The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, May 8. Click here for updates from May 7.
Ukrainian Troops Retreat From Popasna, Luhansk Governor Confirms
Ukrainian troops retreated from the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna, the governor of Luhansk region said on Sunday, confirming previous reports that it had been taken.
The head of Russia‘s republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, had said on Sunday his troops had taken control of most of Popasna.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukraine television that Ukrainian troops had retreated to take up more fortified positions, adding: “Everything was destroyed there.”
Russian forces launched a new offensive push in April along most of Ukraine‘s eastern flank, with some of most intense attacks and shelling taking place recently around Popasna in the Luhansk region.
G-7 Leaders Vow to Cut Russian Oil Imports
Leaders from the Group of Seven (G-7) developed democracies pledged Sunday to phase out or ban the import of Russian oil, as they met with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for online talks to stress their support and to display unity among Western allies on Victory in Europe Day, which marks Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945.
Cutting out Russian oil supplies “will hit hard at the main artery of (President Vladimir) Putin’s economy and deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war,” the G-7 countries—the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan—said in a statement.
“We will ensure that we do so in a timely and orderly fashion, and in ways that provide time for the world to secure alternative supplies,” they added.
Casting a look back at World War II, the leaders stressed unity in their resolve that Putin must not win.
“We owe it to the memory of all those who fought for freedom in the Second World War, to continue fighting for it today, for the people of Ukraine, Europe and the global community,” they said.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s call with the G-7 leaders and Zelenskyy lasted about an hour.
Evacuees From Azovstal Plant Arrive in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia
A convoy of buses carrying evacuees from southeastern Ukraine, including some 40 civilians who had been holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in besieged Mariupol, arrived on Sunday in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, a U.N. official said.
Osnat Lubrani, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said eight buses had arrived in the city. About 40 of the 174 evacuees on board had been rescued from the steel plant.
Lubrani said in a statement that the evacuations brought the number of people evacuated from the area in the past 10 days to more than 600.
“Our work, however, is not yet done,” she said in the statement. “The U.N. is aware that scores of people who wanted to join the evacuation convoys over the last days were unable to do so.
“We will continue our engagement with both parties to the conflict to make sure that those who want to leave have the guarantees to do so safely and in the direction of their choice.”
Trudeau Announces New Weapons for Ukraine, Reopening of Canadian Embassy in Kyiv
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new weapons and equipment for Ukraine on Sunday after an unannounced visit to the country’s capital of Kyiv.
Trudeau, addressing a news conference after talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also said Canada was imposing new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities in connection with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Today, I’m announcing more military assistance, drone cameras, satellite imagery, small arms, ammunition and other support, including funding for demining operations,” Trudeau said.
“And we’re bringing forward new sanctions on 40 Russian individuals and five entities, oligarchs and close associates of the regime in the defense sector, all of them complicit in Putin’s war,” in a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trudeau visited the town of Irpin outside Kyiv, the focal point of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian troops before the Russians withdrew late in March.
He said Canada was reopening its embassy in the Ukrainian capital.
Canada was also providing $25 million to the U.N.’s World Food Programme as part of efforts to uphold food security and would remove trade tariffs on all Ukrainian imports to Canada for next year.
US, G-7 Partners Impose New Sanctions on Russia
The United States, the European Union, and Group of Seven (G-7) allies on Sunday agreed to impose fresh sanctions against Russia, including penalizing state-controlled media, barring Western management consulting services in Russia, and tightening export controls.
The sanctions came a day before Russia’s Victory Day, which celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.
On Sunday morning, Biden participated in a virtual conference with G-7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the White House.
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States make up the G-7.
The leaders released a statement at the conclusion of their meeting pledging their support for Ukraine and imposing fresh sanctions on Russia.
“The G7 and Ukraine stand united in this difficult time and in their quest to ensure Ukraine’s democratic, prosperous future. We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine,” the statement read.
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Dozens Feared Dead in Ukraine School Bombed by Russia, Governor Says
As many as 60 people were feared to have been killed in the Russian bombing of a village school in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, the regional governor said on Sunday.
Russian forces also continued shelling the Azovstal steelworks, the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined southeastern port city of Mariupol, where soldiers from the Azov regiment vowed to keep on fighting.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said the school in Bilohorivka, where about 90 people were sheltering, was hit on Saturday by a Russian bomb that set the building ablaze for four hours.
“Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, seven of whom were injured. Sixty people were likely to have died,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that two dead bodies had been found.
Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of targeting civilians in the war, which Moscow denies.
Jill Biden Makes Unannounced Visit to Ukraine
Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine on Sunday, holding a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with First Lady Olena Zelenska to show U.S. support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
Biden became the latest high-profile American to enter Ukraine during its 10-week-old conflict with Russia.
“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” the U.S. first lady told Zelenska. “I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”
Biden spent about two hours in Ukraine, traveling by vehicle to the town of Uzhhorod, about a 10-minute drive from a Slovakian border village where she had toured a border processing facility.
Zelenska thanked Biden for her “courageous act” and said, “We understand what it takes for the U.S. first lady to come here during a war when military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day—even today.”
The two first ladies came together in a small classroom, sitting across a table from one another and greeting each other in front of reporters before they met in private. Zelenska and her children have been at an undisclosed location for their safety.
Canada’s Trudeau Visits Ukraine to Offer Support
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a surprise visit to Ukraine amid Russia’s war on the country.
Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne and Irpin Mayor Olexander Markushyn announced Trudeau’s visit to Irpin, which had been damaged by Russia’s attempt to take Kyiv at the start of the war. Markushyn posted images of Trudeau on social media, saying that the Canadian leader was shocked by the damage he saw at civilian homes.
Trudeau is the latest Western leader to visit Ukraine to offer support to the country.
His office later confirmed the visit, saying in a statement that “the prime minister is in Ukraine to meet with President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy and reaffirm Canada’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people.”
UK Pledges More Aid to Ukraine As Europe Marks VE Day
Britain will provide an extra 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in military support to Ukraine to help the country defend against Russian forces, officials said Sunday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, and leaders from other Group of Seven countries are expected to hold online talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later Sunday to discuss further support.
The meeting is partly meant to display unity among Western allies on Victory in Europe Day, which marks Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945.
The funding, which comes from British government reserves, includes 300 million pounds’ worth of military equipment promised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week, such as radar systems to target Russian artillery, GPS jamming equipment, and night vision devices.
Britain’s government said it is the highest rate of UK military spending on a conflict since Iraq and Afghanistan.
German Parliament President Meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday thanked the German parliament, the Bundestag, for approving resolutions to support Ukraine, at a meeting with the body’s president, Barbel Bas, in Kyiv.
Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the German legislature’s backing in the priority areas such as defense procurement and EU accession.
Bas became the latest in a procession of foreign leaders to make the trip after Russian forces withdrew from encircling Kyiv.
Her meeting came shortly after Zelenskyy met with Croatia’s prime minister.
Bas belongs to the ruling Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
On Tuesday, Zelenskyy met the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Friedrich Merz, currently head of the opposition party and political heir of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Emel Akan, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.