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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 3


A family of Ukrainian evacuees from Mariupol embraces after arriving at a registration center for internally displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, May 3, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

Recap of May 3
FIGHTING
* The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment that is holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has confirmed to The Associated Press that Russian forces have started to storm the plant.
* Britain will donate 13 armored vehicles to help evacuate civilians from besieged areas in the east of Ukraine, the government said.
* Ukraine’s Parliament, meeting in Kyiv, passed a law banning the activities of pro-Russian political parties.
HUMANITARIAN
*A group of 20 children from an orphanage in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, has safely arrived in Slovenia where they will stay until the end of the war.
* A World Health Organization spokesperson confirmed that its European region would hold a special meeting next week on the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on health and health care.
ECONOMY
* Ukrainian farmers are being forced to work at gunpoint and some have had their farms confiscated, according to reports from inside Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian forces.
* Millions of Ukrainian civilians likely face several weeks – possibly longer – of fuel disruptions due to Moscow's attacks on energy infrastructure, transportation bottlenecks and a supply cutoff by Russia and Belarus.
DIPLOMACY
* Russian President Vladimir Putin has told French President Emmanuel Macron that Moscow is ready for talks with Ukraine.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukraine he believed it would defeat Russia and expose the "gigantic error" of the Kremlin's invasion as he invoked Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill to underline his support for Kyiv.
* India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.
SANCTIONS
* The European Union’s top diplomat says the bloc’s executive branch is on the cusp of proposing a new raft of sanctions against Russia, including on oil.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin put the West on notice that he could terminate exports and deals, the Kremlin's toughest response yet to the sanctions burden imposed by the United States and allies over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
* A Fijian court has ruled that a Russian-owned superyacht can be seized under a U.S. warrant as part of the sanctions imposed by Washington on Moscow over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
ECONOMY
* Mykhailo Federov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister of Ukraine and minister of digital transformation, tweeted photos of efforts to repair damaged communications infrastructure and restore internet connections for people living in the Kyiv region.
* Ukraine is forecast to have a significant shortage of grain storing facilities in the 2022-23 season due to a sharp fall in exports resulting from Russia’s invasion.
MEDIA
* The war waged by Russia against Ukraine is creating devastating consequences for press freedom in the region, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said as it released its annual World Press Freedom Index.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

9:04 p.m.: Ambassadors from the 27 European Union countries will meet on Wednesday to discuss a new package of sanctions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but some members are jockeying to opt out of an oil embargo. Slovakia, which like Hungary is almost 100% dependent for fuel on Russian crude coming through the Druzbha pipeline, said it would seek an exemption from any Russian oil embargo, AFP reported.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries are to meet Wednesday to give the plan a once-over, and it will need unanimous approval before going into effect, AFP reported.

8:28 p.m.: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly video address, told Ukrainians about the evacuation of some citizens from the besieged port city of Mariupol, saying “it took a lot of effort, long negotiations. …"

7:06 p.m.: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will chair a U.N. ministerial meeting on food insecurity across the globe, impacted by the war in Ukraine and other conflicts, on May 18 to review current and future humanitarian needs, The Associated Press reported. The United States holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council this month and on May 19, Blinken will chair a meeting where its 15 members will consider how to make sure that food insecurity does not “drive new conflicts, instability, particularly in fragile states,” she said, according to the AP.

5:57 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden traveled to Troy, Alabama, to visit the plant where workers are making anti-tank missiles that are being shipped to Ukrainian fighters. He praised the workers, saying they were “making it possible for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves.”

“Quite frankly,” he said, the Ukrainians were “making fools of the Russian military in many instances. ... The weapons manufactured by your hands are in the hands of Ukrainian heroes. Thank you for what you do."

5:07 p.m.: Every week, the Ukrainian diaspora in Los Angeles get together to support their home in Ukraine. VOA’s Angelina Bagdasaryan has the story of the two women behind one unique show of support in this report.

4:23 p.m.: Washington’s Uniting for Ukraine program aims to streamline how Ukrainian refugees come to the United States. From the U.S.-Mexico border, Genia Dulot reports for VOA on what the plan means for Ukrainian refugees.

