in Lyman, Severodonetsk and Popasna, but have been unsuccessful, the general staff said on Facebook.

“In the Mariupol area, Russian occupiers are focusing their efforts on blocking and trying to destroy Ukrainians’ units in the Azovstal area. With the support of aircraft, the enemy resumed the offensive in order to take control of the plant,” the statement added.


EU targets Russian Patriarch Kirill in new proposed sanctions: Diplomat

The European Commission has proposed freezing the assets of Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a diplomat has said.

The Patriarch has been added to a draft blacklist that includes hundreds of military officers and businessmen close to the Kremlin whom the EU accuses of supporting the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The sanction, which would entail an asset freeze and a travel ban, needs the backing of EU states to be adopted. Members will meet later this week to discuss the EU’s sixth package of sanctions against Russia announced on Wednesday, which includes an oil embargo.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia conducts a service to consecrate the renovated Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother of God in Rostov-on-Don, Russia October 27, 2019
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia conducts a service to consecrate the renovated Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother of God in Rostov-on-Don, Russia October 27, 2019 [Sergey Pivovarov/File Photo/REUTERS]

The Ukrainian refugees who made it to Australia

On the day Russia invaded Ukraine, 12-year-old Anastasiia was woken by two cruise missiles over the top of her house.

“They were like fighter jets,” she remembered.

Anastasiia is one of the thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have sought refuge in Australia since Russia invaded their country on February 24.

Al Jazeera spoke to Anastasiia and two other Ukrainian refugees about their perilous journey to a country nearly 15,000 kilometres (9,300 miles) away.

Read more here.


Zelenskyy asks for prolonged truce to rescue Azovstal civilians

Zelenskyy has said that “we need to continue the silence” to rescue the others still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant.

“We are negotiating and hope to continue rescuing people from Azovstal, from Mariupol. There are still civilians. Women, children,” he said in his nighttime address.

“To save them, we need to continue the silence. The Ukrainian side is ready to provide it. It takes time to just lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters. In the current conditions, we cannot use special equipment to clear the debris. Everything is done manually,” he added.

Ukrainian officials say some 200 civilians as well as Ukrainian fighters are still holed up in the plant’s network of underground bunkers.


US intelligence helped Ukraine kill Russian generals: NYT

The United States provided Ukraine with intelligence which allowed its troops to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in the current war, the New York Times has reported, citing senior American officials.

“The targeting help is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine,” the NYT reported the officials as having said.

The report said that the US provided Ukraine with location and other details about the Russian military’s headquarters, which are frequently relocated, and that Ukraine combined this with its own intelligence, which included intercepted conversations, which helped locate senior Russian officers. Then Ukraine conducted strikes and other attacks on these locations.

Ukrainian officials have said they have killed around 12 generals on the front lines – a very high number, according to many military analysts.


Stanislav Shushkevich, first leader of independent Belarus, dies in Minsk

Stanislav Shushkevich, the first leader of independent Belarus following the collapse of the Soviet Union, has died at 87, after being hospitalised for COVID-19.

Shushkevich was one of three leaders including Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine’s Leonid Kravchuk who in 1991 signed an agreement effectively dissolving the Soviet Union. They formed a Commonwealth of Independent States and Shushkevich, a nuclear physicist before entering politics, led independent Belarus for less than three years before he was overthrown by Lukashenko.

He was well regarded by the US, particularly for his commitment to ridding Belarus of the nuclear weapons from the Soviet era that remained on its soil. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was saddened to learn of Shushkevich’s death. “Our thoughts are with his loved ones and the people of Belarus, who carry on the struggle for a democratic, prosperous, and peaceful #FreeBelarus,” Blinken wrote in a tweet.


Air alert sirens blare across Ukraine

Air alert sirens have been activated throughout every region and most cities of Ukraine overnight.

“Everyone is in hiding: an air alert has been declared throughout Ukraine,” the country’s Channel 24 wrote on Twitter.

“Note that in the Luhansk region the alarm has been going on continuously since April 4. Currently, sirens are not heard only in the Kherson region,” Channel 24 said in an article.


