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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 5

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A Ukrainian sapper searches for unexploded explosives at the remains of the Antonov An-225, the world's biggest cargo aircraft destroyed during recent fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, at the Antonov airport in Hostomel, on the outskirts of Kyiv, May 5, 2022.

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

Recap of May 5
FIGHTING
* Russian forces and the remaining Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol continue to fight pitched battles as Moscow's pledge of a three-day daytime cease-fire to allow the evacuation of civilians from the devastated complex appeared in doubt.
* Ukraine is unlikely to launch a counter-offensive in its war with Russia before mid-June, when it hopes to have received more weapons from its allies, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
* A Ukrainian commander who said Russian forces who broke into the Azovstal steel plant where many civilians and troops had been holed up for weeks, were waging "bloody battles" inside the complex.
HUMANITARIAN
* Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says that $6.5 billion has been raised at an international donors’ conference in Warsaw to provide humanitarian help for war-torn Ukraine.
* An estimated 500 Ukrainian Holocaust survivors have had to flee their homes once again for the second time in their lives.
* After civilians were evacuated from a steel mill near Mariupol, families of Ukrainian soldiers pleaded with the international community to evacuate their loved ones, who were also at the steel mill.
ECONOMY
* President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has helped launch a global crowdfunding site to raise funds to help Ukraine repel an unprovoked attack by Russia and rebuild the country once the war ends.
* A $530 million Lithuanian-Polish natural gas transmission pipeline was inaugurated, completing another stage of regional independence from Russian energy sources.
* Ukraine has enough food stocks in territory it still controls to feed the population in these areas, and has enough fuel to meet farmers' daily needs, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy said.
DIPLOMACY
* Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Russian President Vladimir Putin had apologized for his foreign minister’s comments claiming Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins.
* Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to visit, the German president's office said, three weeks after Steinmeier had been snubbed by Kyiv.
* Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned that the invasion of Ukraine could be replicated in East Asia if leading powers do not respond as one, saying peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait must be maintained.
* Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it amounted to war crimes.
SANCTIONS
* Britain has revoked the Moscow Stock Exchange's (MOEX) status as a recognized stock exchange.
* World Health Organization states will consider a resolution against Russia next week after its invasion of Ukraine, including the possible closure of a major regional office in Moscow.
* Authorities in Fiji have seized a $300 million yacht of Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov at the request of the United States.
MEDIA
* A judge in Spain ordered the provisional release of Anatoly Shariy, a Ukrainian politician-blogger accused of treason in his home country
* The European Commission released the results of a survey showing a majority of Europe’s public approves of its response to the war in Ukraine.
* An Italian parliamentary panel has opened an investigation into "disinformation" on television amid a heated debate over the frequent appearance of Russian guests on the country's news programs during the war in Ukraine.

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

8:08 p.m.: In a video address to a medical charity group, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described how Russia's invasion of his country has devastated hundreds of hospitals and other institutions and left doctors without drugs to tackle cancer or the ability to perform surgery, Reuters reported. Zelenskyy said many sites lacked even basic antibiotics in eastern and southern Ukraine, the focal points of the fighting.

"If you consider just medical infrastructure, as of today Russian troops have destroyed or damaged nearly 400 healthcare institutions: hospitals, maternity wards, outpatient clinics," he said. In areas occupied by Russian forces, he said, the situation was catastrophic, Reuters reported.

7:57 p.m.: The U.S. says it shared intelligence with Ukraine about the location of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva prior to the strike that sank the warship, an incident that was a high-profile failure for Russia's military, The Associated Press reported. An American official said Thursday that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet using its own anti-ship missiles, AP reported. But given Russia's attacks on the Ukrainian coastline from the sea, the U.S. has provided “a range of intelligence” that includes locations of those ships, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

7:09 p.m.: The United States is confident it can address any security concerns Sweden and Finland may have about the period of time after they apply for NATO membership and before they are accepted into the alliance, the White House said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Sweden and Finland are concerned they would be vulnerable to Russian threats during an application process, which could take up to a year to be approved by all 30 NATO members, the news agency reported. "We are confident that we could find ways to address any concerns either country may have about the period of time between a NATO membership application and the formal accession to the alliance," White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told a briefing.