3:18 p.m.: Ukrainian troops southeast of Kharkiv survey heavy damage to a community cultural center, reflecting on the impact on locals, who are now all but gone. One soldier with experience fighting for both sides says he joined the Ukrainian defense forces after seeing what Russians did to non-combatants in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Correspondent Maryan Kushnir with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

2:30 p.m.: VOA’s Eastern Europe Bureau Chief, Myroslava Gongadze, spoke with U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as she and the rest of the U.S. congressional delegation laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Warsaw, Poland, on a trip to the region earlier this week.

VOA Interviews Nancy Pelosi in Poland
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2:26 p.m.: Dozens of evacuees who took refuge for weeks in the bunkers of a steel works in Russian-occupied Mariupol reached the safety of Ukrainian-controlled Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday. Exhausted-looking people, including young children and pensioners laden with bags, clambered off buses that pulled into a car park in southeastern Ukraine after escaping the ruins of their hometown where Russia now claims control, Reuters reported. “We had said goodbye to life, we didn’t think anyone knew we were there,” said Valentina Sytnykova, 70, who said she sheltered in the Azovstal steel works for two months with her son and 10-year-old granddaughter.

2:23 p.m.: Russian strikes have apparently targeted the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, The Associated Press reported. The strikes happened Tuesday evening in multiple directions. At least four distinct explosions could be heard from downtown Lviv. It wasn’t immediately clear what was targeted. Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on a social message app that those in the city should take shelter. Trains coming out of Lviv stopped service. Car alarms went off after the blasts and emergency sirens could be heard. Electricity flickered momentarily in the city. Sadovyi acknowledged in another message the attacks had affected the power supply, without elaborating.

2:15 p.m.:

1:57 p.m.: The International Committee of the Red Cross is struggling with an image problem in Ukraine, The New Humanitarian said in a news feature t published Tuesday titled “Evacuation challenges and bad optics: Why Ukrainians are losing faith in the ICRC.” Since Russia launched its invasion February 24, the ICRC “has found itself engulfed by a neutrality row, marked by unsubstantiated claims that it has been abetting the forced evacuation of civilians to Russia and broader perceptions that it hasn’t done enough to assist Ukrainians,” The New Humanitarian reported. The ICRC says both sets of allegations are false, and that they are part of a deliberate misinformation campaign, The New Humanitarian noted. “But the fallout has affected not only the ICRC but also the Ukrainian Red Cross – a related but independent national organization.”

1:19 p.m.:

1:08 p.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday that he is willing to work with international organizations to help lift the Russian embargo on Ukrainian food exports via the Black Sea, Macron's office said. The Elysee office also said Macron had reiterated that a ceasefire was needed in Ukraine and that he had told Putin that he was deeply concerned about the situation in Donbas and Mariupol. "I have called on Russia to live up to its international responsibility as a UN Security Council member by putting an end to this devastating attack," a statement quoted Macron as saying, according to Reuters.

12:58 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday. They both assured lawmakers that security aid to Ukraine is getting to where it needs to go. Austin said that there was no danger in depleting U.S. stockpiles of Javelins and Stinger missiles, saying “we will never go below our minimum requirements for our stockpiles.” Austin also assessed the weaknesses in Russia’s offensive so far, saying “They will learn from the lessons, learn from what they did in the early stages…But some things they won’t be able to correct.” VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin followed the testimony and shared more details on Twitter.

12:46 p.m.: Ukraine’s prosecutor general accused Russia on Tuesday of using rape as a tactic of war and described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “the main war criminal of the 21st century,” Reuters reported. Russia has previously denied targeting civilians and has rejected allegations that its forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the accusations and has dismissed previous suggestions that Putin is a war criminal.Visiting the devastated city of Irpin near Kyiv, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Ukraine was collecting information on allegations of rape, torture and other suspected war crimes by Russian forces.