Russia may hope to capture Azovstal by May 9: Think-tank

Russian forces reportedly entered the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, rather than its outskirts, for the first time on Wednesday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said.

“The extent of this Russian advance remains unclear, and Russian forces likely face further costly fighting if they intend to clear the entire facility,” the ISW wrote in its latest assessment on Russia’s offensive.

It added that the “Kremlin likely hopes” to capture Azovstal to “cement the Kremlin’s growing effort to claim complete control of Mariupol by May 9”, which is the date Russia celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany.


Russia boycotts Security Council meeting due to ‘Russophobic policy’

Russia refused to participate in Wednesday’s informal meeting of the UN Security Council with the European Union “in light of the hostile and Russophobic policy of the European Union”, Russia’s representative to the UN has said.

Dmitry Polyansky wrote on Telegram that the EU policy was “actively trying to extinguish the fire of the Ukrainian crisis by pouring gasoline on it”, adding that there was no other explanation for the “open warmongering” by the EU leadership.

The Security Council’s annual meeting with the EU’s Political and Security Committee on Wednesday is the first since 2019 due to the pandemic.


UK sending Ukraine £45 million for humanitarian aid, more medical supplies

Britain’s foreign secretary has announced £45 million ($56 million) in funding for agencies and charities doing humanitarian work on the ground in Ukraine and its borders.

“Of the £45 million, £15 million will go to the UN Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, to provide immediate life-saving assistance and help tackle sexual and gender-based violence through targeted services, legal support and crisis accommodation,” a statement from Liz Truss’s office said.

A further £15m will go to UNICEF to fund services like nutrition for pregnant women and mental health support for children.

Truss also announced further deliveries of medical supplies, including wound care packs to treat more than 220,000 patients and about 380,000 packs of medicine.

Children from Ukraine sleep on luggage at a railway station in Przemysl, southeastern Poland
Children from Ukraine sleep on luggage at a railway station in Przemysl, southeastern Poland, on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 [Sergei Grits/AP]

Zelenskyy pays tribute to killed Ukrainian journalist

Zelenskyy started his latest nighttime address by remembering Ukrainian journalist and TV reporter, Oleksandr Makhov, who he said died on Wednesday in the Kharkiv region, “in the battles near Izium”.

“He was always among the bravest, among the first. He always worked in the hottest spots. Tried to bring true material. From the first day of the full-scale war, he was on the front line,” Zelenskyy said

“He was 36 years old. My sincere condolences to relatives and friends. Let his son Vladyslav know: Russia will bear responsibility for this death,” he said, adding that Ukraine will win and make Oleksandr’s dream come true.


UK’s Johnson to host Japanese PM for Ukraine talks

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host his Japanese counterpart for talks to focus on Ukraine and countries affected by Russia’s invasion.

Meetings between Johnson and Fumio Kishida tomorrow are expected to focus on “how international alliances can continue to exert maximum pressure on President Putin’s regime while supporting Ukraine and other European countries affected,” a government statement said.

They will also agree to closer collaboration to help countries in Asia develop renewables, “supporting their transition to green energy and helping to provide alternative supplies to Russian oil and gas”.

The statement added the two will agree in principle to a reciprocal access agreement to allow Japanese and British forces to “work, exercise and operate together”.


Further sanctions likely if Russia continues war, says US treasury secretary

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the US is in constant discussions with its partners about further sanctions and could impose “additional actions” to pressure Moscow.

At a Wall Street Journal conference, Yellen would not preview any specific actions under consideration but stressed that further measures were likely “if Russia continues this war against Ukraine”.

Yellen said she believed Western sanctions so far had taken an enormous toll on the Russian economy, curtailing foreign investment and preventing it from accessing goods it needs to compete in the global economy over the long term.


More than 300 civilians evacuated from southern Ukraine: UN

More than 300 civilians were evacuated from Mariupol and other areas in southern Ukraine as part of a joint UN-Red Cross operation that concluded on Wednesday, UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine Osnat Lubrani has said.