Both Sweden and Finland are expected to make a decision about whether to apply to join NATO this month, Reuters reported.

6:12 p.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in a call that they would not recognize any Russian territorial gains in Ukraine, a German government spokesperson said in a statement, according to Reuters. The two leaders also denounced "recent comments of the Russian leadership seeking to discredit the democratically legitimized Ukrainian leadership," the spokesperson said, Reuters reported. "They agreed that Ukraine needed to be further substantially and continuously supported in the practice of its legitimate right to self-defense," the spokesperson added.

5:37 p.m.: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the war in Ukraine in a phone call on Thursday, the Turkish presidency said, adding that Erdogan congratulated Macron on his election victory, Reuters reported. "President Erdogan, who said Turkey was doing its utmost to end the war in Ukraine through diplomacy, stated it is important to support the negotiation process," Erdogan's office said in a statement.

5:07 p.m.: U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the United States was working on a strategy to ensure a steady uranium supply and that the country should not be sending any more money to Russia for the nuclear reactor fuel, Reuters reported. She was questioned during a hearing on President Joe Biden’s proposed budget whether Biden would ban imports of Russian uranium as a way to further weaken Russia. "I'll let the president make that statement, but I can say that this is a point on which I think we have a lot of agreement. We should not be sending any money to Russia for any American energy or for any other reason," she said.

4:25 p.m.: Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, at least 23 journalists have been killed in the country, according to a journalists’ union. And at least seven of those deaths took place while the journalists were on assignment, says the Committee to Protect Journalists. VOA’s Oleksii Kovalenko has this story.

3:49 p.m.: Russian troops have been stepping up their offensive in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Constant shelling is destroying civil infrastructure and local residents are forced to hide in basements. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Serhiy Horbatenko was there this week and came under shellfire on the outskirts of the city of Siversk.

3:17 p.m.: After the regime’s crackdown on protesters in Belarus following the 2020 presidential elections, some 200,000-300,000 people fled Belarus ending up as refugees in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and a number of other EU countries. Now they’re helping Ukrainian refugees and Belarusians who are being forced to move, yet again. VOA’s Maxim Moskalkov has this report.

2:30 p.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in a call on Thursday they would not recognize any Russian territorial gains in Ukraine, a German government spokesperson said in a statement, according to Reuters. The two leaders also denounced "recent comments of the Russian leadership seeking to discredit the democratically legitimized Ukrainian leadership," the spokesperson said. "They agreed that Ukraine needed to be further substantially and continuously supported in the practice of its legitimate right to self defense," the spokesperson added.

2:13 p.m.: At first glance, Russia may seem to be adapting to the tough new sanctions imposed by Western countries over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The ruble, which tumbled in the first days of the war to a record low, rebounded to its highest level since early 2020 this week. Grocery stores in Moscow are still filled with food, albeit at much higher prices, and revenue from the sale of oil and gas continues to flow into the budget. But Russia's economy is anything but out of the woods, Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF), told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian Service in an interview. The country is entering what is likely to be a very tough period as the impact of the sanctions gradually sets in, she says.

1:51 p.m.: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had apologized for his foreign minister’s comments claiming Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins, Reuters reported. Israel lambasted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week for saying Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots, describing the remarks as an “unforgivable” falsehood that debased the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust. Lavrov made the comment on Sunday when asked why Russia said it needed to “denazify” Ukraine if Zelenskiy was himself Jewish. After the call with Putin, Bennett said he had accepted the apology and thanked the Russian leader for “clarifying his regard for the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust.”