12:39 p.m.: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the safe evacuation of dozens of people Tuesday from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported. “I am pleased that more than 100 civilians have successfully been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in an operation successfully coordinated by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Guterres said. “I hope the continued coordination with Kyiv and Moscow will lead to more humanitarian pauses that will allow civilians safe passage away from the fighting and aid to reach people where the needs are greatest,” he added.

Meanwhile, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, speaking from Zaporizhzhia, said she doesn’t know how many civilians remain inside Azovstal. She said it’s huge and many people just couldn’t make it out, especially the elderly, because it involved lots of walking. She said some people were too afraid to leave, because they didn’t know what would happen to them when they got out. Lubrani said today’s operation was very important in building confidence, so that people still inside the plant will hear that the evacuees arrived safely in Zaporizhzhia. “I want to believe this operation is a stepping stone to more operations that need to take place,” Lubrani said.

12:35 p.m.: Ukrainian farmers are being forced to work at gunpoint and some have had their farms confiscated, according to reports from inside Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian forces. Meanwhile, farmers on Ukrainian-held land are wearing bulletproof vests and helmets to protect themselves as they work.

12:14 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement on the occasion of World Press Freedom day Tuesday. “We live in perilous times for press freedom. At least eleven journalists have been killed in Ukraine in recent weeks. Another 11 have been wounded by gunfire. Others have been kidnapped and assaulted, and at least one remains missing,” he said. “In Russia, the Kremlin has tightened its vice-grip on civil society, including through passage of a “disinformation” law intended to silence those speaking the truth,” he added. “The free press is not the enemy of the people. Quite the opposite, when driven by a quest to illuminate and educate, not inflame or entertain, the free press is the guardian of truth,” Biden said.

12:07 p.m.:

11:52 a.m.: The Mexican city of Tijuana has become the gateway for thousands of Ukrainians hoping to ask for asylum and enter the United States under humanitarian grounds. VOA’s Celia Mendoza reports.

US, Mexico Open Their Doors to Ukrainian Refugees
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11:44 a.m.: The European Union’s top diplomat says the bloc’s executive branch is on the cusp of proposing a new raft of sanctions against Russia, including on oil, The Associated Press reported. The union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter that the executive is working on the sixth package of sanctions. The sanctions can only enter force once they are published in the EU’s Official Journal. EU ambassadors are scheduled to meet on Wednesday. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is also likely to explain the proposals early Wednesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

11:36 a.m.: A coalition of 25 international human rights organizations has called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to condemn the arrest by Russian authorities of outspoken Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza. In a joint statement, the rights groups also urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, along with "all other relevant UN human rights mandate-holders and special procedures," to condemn the imprisonment of Kara-Murza and to demand his immediate release, along with all other prisoners of conscience detained for speaking out since the start of the war Russia has launched against Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

11:21 a.m.:

11:15 a.m.: A group of 20 children from an orphanage in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, has safely arrived in Slovenia where they will stay until the end of the war, The Associated Press reported. Officials said Wednesday that the children are mostly toddlers who travelled together with orphanage staff, doctors, nurses, and their families. The group will be staying near the western town of Postojna and will be granted temporary protection status in the small European Union country. Local civil protection commander Sandi Curk says “the arrival was quite emotional.” Curk says there have been no problems along the route and that the trip lasted for 24 hours.

11:01 a.m.: Volunteers in Cape Town on Tuesday followed a tradition that took root in South Africa nearly 40 years ago at the height of apartheid, providing a plate of food to less fortunate families to celebrate the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. This time there is an added urgency to their gesture of humanity, as spiraling inflation driven by the Ukraine conflict has pushed up staple food prices, making it tougher for cash-strapped consumers in Africa's most advanced economy.

10:32 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin has told French President Emmanuel Macron that Moscow is ready for talks with Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. The Kremlin said in its readout of Tuesday’s call that “despite Kyiv’s inconsistency and its lack of readiness for serious work, the Russian side is still ready for dialogue.” The Kremlin added that Putin also informed Macron about the course of Russia’s “special military operation.” It added that the two leaders also discussed the global food security and Putin underlined that Western sanctions have exacerbated the situation.

