Ukraine latest: civilians evacuated from Mariupol steel plant

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Moscow is stepping up attacks in the east of the country, and called on Russian soldiers not to fight.
Image: Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

About 20 civilians were evacuated Saturday from the giant Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the besieged port city that’s suffered a weeks-long Russian assault.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Moscow is stepping up attacks in the east of the country, and called on Russian soldiers not to fight.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Zelenskiy he was “more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine and ensuring Putin fails.” Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken briefed Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the administration’s request to Congress for an additional $33 billion in aid.

The European Union is set to propose a ban on Russian oil to come into effect by the end of the year, with restrictions introduced gradually until then, officials say.

Key Developments

  • EU to Propose Phasing Out Russian Oil by End of Year
  • Biden Seeks to Lure Putin’s Top Scientists to US.
  • Putin’s Gas-for-Rubles Gambit Hits EU Fault Lines as Stakes Rise
  • China Calls Russia Relationship a ‘New Model’ for the World
  • How a Sanctioned Russian Company Gained Access to Sudan’s Gold

All times CET:

Zelenskiy Urges Russian Troops to Leave Ukraine (12:00 a.m.)

Switching to Russian in his nightly video address, Zelenskiy urged Russian soldiers not to fight and instead leave his country. “Every Russian soldier can still save his own life,” he said. “It’s better for you to survive in Russia than to perish on our land.” The president said Moscow was “accumulating additional forces” for fresh attacks in the east. “They built up reinforcements in the Kharkiv region, trying to increase pressure in Donbas,” he said.

20 Civilians Evacuated From Steel Plant, Military Says (7:26 p.m.)

Some 20 women and children were evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Saturday, according to Ukraine’s military.

In a video address on Telegram, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment, Sviatoslav Palamar, said he hoped the civilians would be transferred to Ukraine-controlled territory in Zaporizhzhya.

Earlier, the Tass news agency reported that about 25 civilians, including six children, had left the plant in what would mark the first significant evacuation from the giant industrial facility, the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol.

The United Nations has been trying to broker civilian evacuations in the port city. An estimated 2,000 Ukrainian military and 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children, remain holed up in Azovstal, which is surrounded by Russian forces and has been under heavy bombardment.

Russian Air Strikes Target Odesa Airport (5:45 p.m.)

Multiple explosions were heard around Ukraine’s major Black Sea city of Odesa early Saturday evening, CNN reported, citing witnesses. The Ukraine military’s southern operational command said on its Telegram account that the runway at the city’s airport had been damaged.

Ukraine Red Cross Says Office in Donetsk Was Bombed (4:27 p.m.)

The office bombed in Dobropillya was the relief agency’s eighth damaged or destroyed since the Russian invasion started Feb. 24, the Ukrainian Red Cross said on Twitter.

Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram that seven people including a child had been injured in the shelling of residential buildings.

Ukrainian Red Cross

@RedCrossUkraine

Our office in Dobropillia (Donetska oblast) was bombed today. It was in one of 6 residential buildings that were damaged.

Since February 24, 2022 it is the 8th office of @RedCrossUkraine, which has been damaged or destroyed.

Sent via Twitter for iPhone.

View original tweet.

Ukraine Seeks China’s Help to Stop War: Xinhua  (4:20 p.m.)

In an interview with China’s official Xinhua News Agency, Kuleba asked China to pressure Russia into making a truce. Kuleba said he believed the war wasn’t in China’s interests and asked Beijing to become one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s security.

EU to Propose Banning Russian Oil by Year-End (2:03 p.m.) 

The EU is set to propose that Russian oil be banned by the end of the year, with restrictions on imports introduced gradually until then, according to people familiar with the matter.

The EU will also push for more banks from Russia and Belarus, including Sberbank PJSC, to be cut off from SWIFT, the international payment system, said the people.

A decision on the new sanctions, the EU’s sixth round of measures against Russia, could be made as soon as the coming week at a meeting of the bloc’s ambassadors.

Macron, Zelenskiy Speak For an Hour (1:52 p.m)

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with his Ukrainian counterpart on Saturday, according to the French leader’s office.

Macron renewed his commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to the readout. He said that France will strengthen its support for Ukraine in military equipment and humanitarian aid.

Zelenskiy, on Twitter, said the pair discussed Ukraine’s path to EU membership and the investigation of war crimes.

Володимир Зеленський

@ZelenskyyUa

I keep in touch with @BorisJohnson. Spoke about the situation on the battlefield and in the blocked Mariupol. Discussed defensive support for Ukraine and the necessary diplomatic efforts to achieve peace.

Sent via Twitter Web App.

View original tweet.

Russia Says It Will Quit Space Station (12:17 p.m.)

The head of Russia’s space program said Moscow has decided to pull out of the International Space Station, state media reported, a move it’s blamed on sanctions imposed over the invasion.

“We’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice,” Roscosmos general director Dmitry Rogozin said on state television, TASS and RIA Novosti reported.

Rogozin had already threatened to end Russia’s ISS mission unless the US, Europe and Canada lifted restrictions against enterprises involved in the Russian space industry.

Spring Planting Moves Forward in Ukraine (10:52 a.m.)

Ukraine’s farmers continue to plant spring grains and oilseeds despite Russian airstrikes on agricultural infrastructure, including grain elevators, local authorities said. Empty grain storage facilities in the Dnepropetrovsk were shelled early Saturday.

Planting is ongoing in all but one region despite fighting in the east and south, with sowing of early crops already completed in six out of 24 regions apart from annexed Crimea, Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said.

Finnish President Sees NATO Decision Mid-May (10:13 a.m.)

Finland and Sweden will have made up their minds on whether to join NATO before an official heads of state meeting in mid-May, Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said, according to newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

Niinisto is due to travel to Stockholm May 17-18 to meet Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, as well as policy makers and dignitaries.

Ukraine Slowing Russian Attacks in the East, Think Tank Says (8:30 a.m.)

Ukrainian forces are slowing Russian advances in eastern Ukraine, where the battle for control of Donbas continues, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

Russian troops secured only minor advances west of Severodonetsk and failed to advance on their front around Izyum over the past day, the US-based think tank said. Counterattacks by Ukraine around Kharkiv may force Russia to redeploy some units intended for the Izyum axis.

Russia continued to redeploy troops northward from Mariupol on Friday to support efforts to capture the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russia to Move Away from US Dollar, Lavrov Tells Xinhua (3 a.m.)

Russia is seeking to move away from the US dollar and rely less on imports while strengthening its independence in key technologies in response to sanctions over the war, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Xinhua.

Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are taking place daily via video, as delegations of the two countries work toward a draft of possible agreements, Lavrov said, adding that Chinese diplomats have been briefed on the discussions.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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