1:26 p.m.: Russian forces and the remaining Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol continue to fight pitched battles as Moscow's pledge of a three-day daytime cease-fire to allow the evacuation of civilians from the devastated complex appeared in doubt. Russia had said its forces "will open a humanitarian corridor from 08:00 to 18:00 Moscow time on May 5, 6, and 7 from the site of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed later on May 5 that that the humanitarian corridors were "functioning," but it was unclear how, given the heavy fighting, and there was no confirmation from the Ukrainian side. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

1:18 p.m.:

1:13 p.m.: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the European Union to offer his nation membership in the bloc, saying it would be a “powerful response” to Russia’s unprovoked invasion. “This war of Russia against Ukraine was planned as a prelude to a blow to a united Europe. Greater unification is a powerful response,” he told a conference via video link on Thursday, as he asked for formal candidacy for membership. Candidacy opens the door to formal membership negotiations, a process that involves the adoption of established EU law and the fulfillment of other conditions, known as accession criteria. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

1:06 p.m.: Reuters has published a special investigation into events in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, where Russian soldiers who occupied the area earlier in the war are accused of committing war crimes. Now, as Ukrainian and international prosecutors begin the work of identifying those responsible for the alleged atrocities, Reuters has found vital clues to the identities of individual Russian soldiers and military units present during the bloody occupation. Reuters spent three weeks in Bucha and interviewed more than 90 residents, reviewing photographic and video evidence these locals shared.

12:44 p.m.: In the first stage of the operation to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal steelworks, which is under attack by Russian forces in Mariupol, over 150 people were brought out by bus. Those who got out told harrowing stories of bodies strewn around the plant, heavy bombs falling on them, and invasive personal searches by Russian forces at checkpoints. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

12:26 p.m.:

12:13 p.m.: Across Europe, rising energy prices are testing the resolve of ordinary consumers and business owners who are caught between the continent’s dependence on cheap Russian energy and its revulsion over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Associated Press has this report.

12:07 p.m.: A survey finds that half of Russians remain uncritically loyal to their country, agreeing that people should support their country even if their country's actions and policies are in the wrong, VOA’s National Correspondent Steve Herman reported Thursday. This compares with 35% of Chinese and 32% of Americans who are uncritically loyal to their countries. This appears to be the first study of its kind to collect real time data from Russian, American, and Chinese citizens about the global geopolitical re-alignment. Those findings are contained in the recently launched Compass Cold War Two Index -- the work of data firm RIWI and macro strategist David Woo, who is the founder of Unbound, a global forum devoted to the promotion of fact-based debates about markets, politics, and economics.

11:56 a.m.: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned on Thursday that the invasion of Ukraine could be replicated in East Asia if leading powers do not respond as one, saying peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait must be maintained, Reuters reported. Kishida, speaking in London via a translator after a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said now was the time for the Group of Seven leading nations to solidify its unity. "Collaboration among countries sharing universal values becomes ever more vital," he said. "We must collaborate with our allies and like-minded countries, and never tolerate a unilateral attempt to change the status quo by the use of force in the Indo Pacific, especially in East Asia." He said, "Ukraine may be East Asia tomorrow."

11:49 a.m.:

11:42 a.m.: Scores of civilians, many of them women and children, remained trapped on Thursday in underground bunkers at a steel works, the last Ukrainian holdout in the ruined city of Mariupol, although Russia promised a new lull in fighting to allow them to leave. Reuters reported. A Ukrainian fighter who said he was holed up in the vast Azovstal steel works accused Russian forces of breaching the plant's defences, in violation of Moscow's ceasefire pledge, for a third day. Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also said fighting had continued in the steel works but gave no details. Russia's military did not immediately comment.

11:35 a.m.: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invited Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to visit, the German president's office said on Thursday, three weeks after Steinmeier was snubbed by Kyiv. Zelensky made the invitation during a telephone call with Steinmeier on Thursday, a source from the president's office told Agence France-Presse, during which "past irritations were cleared up" and Steinmeier expressed his "solidarity, respect and support" for Ukraine.