10:17 a.m.: Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have been considering applying for membership of the NATO military alliance, which would mark a major policy shift for the Nordic region. Reuters provided the latest about the process and the key points under discussion.

10:06 a.m.: The International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday released a statement saying several dozen civilians left the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol in a five-day safe passage operation that it coordinated along with the United Nations and parties to the conflict. A convoy of buses and ambulances, accompanied by the ICRC and UN, was joined by families and individuals in private vehicles. In all, over 100 people reached the city of Zaporizhzhia Tuesday. Other people who emerged from the steel plant went elsewhere, the ICRC said, noting that it did not accompany those civilians. Pascal Hundt, the ICRC head of delegation in Ukraine, said he had hoped more people would have been able to join this “complex operation” and he said similar agreements were “urgently needed” to evacuate more civilians trapped by the hostilities.

10:02 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin put the West on notice on Tuesday that he could terminate exports and deals, the Kremlin's toughest response yet to the sanctions burden imposed by the United States and allies over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. Putin, Russia's paramount leader since 1999, signed a broad decree on Tuesday which forbade the export of products and raw materials to people and entities on a sanctions list that he instructed the government to draw up within 10 days. The decree, which came into force with its publication, gives Moscow the power to sow chaos across markets as it could at any moment halt exports or tear up contracts with an entity or individual it has sanctioned.

9:45 a.m.: Ukraine’s Parliament, meeting on Tuesday in Kyiv, passed a law banning the activities of pro-Russian political parties, according to an official statement shared on Twitter.

9:37 a.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday no-one could assume that Russia would not attack other countries given its violation of international law in Ukraine and Germany would support Finland and Sweden if they decided to join NATO. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine broke the post World War Two order and was forcing Europe to bolster its defence strategy, Scholz said in a statement to media flanked by the prime ministers of Sweden and Finland Magdalena Andersson and Sanna Marin, Reuters reported.

9:32 a.m.: On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Federov, tweeted photos of efforts to repair damaged communications infrastructure and restore internet connections for people living in the Kyiv region.

9:29 a.m.: A U.N. humanitarian official said on Tuesday that it had successfully evacuated some 101 people from the Azovstal steel plant, saying that most of the evacuees were in Zaporizhzhia, where they are receiving humanitarian assistance, Reuters reported. “Thanks to the operation, 101 women, men, children, and older persons could finally leave the bunkers below the Azovstal steelworks and see the daylight after two months,” Osnat Lubrani, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said in a statement sent to journalists. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which was also involved in the safe passage operation, released a parallel statement saying some 100 people from the Mariupol plant area had reached Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday. Among them were some wounded, it added.

9:12 a.m.: Olena Tregub, Ukraine’s Head of Defense Anti-Corruption Commission, on Tuesday shared a video on Twitter showing what she said were the bodies of two civilian women killed during Russian shelling at the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

9:04 a.m.: The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment that is holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has confirmed to The Associated Press that Russian forces have started to storm the plant on Tuesday. The move comes almost two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered its military not to storm the plant, but rather block it off. Asked about the reports in Ukrainian media that the huge steelworks – the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in a city otherwise controlled by Moscow’s forces – was being stormed, Sviatoslav Palamar told the AP that “it is true.” The reports come amid a U.N. effort to evacuate civilians from the plant.

8:59 a.m.: Ukraine’s Parliament sent out messages on Twitter Tuesday thanking U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his support, and sharing a video of his speech which was delivered via videolink to parliamentarians meeting in Kyiv.

8:57 a.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukraine on Tuesday he believed it would defeat Russia and expose the "gigantic error" of the Kremlin's invasion as he invoked Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill to underline his support for Kyiv. Becoming the first Western leader to address Ukraine's parliament since the start of Russia's invasion on February 24, Johnson saluted the country's bravery in exploding "the myth of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's invincibility," Reuters reported. "I have one message for you today: Ukraine will win, Ukraine will be free," Johnson told the lawmakers via videolink, after standing for the Ukrainian national anthem and being introduced by the speaker.