“While this second evacuation of civilians from areas in Mariupol and beyond is significant, much more must be done to make sure all civilians caught up in fighting can leave, in the direction they wish,” Lubrani said.

Women board a bus during an evacuation of civilians on a road near Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine
Women board a bus during an evacuation of civilians on a road near Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, May 4, 2022
[Andriy Andriyenko/AP]

Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘missile terrorism’

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of “missile terrorism” as authorities said Russian forces bombarded cities across Ukraine.

Attacks were reported near Kyiv; in Cherkasy and Dnipro in central Ukraine, and in Zaporizhzhia in the southeast. In Dnipro, authorities said a rail facility was hit.


Zelenskyy says he spoke to Israeli PM about ‘scandalous’ Russian remarks

Zelenskyy has said he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and discussed the “scandalous and completely unacceptable remarks” by Russia’s foreign minister about Adolf Hitler.

In an early morning video address, Zelenskyy said the comments by Sergey Lavrov had outraged the entire world.

In an interview on Sunday, Lavrov said the Nazi dictator had had Jewish origins, a comment that Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid called an “unforgivable” falsehood.


Russia ‘already lost the war’, White House says

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said that Russia “already lost the war in Ukraine”.

Pressed by a reporter to define what victory looked like for Ukraine, Psaki instead said Russian President Vladimir Putin had failed in his own objectives by invading the neighbouring country.

“He wanted this to be a moment to divide NATO, to divide the west,” Psaki said. “Clearly that is not what is happening.”


Sweden says it received US assurances should it seek to join NATO

Sweden has received assurances from the United States that it would get support during the period a potential application to join NATO is processed by the 30 nations in the alliance, foreign minister Ann Linde has said.

Sweden and its neighbour Finland stayed out of NATO during the Cold War, but Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its invasion of Ukraine have led the countries to rethink their security policies, with NATO membership looking increasingly likely.

“Naturally, I’m not going to go into any details, but I feel very sure that now we have an American assurance,” Linde told Swedish TV from Washington after meeting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.


Russian strikes in western Ukraine aimed at critical infrastructure: Pentagon

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has said recent Russian strikes in western Ukraine were aimed at critical infrastructure sites.

“They are attempting to hit what we assess to be critical infrastructure targets out towards the west – electrical power, transportation hubs, that kind of thing. We think this is an effort to try to disrupt the Ukrainians’ ability to replenish and reinforce themselves,” Kirby told reporters.

“Particularly these most recent strikes, we are still assessing the degree to which they hit what they were targeting. They are not good at precision strikes. They are not discriminant with how they target.”


Far-right Azov regiment says Ukrainians fighting ‘bloody battles’ in Mariupol

Ukrainian forces inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant are fighting “difficult bloody battles” against Russian troops for a second day, after they broke into the territory of the plant, the commander of the far-right Azov regiment has said.

“I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the pressure of the enemy … The situation is extremely difficult,” commander Denis Prokopenko said in a brief video message released on Telegram.


Russia meeting ‘stiff’ resistance in eastern Ukraine, US says

The Russian military has not been able to advance as far into the Donbas region of Ukraine as planned due to Ukrainian resistance, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has said.

“Russians have not made the kind of progress in the Donbas and in the south that we believe they wanted to make. And we do believe it’s been slow. And at every turn they have met a stiff Ukrainian resistance,” Kirby told a media briefing at the Pentagon.

“What we’re focused on is making sure that resistance remains as stiff as possible.”


Russia says it will halt fighting at Mariupol plant for civilian evacuation

Russia has said its forces would halt hostilities at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and open a humanitarian corridor for civilians for three days beginning on Thursday.

“The Russian armed forces will from 8am to 6pm [Moscow time] on May 5, 6 and 7 open a humanitarian corridor from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians,” the defence ministry said.


Zelenskyy asks UN chief for help to save people in Azovstal steel plant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for help saving people trapped in the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, his office said in a statement.

“The lives of the people who remain there are in danger. Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help in saving them,” the statement quoted Zelenskyy as saying.


Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read the updates from Wednesday, May 4.

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