11:14 a.m.: According to Ukrainian news agencies, a Ukrainian cabinet body began Thursday to develop proposals for a comprehensive post-war reconstruction plan. The Reforms Office, which operates under the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, was cited as saying a working group mechanism was launched Thursday to “analyze the current situation and develop proposals for the plan for the reconstruction and development of Ukraine.” Earlier that day, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the launch of a “national fundraising platform” called United 24. The moves come as an international donors’ conference closed in Warsaw, Poland, where $6.5 billion in humanitarian aid for Ukraine was raised, The Associated Press reported.

10:52 a.m.:

10:41 a.m.: World Health Organization states will consider a resolution against Russia next week after its invasion of Ukraine, including the possible closure of a major regional office in Moscow, a document obtained by Reuters showed on Thursday. The resolution, to be considered on Tuesday, stopped short of harsher sanctions such as suspending Russia from the U.N. global health agency’s board as well as a temporary freeze of its voting rights, three diplomatic and political sources said. The move is seen as a political step that would further Western efforts to isolate Moscow, rather than having any significant health consequences for Russia or global health policy, which diplomats said they were at pains to avoid.

10:39 a.m.: The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, said Thursday in a speech at the international donor conference for Ukraine, that the “level of death, destruction, and misery of civilians affected by the international armed conflict in Ukraine is abhorrent and unacceptable.”

10:35 a.m.: With her small business upended by warfare and safety concerns rising under the frequent blare of air-raid sirens in her Ukrainian hometown, Iryna Horoshayeva finally decided, in mid-April, that it was time to go. Six weeks into Russia's full-scale invasion, she bundled up her two children and, along with her mother and the family cat, fled to neighboring Romania. But the entrepreneurial maker of air fresheners and other car cosmetics has maintained, and even expanded, a makeshift production line 700 kilometers away in Cherkasy for bulletproof vests to help the war effort. "Those of us who are abroad need to do something while we're here," Horoshayeva told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Romanian Service.

10:29 a.m.: A Ukrainian fighter holed up in a vast steel works in the southern city of Mariupol accused Russian forces of breaking a promise to allow a ceasefire on Thursday so that civilians could be evacuated, Reuters reported. Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of Ukraine's Azov Regiment, posted a video online which purported to be shot in the Azovstal steel works where Mariupol's last defenders are holding out with an estimated 200 civilians. "It is the third day that the enemy has entered the Azovstal steel plant. Heavy, bloody fighting is going on," Palamar said. "Yet again, the Russians have not kept the promise of a ceasefire and have not given an opportunity for the civilians who seek shelter ... in basements of the plant to evacuate."

10:26 a.m.: The European Commission on Thursday released the results of a survey showing a majority of Europe’s public approves of its response to the war in Ukraine.

10:23 a.m.: Authorities in Fiji have seized a $300 million yacht of Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov at the request of the United States, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday, as Washington and its allies press Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. A Fiji court had ruled on Tuesday that the United States can seize a Russian-owned superyacht, weeks after it arrived and was impounded by police. Authorities in various countries have seized luxury vessels and villas owned by Russian billionaires in response to sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a special military operation, Reuters reported.

10:21 a.m.:

10:19 a.m.: Heavy fighting raged Thursday at the shattered steel plant in Mariupol as Russian forces attempted to finish off the city’s last-ditch defenders and complete the capture of the strategically vital port, according to The Associated Press. Ukraine said its fighters drove back a Russian thrust on the plant, which was also being bombed from above. Videos shared online appeared to show the steel mill targeted by intense shelling at dawn. “The Russian troops entered the territory of Azovstal but were kicked out by our defenders,” Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on Ukrainian television. “We can say that the fighting is ongoing.” The Kremlin denied its troops were storming the plant.