8:52 a.m.:

8:41 a.m.: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow, Reuters reported. "We appealed for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and for the adoption of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the problem," Modi said at a press briefing in Copenhagen.

8:33 a.m.: BRINC, a company based in Seattle, Washington, is producing special drones to assist Ukraine’s armed forces. The drones are used in search and rescue missions and can provide eyes in places where it’s too dangerous to send people. VOA’s Khrystyna Shevchenko has this story.

US Company Produces Drones for Ukrainian Armed Forces
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8:29 a.m.: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova on Tuesday said that the government, in cooperation with the International Commission on Missing Persons, had obtained the first DNA samples to identify victims of Russian aggression in the town of Makariv.

8:25 a.m.: Millions of Ukrainian civilians likely face several weeks – possibly longer – of fuel disruptions due to Moscow's attacks on energy infrastructure, transportation bottlenecks and a supply cutoff by Russia and Belarus, Reuters reported Tuesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pledged to take steps by mid-May to end the shortages that have closed about half of the country's approximately 7,000 fuel stations and created long lines at those with limited supplies. Adding to the fuel crunch around Kyiv is an increase in demand due to large numbers of civilians returning to the region after fleeing the failed Russian onslaught on the capital, said Dmytro Mysko, who manages three BRSM Oil service stations.

8:21 a.m.: Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emine Dzheppar, on Tuesday tweeted photos of bullet-riddled fences in the town of Hostomel, which residents had turned into artwork.

8:17 a.m.: Britain will donate 13 armoured vehicles to help evacuate civilians from besieged areas in the east of Ukraine, the government said on Tuesday. "This latest donation of armoured vehicles will help protect innocent Ukrainians attempting to flee Russian shelling and support Ukrainian officials carrying out vital work," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement. Britain said the steel-plated vehicles, which can resist high velocity bullets, anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices, would also be used to transport officials to temporary command posts and to help workers rebuilding railway lines, Reuters reported. The vehicles were being donated from a foreign office fleet in response to a request from the Ukrainian government and would start arriving within days, the statement said.

8:04 a.m.:

7:59 a.m.: Russian troops started shelling and bombing the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol after Ukrainian soldiers used a ceasefire to move into firing positions there, the RIA news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying on Tuesday. “A ceasefire was declared, civilians had to be evacuated from Azovstal territory. Azov and Ukrainian servicemen, who are stationed at the plant, took advantage of it. They came out of the basement, they took up firing positions on the territory and in the factory buildings,” RIA cited the ministry as saying. “Now units of the Russian army and the Donetsk People’s Republic, using artillery and aviation, are beginning to destroy these firing positions,” the ministry said, according to Reuters.

7:57 a.m.:

7:51 a.m.: Ukraine is forecast to have a significant shortage of grain storing facilities in the 2022/23 season due to a sharp fall in exports resulting from Russia’s invasion, analyst APK-Inform said. Since Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February, the country has been forced to export grain by train over its western border or from its small Danube river ports rather than by sea, Reuters reported.Ukraine is usually a major global grain and oilseed grower, but its exports have fallen sharply. The agriculture ministry said last week it had exported 763,000 tonnes of grain in the first 29 days of April versus 2.8 million tonnes in April 2021.

7:48 a.m.: A Fijian court has ruled that a Russian-owned superyacht can be seized under a U.S. warrant as part of the sanctions imposed by Washington on Moscow over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The Suva High Court said on Tuesday that it had granted the order to seize the superyacht Amadea, which U.S. authorities say is owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, after an application was made last month by the director of public prosecutions to register a U.S. warrant to seize the vessel. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

7:41 a.m.:

7:33 a.m.: A World Health Organization spokesperson on Tuesday confirmed that its European region would hold a special meeting next week on the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on health and healthcare. "There will be a meeting on 10 May on the impact of war on Ukraine health system," said Tarik Jasarevic at a Geneva press briefing. Reuters reported last week that Kyiv had requested the meeting, citing a letter written by the Ukraine diplomatic mission in Geneva signed by some 38 other countries. Russia, one of the 53 members of WHO's Europe region, has not yet responded to a Reuters' request for comment on the event.

