Russia–Ukraine War (May 1): Ukrainian Commander: Russia Resumes Shelling

Russia–Ukraine War (May 1): Ukrainian Commander: Russia Resumes Shelling
Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29, 2022. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images)

The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, May 1. Click here for updates from April 30.

Ukrainian Commander: Russia Resumes Shelling

A Ukrainian military officer says that Russian forces have resumed their shelling of a steel plant in the war-torn port city Mariupol immediately after the partial evacuation of civilians.

Ukrainian National Guard brigade commander Denys Shlega said Sunday in a televised interview that the shelling began as soon as rescue crews ceased evacuating civilians at the Azovstal steel mill.

Shlega says that at least one more round of evacuations is needed to clear civilians from the plant. He says dozens of small children remain in bunkers below the industrial facilities.

The commander estimates that several hundred civilians still are trapped at the site alongside nearly 500 wounded soldiers and numerous dead bodies.


Germany May Quit Russian Oil by Late Summer

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

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck said Sunday that Europe’s largest economy has reduced its share of Russian energy imports to 12 percent for oil, 8 percent for coal, and 35 percent for natural gas.

Habeck says those steps mean increased costs for the economy and for consumers. But he says the changes are necessary if Germany no longer wants to be “blackmailed by Russia.”

The announcement comes as the European Union considers an embargo on Russian oil. The bloc has already decided to ban Russian coal imports starting in August.

Weaning German off Russian natural gas is a far bigger challenge. Before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Germany got more than half of its natural gas imports from Russia.


Nadal Says Wimbledon Ban on Russian and Belarusian Players Unfair

Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal has labeled the ban on Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Wimbledon over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as unfair, saying they are not responsible for the war.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has barred the two countries’ players from competing at this year’s grasscourt major in response to what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Belarus has been a key staging area for the invasion.

“I think it’s very unfair to my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. In that sense it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” 21-times major winner Nadal told reporters at the Madrid Open on Sunday.

“Let’s see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision… well, there is one thing that’s negative, there are things that are clear. When the government imposes some restrictions, you just have to follow them.”

AELTC’s decision has been condemned by both the men’s and women’s tours as well as several other players.


Mariupol Prepares for Broad Evacuation

The city council in the bombed-out southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol says Monday is the scheduled start date for a broad, U.N.-backed evacuation of its civilians, other than those sheltering at a steel plant.

The city council also confirmed Sunday in a social media post on Telegram that some civilians were being evacuated Sunday from the Azovstal steelworks, the last Ukrainian defense stronghold in Mariupol. City officials note the support of the Red Cross and say the wider evacuation of the strategic port city was delayed by security concerns.

As many as 100,000 people are believed to still be in blockaded Mariupol, including up to 1,000 civilians who were hunkered down with an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters beneath the Soviet-era steel plant. The plant is the only part of the city not occupied by the Russians.


Ukraine Says It’s Stalling Russian Offensive

The Ukrainian army says that a Russian offensive along a broad front in the country’s east has been stalling amid human and material losses inflicted by Kyiv’s forces.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Sunday in a Facebook post that Russian troops were trying to advance in the Sloboda, Donetsk, and Tauride regions, but were being held back by Ukrainian forces that continue to fight village by village.

Separately, Ukrainian intelligence officials accused Russian forces of destroying medical infrastructure, taking equipment, and denying medical care to residents in several occupied cities and towns.


Russian Oligarchs to Be Targeted in US Aid Package for Ukraine, Schumer Says

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday he will add provisions to a $33 billion Ukraine aid package to allow the United States to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets and send money from their sale directly 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,” Schumer said at a media briefing in New York.

President Joe Biden asked Congress to approve $33 billion in assistance for Kyiv on Thursday in what would mark a dramatic escalation of U.S. funding for Ukraine more than two months after it was invaded by Russia.


Poland’s Armed Forces Say NATO Military Exercises Involving Thousands of Soldiers Have Begun

Poland’s armed forces said Sunday that military exercises involving thousands of NATO soldiers have begun. They are regular exercises aimed at improving the security of the alliance’s eastern flank but come this year with Russia’s war against Ukraine raging nearby.

Due to those circumstances, Poland’s military appealed to the public on Sunday not to publish information or photos of the columns of military vehicles expected to move through the country in the coming weeks.

It warned that “ill-considered activity” could harm the alliance’s security. “Let’s be aware of the dangers!” the statement said.

The Polish Army said in a statement that 18,000 soldiers from over 20 countries were taking part in the Defender Europe 2022 and Swift Response 2022 exercises that are taking place in Poland and eight other countries.

The exercises are scheduled to run May 1–27.


Next Round of EU Sanctions on Russia Must Include Oil Embargo, Ukraine’s FM Tells Borrell

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said he told the European Union’s top diplomat on Sunday that the bloc’s next round of sanctions must include an oil embargo on Russia.

“I also emphasized there can be no alternative to granting Ukraine EU candidate status. We paid separate attention to further safe evacuation from besieged Mariupol,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter after his call with Josep Borrell.


Fire Reported at Russian Military Site Near Ukraine

One person was injured in a fire on a Russian defense ministry facility in the southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, the Belgorod region governor said on Sunday.

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

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

Separately, the governor of the Kursk region, which also shares a border with Ukraine, said that a railway bridge had been damaged on a line used by freight trains.

Speaking in a video posted on his Telegram channel, Gov. Roman Starovoit called the incident an act of sabotage.

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 Moscow sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a “special military operation.”