10:15 a.m.:

10:09 a.m.: The European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulator warned on Thursday of increased risks to airlines due to the war in Ukraine, such as civil planes being accidentally targeted as well as an increased risk of cyber attacks, Reuters reported. “As shown by previous wars, misidentification is easy in confused arenas of warfare. The development of this risk is common to all combatants. If we add in the likelihood of jamming of electronic aids that may be involved with navigation and or...identification tools, then it is easy to see the potential for innocent aircraft being subject to missiles or radar laid weapons,” it said in a document published online.

9:58 a.m.:

9:54 a.m.: A judge in Spain on Thursday ordered the provisional release of Anatoly Shariy, a Ukrainian politician-blogger accused of treason in his home country, The Associated Press reported. Shariy was arrested on Wednesday in the coastal city of Tarragona on an international arrest warrant issued by Ukraine, according to Spain’s National Court. Court documents said Shariy is accused of “high treason and incitement of hatred.”

Shariy, who has reportedly lived in Spain since 2019, was ordered to turn in his passport and remain in the country. The court said officials in Ukraine no have 40 days to formally present a request for Shariy’s extradition. His arrest was announced on Thursday by Ukraine’s security services, who said there was reason to believe Shariy “was acting on behalf of foreign entities.”

Shariy, the founder of a political party considered by many Ukrainians to be pro-Russian, has been a vocal and active critic of Ukraine’s government. Ukrainian media reported that one of the members of the party said in February, prior to the start of the war, that Shariy had been granted asylum in the European Union.

9:47 a.m.: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, amid a rift over a visit to Kyiv last month that was cancelled at the last minute by Ukraine. Steinmeier’s office said in a statement that the two leaders spoke by phone on Thursday, describing the call as "very important, very good." Steinmeier, a former foreign minister, has faced criticism from Kyiv for his detente policy toward Moscow, which he has since admitted was a mistake. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

9:42 a.m.: An Italian parliamentary panel has opened an investigation into "disinformation" on television amid a heated debate over the frequent appearance of Russian guests on the country's news programs during the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported Thursday. The Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic which oversees the intelligence services, said it had summoned the heads of Italy's state TV network, state security agency and communications watchdog. The panel said it was looking into "foreign interference and disinformation activity ... with particular reference to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine." Prime Minister Mario Draghi has taken a tough line on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, but opinion polls show that in Italy - unlike in Europe's other G7 states Britain, France, and Germany - there is little public support for sending weapons to Ukraine.

9:37 a.m.: The Holocaust is at the center of a growing diplomatic row between Moscow and Jerusalem. This week, Russia accused Israel of supporting what Moscow describes as the “neo-Nazi regime” in Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov angered Israelis when he said that even Jews like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can be antisemitic, and that Hitler had Jewish blood. Meanwhile, an estimated 500 Ukrainian Holocaust survivors have had to flee their homes once again for the second time in their lives. VOA’s Linda Gradstein and Ricki Rosen report from the Israeli town of Petach Tikva.

Ukrainian Holocaust Survivors Flee to Israel
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9:22 a.m.: A television channel in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region is reporting that shots have been fired near one of its border crossings with Ukraine. The report on May 5, which comes after several similar alleged incidents in Moscow-backed Transdniester since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, could not be independently verified. On its Telegram channel, the TSV channel cited a source in Transdniester's security forces as saying the alleged incident occurred close to the Pervomaysk-Cuciurgan border crossing in southern Transdniester. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

8:33 a.m.: Spanish authorities have detained a pro-Russian Ukrainian blogger and aspiring politician on an international arrest warrant for suspected treason, a police source told Reuters on Thursday. The source said Anatoliy Shariy, a vocal critic of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his pro-Western government, had been detained in the coastal city of Tarragona in Catalonia, without providing further details. Earlier, Ukraine’s SBU security service said in a statement Shariy was detained on Wednesday in an operation coordinated between Ukrainian authorities and Spanish police on suspicion of committing treason and the crime of “breaching the equal rights of citizens” based on race, nationality or other attributes. Ukraine declared Shariy a suspect a year before Russia’s invasion of its neighbour on February 24.