7:27 a.m.:

7:15 a.m.: Ukraine hoped a first column of evacuees from the ruins of a steel works in Russian-occupied Mariupol would reach the city of Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday, and hospitals prepared to treat people for anything from burns to malnutrition, Reuters reported.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said more than 200 civilians remain in the Azovstal steel plant in the Sea of Azov port city, which has been devastated by weeks of Russian bombardment, and that about 100,000 civilians were still in Mariupol. “The column (of evacuees) is moving towards Zaporizhzhia. The evacuation continues,” Boichenko said on national television.

The United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross began an operation coordinated with Ukraine and Russia on April 29 to bring out women, children and the elderly from the steel works.

6:54 a.m.:

6:42 a.m.: Two months after warning that Beijing appeared poised to help Russia in its fight against Ukraine, senior U.S. officials say they have not detected overt Chinese military and economic support, a welcome development in the tense U.S.-China relationship. U.S. officials told Reuters in recent days they remain wary about China’s long-standing support for Russia in general, but that the military and economic support that they worried about has not come to pass, at least for now. The relief comes at a pivotal time. U.S. President Joe Biden is preparing for a trip to Asia later this month dominated by how to deal with the rise of China and his administration is soon to release his first national security strategy about the emergence of China as a great power.

6:37 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden has strong bipartisan support in Congress for his latest $33 billion aid request for Ukraine, in addition to the $13.6 billion in economic, humanitarian and military assistance already sent earlier this year. In recent visits to Ukraine and Poland, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress was working quickly to pass Biden's request. But a handful of lawmakers on both the right and the left have raised concerns about the expansion of presidential authority to support a conflict in Europe. VOA's Congressional Correspondent Katherine Gypson has this story.

6:30 a.m.: On Tuesday U.S. President Joe Biden is visiting the state of Alabama where Lockheed Martin manufactures weapons including the Javelin anti-tank missiles that are among the arms the United States is sending to Ukraine. But Biden's visit is also drawing attention to a growing concern as the war drags on: Can the U.S. sustain the cadence of shipping vast amounts of arms to Ukraine while maintaining the healthy stockpile it may need if a new conflict erupts with North Korea, Iran or elsewhere? The Associated Press has this report.

6:21 a.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to announce further military aid for Ukraine on Tuesday in an address to the parliament in Kyiv -- the first by a foreign leader since Moscow's unprovoked invasion. Johnson, who is set to hail Ukraine's resistance as its "finest hour" when he speaks to the legislature by video link, will also announce another $376 million in military aid for Kyiv, his office said. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

6:18 a.m.: Russia's foreign ministry accused Israel on Tuesday of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, further escalating a row which began when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins, Reuters reported. Israel lambasted Lavrov on Monday, saying his claim - made when talking about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy who is Jewish - was an "unforgivable" falsehood that debased the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust. Leaders from several Western nations denounced Lavrov's comments and Zelenskiy accused Russia of having forgotten the lessons of World War Two. The Russian ministry said in a statement that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid's comments were "anti-historical" and "explaining to a large extent why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv."

6:13 a.m.: The outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv have the feel of an open-air morgue, where the dead lie unclaimed and unexplained, sometimes for weeks on end, as Ukrainian and Russian forces fight for control of slivers of land. There is the charred body of a man, unidentifiable, propped on an anti-tank barrier made of crossed I-beams outside a town. Associated Press journalists saw bodies formed into a Z. They were found on a front line where fighting had been taking place for days. There was no explanation for the Z formation — a symbol of the Russian invasion — nor the burned body propped on the barrier. Either could be considered a war crime, for disrespecting the dignity of the dead. It was a rare glimpse into the death and atrocities of the war, AP reported.

6:11 a.m.: Since Russia began its new invasion of Ukraine on February 24, journalists from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Current Time, a co-production with VOA, have been in the thick of the action. From front-line combat, to the flood of refugees, casualty wards, and the grisly business of identifying corpses and gathering evidence of war crimes, the coverage provided has chronicled every aspect of the war. To mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, here is a look back at the reporting on the conflict in a new 36-minute documentary titled “War in Ukraine: Unfiltered.”