Civilians Evacuated From Mariupol

Around 100 Ukrainian civilians were being evacuated from a ruined steelworks in the city of Mariupol on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, after the United Nations had confirmed a “safe passage operation” was in progress there.

“Grateful to our team! Now they, together with (United Nations), are working on the evacuation of other civilians from the plant,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter. The evacuees would reach the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday, he said.

U.N. humanitarian spokesman Saviano Abreu told The Associated Press on Sunday that the effort to bring people out of the sprawling Azovstal steel plant was being done in collaboration with the International Committee for the Red Cross and in coordination with Ukrainian and Russian officials.

He called the situation “very complex” and would not give further details.


Russia Releases Video Purportedly Showing Missile Used in Odesa Military Airfield Strike

Russia’s defense ministry released footage on Sunday purporting to show a missile being fired that was used to carry out missile strikes on a runway at a military airfield near the Ukrainian city of Odesa a day earlier.

The video shows what the Russian defense ministry said was a high-precision Onyx missile being fired from a launcher in an undisclosed location and moving off at speed to its target.

The ministry said it had carried out a missile strike on a military airfield near the port city of Odesa, destroying a runway and a hangar containing weapons and ammunition supplied to Ukraine by the United States and European countries.

On Saturday, Ukraine said Russian missiles had knocked out a newly constructed runway at Odesa’s main airport.

It was unclear if they were referring to the same incident.

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


Pelosi Visits Kyiv, Meets With Zelenskyy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a delegation of U.S. lawmakers revealed that they traveled to Ukraine’s capital to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a bid to express solidarity with the country.

“Our delegation traveled to Kyiv to send an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America stands firmly with Ukraine,” the group of lawmakers said in a statement. “When we return to the United States, we will do so further informed, deeply inspired, and ready to do what is needed to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world.”

Other than Pelosi, several top Democrat House members also traveled to Kyiv, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). A video posted by Zelenskyy’s Twitter account apparently showed the delegation walking on the streets of Kyiv before they were greeted by the Ukrainian leader.

Pelosi is now the highest-ranking U.S. elected official to visit the beleaguered Eastern European nation since the start of its conflict with Russia. Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken both traveled to Ukraine to meet with top officials last weekend, while earlier this month, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Ukraine-born Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) went to the outskirts of Kyiv, which has seen heavy fighting.

Zelenskyy greeted the delegation outdoors before they adjourned to a meeting room where he said, “I am grateful to you for this signal of strong support from the United States, the people, and Congress—bicameral and bipartisan support.”

“This shows that the United States today is a leader in strong support for Ukraine during the war against the aggression of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskyy said.

Pelosi told Zelenskyy, “We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom.”

“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,” Pelosi added.

The visit was not previously announced.

Read the full article here


Blinken Says US Diplomats to Visit Kyiv Again

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says American diplomats are making plans to return to Ukraine as soon as possible.

Blinken made the comment while speaking to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. An overnight statement Sunday said Blinken told Kuleba that America “plans to return to Kyiv as soon as possible.”

He said diplomats had been making “initial visits” to Lviv to prepare.

The U.S. evacuated its embassy in Kyiv in February just before Russia launched its war on the country.

The United States had been bringing diplomats across the Polish border each day to work in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine some 470 kilometers (290 miles) away, before stopping the practice.

Lviv has largely been spared in the conflict, though a missile strike several days ago targeted a railroad facility near the city.

The United States is one of Ukraine’s main backers in the war, providing billions in aid and weaponry.


Russia Should Respond Symmetrically to Asset Freezes by ‘Unfriendly Countries’: Duma Chairman

Russia should respond symmetrically to the freezing of Russian assets by some “unfriendly countries,” Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman on Russia’s state Duma, the lower house of parliament, wrote in a social media post on Sunday.

“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,” Volodin wrote.


Russia Says Ukraine Shells Its Own Civilians; Some Evacuations in Mariupol

Ukraine’s shelling killed and injured its own civilians in the southern region of Kherson, Russia said on Sunday, after pounding southern and eastern areas with missile strikes, while some civilians got away from a steel plant in besieged Mariupol.

Moscow has turned its focus to Ukraine’s south and east.

Its forces have captured the town of Kherson, giving them a foothold just 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Russian-annexed Crimea, and have mostly occupied Mariupol, the strategic eastern port city on the Azov Sea.

Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukraine’s forces of shelling a school, kindergarten, and cemetery in the villages of Kyselivka and Shyroka Balka in the Kherson region, the Russian RIA news agency said on Sunday.

The ministry gave no further details. There was no immediate response from Ukraine to the report.

But Ukraine’s military said in a bulletin on Sunday that Russian forces were fighting to break beyond Kherson’s administrative borders and prepare the way for attacks on the cities of Mykolayiv and Kryvyi Rih.

Russia’s control of Kherson will help sustain its advances to the north and west and improve its control of Crimea, British military intelligence said in a Twitter update.


Zelenskyy Urges Russian Troops Not to Fight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy switched to Russian in his nightly video address to urge Russian soldiers not to fight in Ukraine, saying even their generals expected that thousands of them would die.

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.

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


Russian Ruble to Be Used as Currency in Ukrainian City Kherson: UK Military

The British military says the Russian ruble will be used as currency in a Ukrainian city that Moscow seized earlier in the war.

The British military wrote that the city of Kherson will begin a four-month transition from the Ukrainian hryvnia to the ruble starting Sunday. The British Defense Ministry said the move is “indicative of Russian intent to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term.”

It added: “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.”

Kherson is some 450 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Russia seized the city just across the Crimean Peninsula in early March.


Jack Phillips, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.

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