8:24 a.m.: A $530 million Lithuanian-Polish natural gas transmission pipeline was inaugurated Thursday, completing another stage of regional independence from Russian energy sources, The Associated Press reported. The Gas Interconnection Poland-Lithuania pipeline that runs more than 310 miles, comes “at a time when Russia has once again tried to blackmail us using gas,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said at the inauguration. Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingridas Simonyte added that “any reduction or disappearance of this source of funding would have a very significant impact on the Russian economy and the ability to continue financing the war in Ukraine.” The Lithuania-Poland leg is integrated with pipelines in the other two Baltic states – Estonia and Latvia – and Finland, and into the European Union gas transmission system. Before the pipeline was built, the four countries could only receive pipeline gas from Russia.

8:17 a.m.:

8:06 a.m.: With the evacuation of some civilians from a steel mill besieged by Russian forces in the port of Mariupol, attention is turning to the fate of hundreds of Ukrainian troops still inside after weeks in the plant’s warren of underground tunnels and bunkers. Their choice seems to be either fighting to the death or surrendering in hopes of being spared under the terms of international humanitarian law. But experts say the troops are unlikely to be afforded any easy exit and may have difficulty getting out as free men or even alive. “They have the right to fight until they are dead, but if they surrender to Russia, they can be detained,” said Marcho Sassoli, a professor of international law at the University of Geneva. “It’s simply their choice.” The Associated Press has this story.

8:01 a.m.: Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says that $6.5 billion has been raised at an international donors’ conference in Warsaw to provide humanitarian help for war-torn Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. The conference on Thursday was co-hosted by Poland and Sweden and attended by prime ministers and ambassadors representing many European countries, as well as countries further afield and some businesses. Much of the world has responded to the war in Ukraine with an outpouring of humanitarian support. But as the war drags on for weeks, the humanitarian needs in Ukraine have grown more acute. In addition to the thousands killed, millions of people have been displaced, and there are increasing reports of people being tortured and raped.

7:54 a.m.: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has helped launch a global crowdfunding site to raise funds to help Ukraine repel an unprovoked attack by Russia and rebuild the country once the war ends, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Speaking in English in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday, Zelensky said all funds raised on the site will be transferred to the Ukrainian central bank, where they will be disbursed to the "relevant ministries.” "In one click, you can donate funds to protect our defenders, to save our civilians and to rebuild Ukraine," Zelenskyy said in the video as he launched the United24 platform.

7:41 a.m.: The chief commander of Ukraine's armed forces said on Thursday his country needed multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to defend against Russian cruise missiles, Reuters reported. General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said after briefing U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the military situation in Ukraine that Russia had resumed cruise missile strikes. "Therefore, the issue of providing Ukraine with multiple launch missile systems such as M142 HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) and M270 MLRS is crucial," he said.

7:38 a.m.: A cheap Soviet weapon has been adapted to drone warfare to destroy valuable Russian armor. Ukrainian fighters have found a new use for outdated grenades that is proving spectacularly effective at destroying Russian tanks and other armored vehicles. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report on how Ukraine uses obsolete Soviet grenades to destroy Russian tanks.

7:27 a.m.: Russia's foreign ministry on Thursday said it had declared seven employees of the Danish embassy in Moscow 'persona non grata' in response to a similar move by Copenhagen last month, with Moscow also objecting to Denmark's military assistance to Ukraine. The ministry said Denmark's openly anti-Russian policy was seriously damaging bilateral relations and that Russia reserved the right to take additional steps in response. Denmark's foreign ministry confirmed in an emailed statement it had been informed that four diplomats and three other employees at its embassy in Moscow would be expelled, Reuters reported.