6:09 a.m.: Since Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Roskomnadzor has ordered media not to use words like “war” and “invasion” and only to report information provided by official government sources. New laws against “discrediting the armed forces” by spreading “false information” have been hastily adopted, threatening violators with prison terms up to 15 years. Recently, some journalists came up with a new idea in their bid to circumvent Kremlin censorship -- a phenomenon known in Russian as samizdat, or self-publishing. The collective began publishing a weekly text edition in A4 format on their Telegram channel that could be printed out on any printer. Some say it is a modest effort to bring objective information to readers “poisoned by propaganda.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

6:06 a.m.:

6:02 a.m.: The war waged by Russia against Ukraine is creating devastating consequences for press freedom in the region, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday as it released its annual World Press Freedom Index. The Paris-based media freedom watchdog said reporters have been killed and injured while reporting on the war, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Vira Hyrych, who died in a Russian missile strike in Kyiv on April 28, and noted massive disinformation and a level of censorship not seen since the Soviet period. RFE/RL has this report.

6:00 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Tuesday that he is planning to speak with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin via the phone at around midday Paris time, Reuters reported. Putin and Macron last spoke on March 29.

5:00 a.m.: Reuters reported that Slovakia will seek an exemption from any embargo of Russian oil agreed by the European Union in its next set of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Slovakia’s Economy Ministry said on Tuesday.

The European Commission is preparing a sixth package of sanctions against Russia and is expected to finalize work on Tuesday, Reuters added.

4:30 a.m.: Russia’s war in Ukraine opened a battleground for disinformation. But how does propaganda impact media freedom? Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 Press Freedom Index has the answers. Sirwan Kajjo reports for VOA.

Propaganda a Global Threat to Free Media
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4:15 a.m.: The Russian defense ministry said Tuesday its high-precision missiles have hit a logistics center located at a military airfield near Ukraine’s Odesa which was used to deliver weaponry given to Kiev by the West, Reuters reported.

“Hangars containing unmanned Bayraktar TB2 drones, as well as missile weapons and ammunition from the U.S. and European countries, were destroyed,” the Russian ministry’s statement said.

3:35 a.m.: Ukrainian army unit takes a break after two months on frontline in this video report by Agence France-Presse.

3 a.m.: The U.K. defense ministry’s daily battleground intelligence report said on Tuesday that due to Russia’s “failures both in strategic planning and operational execution” its “military is now significantly weaker, both materially and conceptually, as a result of its invasion of Ukraine.”

The report added that Russia will have difficulty recovering, including because of sanctions, leaving the country with “lasting impact on Russia’s ability to deploy conventional military force.”

2:30 a.m.: Reuters reported that at least three civilians were killed in Russian shelling of the city of Vuhledar in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president’s office said. Some other areas of Donetsk were under constant fire and regional authorities were trying to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, the office added.

2 a.m.: Pope Francis said he has requested for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to stop the war in Ukraine but hasn’t heard back, Reuters reported. Speaking to Italy’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper, the pope also said that Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church “cannot become Putin’s altar boy” for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

1:30 a.m.: Italy said that it plans end its dependence on Russian by the second half of 2024, Reuters reported. In an interview with daily La Repubblica published Tuesday, Italy’s Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said, “we should be autonomous by the second half of 2024, we could do without importing Russian gas.”

12:47 a.m.: VOA’s State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching tweets: U.S. diplomats have been making day trips into #Lviv from #Poland where they are currently based in the past week. It is not every day, but it has been consistent, said State Department spokesperson Ned Price Monday.

12:36 a.m.: Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, warned that Russia plans to annex large portions of eastern Ukraine later this month, The Associated Press reported. Carpenter said the U.S. believes the Kremlin also plans to recognize the southern city of Kherson as an independent republic. Neither move would be recognized by the United States or its allies, he said, according to AP.

12:01 a.m.: The Associated Press reports that more than 1 million people, including 200,000 women, have been taken from Ukraine to Russia since the invasion began.

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