7:22 a.m.: U.S. first lady Jill Biden will visit Romania and Slovakia from May 5 to May 9 to meet U.S. service members and embassy personnel, Ukrainian refugees, humanitarian aid workers, and teachers, her office said. During her trip, Biden will visit U.S. service members in Romania on May 6 before heading to Bucharest, where on May 7 she will meet with members of the Romanian government, U.S. Embassy staff, and teachers working with displaced Ukrainian children, the statement from her office said. Her trip also includes a visit to the Slovak capital, Bratislava, to meet with government official and U.S. Embassy staff, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

7:18 a.m.: Ukraine is unlikely to launch a counter-offensive in its war with Russia before mid-June, when it hopes to have received more weapons from its allies, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday, according to Reuters. Political adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also said he did not expect Russia's offensive in Ukraine to produce any "significant results" by May 9, when Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. He said fighting continued at the Azovstal steel works where Ukrainian fighters and some civilians are holed up in the city of Mariupol but gave no details.

7:13 a.m.: In the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, authorities have opened a special center to accommodate displaced civilians fleeing from Mariupol. VOA’s Yaroslava Movchan has this story.

Ukraine’s Mariupol Refugees Find Peace, Safety in Dnipro
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7:02 a.m.: A Russian lawmaker taking part in talks with Ukraine said negotiations were difficult and accused representatives from Kyiv of "rolling back" on existing agreements, TASS news agency reported on Thursday. "I am one of the four negotiators from the Russian side, however, it is difficult to negotiate. Ukrainian counterparts come to an agreement, and then roll back", TASS cited negotiator Leonid Slutsky as saying, according to Reuters.

6:59 a.m.: European Council President Charles Michel called for support for Ukraine at an international donor conference in Warsaw with a priority on funding humanitarian aid, Ukrainian government operations and reconstruction efforts.

“This is a concrete expression of our commitment to Ukraine together with help and support of external donors,” Michel said. “We must act now to address the immediate suffering of the Ukrainian people both in and outside Ukraine.”

6:47 a.m.: In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian Service in Kyiv, former Gazprombank executive Igor Volobuyev explains why he felt he had to flee Russia and return to his native Ukraine. Volobuyev, a Russian citizen, said on April 28 he believes President Vladimir Putin will escalate the war in Ukraine.

6:32 a.m.: Ukraine has enough food stocks in territory it still controls to feed the population in these areas, and has enough fuel to meet farmers' daily needs, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy said on Thursday. He said Ukraine had stepped up grain exports by using alternative routes in April after Russia blocked ports on the Black Sea, and that he expected grain exports to increase further in May, Reuters reported.

6:27 a.m.: Britain has revoked the Moscow Stock Exchange's (MOEX) status as a recognized stock exchange in response to restrictions that the Bank of Russia had placed on foreign investors following the implementation of financial sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The U.K.'s Revenue and Customs department (HMRC) updated its list of "designated recognized stock exchanges" on Thursday, noting the designation for the MOEX had been revoked effective immediately. Last month the British government signalled the move was coming, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

6:21 a.m.: With the help of international experts, Ukraine rushes to collect evidence of widespread war crimes, using 21st century technology to bring perpetrators to justice. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias has this report.

(WARNING: This video contains graphic images.)

A Trove of Digital Evidence Documents War Crimes in Ukraine
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6:19 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Thursday that the United States, Britain and other NATO countries were “constantly” feeding intelligence to Ukraine but this would not stop Russia from achieving its military objectives there, Reuters reported. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was responding to a New York Times report that the United States had provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces kill a dozen Russian generals. “Our military is well aware that the United States, Britain and NATO as a whole are constantly transmitting intelligence and other parameters to the Ukrainian armed forces,” he told reporters. He said this, and the supply of Western weapons, “do not contribute to the quick completion of the (Russian) operation, but at the same time are not capable of hindering the achievement of the goals set.”

6:15 a.m.:

6:06 a.m.: The United States is giving Ukraine 16 Mi-17 helicopters that Washington had procured for Afghanistan, a U.S. government agency charged with monitoring Afghan events said. VOA’s Ayaz Gul reports that the transfer of the helicopters to Ukraine is underway.

5:58 a.m.:

5:55 a.m.: During an interview with The Associated Press in Minsk, Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko said he did not think Russia’s military action in Ukraine would “drag on this way,” as he accused Ukraine of “provoking Russia” and being uninterested in peace talks. Russian forces used Belarus as a staging point ahead of their February 24 invasion, operating under the pretext of military exercises as President Vladimir Putin denied he would attack Ukraine.

Belarus launched its own military exercises this week, but Lukashenko said they posed no threat.

“We do not threaten anyone, and we are not going to threaten and will not do it,” Lukashenko said during the interview. “Moreover, we can’t threaten — we know who opposes us, so to unleash some kind of a conflict, some kind of war here in the West is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state. So, the West can sleep peacefully.”

4:50 a.m.: Two decades after Russian forces destroyed their capital the same way they are destroying Mariupol, Chechen refugees still live in fear, according to this report by Agence France-Presse.

4:30 a.m.: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday he condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it amounted to war crimes, Reuters reported.

Kishida was speaking in London following an extended visit to Southeast Asia. Japan had hoped to hold talks on Russia’s invasion and consolidate responses in Southeast Asia, where only one nation, Singapore, has joined sanctions against Russia, officials say.

3:35 a.m.: VOA’s Eastern Europe bureau chief Myroslava Gongadze tweets that donors are gathering in Warsaw to generate support for Ukraine.

3:30 a.m.: Reuters reported that two villages in Russia’s Belgorod region bordering Ukraine have been shelled by Ukraine, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Thursday, adding that there were no civilian casualties.

“There is shelling from the Ukrainian side on Zhuravlyovka and Nekhoteevka,” he said.

3:10 a.m.: VOA’s Eastern Europe bureau chief Myroslava Gongadze tweets that the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant makes no mention of the Ukrainian soldiers who have been defending the civilians at the plant.

2:27 a.m.: While many civilians have been evacuated from a steel mill in Mariupol, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers remain in the sprawling complex. The Associated Press reports that at least two wives of the fighters are pleading with the international community to evacuate their loved ones.

1:16 a.m.: Britain’s defense ministry said Thursday that with forces in Belarus conducting regular military exercises, Russia is likely to "inflate the threat posed to Ukraine" by Belarus in order to keep more Ukrainian forces in the northern part of the country and not deploying to eastern Ukraine.

1:10 a.m.: Reuters reported that five civilians have been killed by shelling from Russian forces in Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the past 24 hours, governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Thursday. Gaidai said the shelling focused on Sievierodonetsk and Popasna, Hirske and Lysychansk.

1 a.m.: Russia pledged to observe a cease-fire Thursday in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where its forces have controlled all but a steel plant complex where Ukrainian troops are holed up along with civilians the United Nations is working to evacuate. Russia said its daytime cease-fire would continue again Friday and Saturday to facilitate more evacuations from the Azovstal site.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an early morning address Thursday, said a long cease-fire was needed to evacuate the remaining civilians in Mariupol. “It will take time simply to lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters. In the present conditions, we cannot use heavy equipment to clear the rubble away. It all has to be done by hand,” he said.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Ned Price expressed skepticism about Russia’s commitment to a cease-fire. “What we have consistently seen, and we’ve seen this even in recent days, is the tendency on the part of the Russian Federation to embrace a so‑called humanitarian pause to cloak itself in the guise of an actor that has humanitarian concerns only to quickly and promptly resume shelling and violence, including against civilians who are trapped in besieged areas, including in Mariupol.”

12:46 p.m.: The Washington Post posts a video documenting one family’s escape from Mariupol.

12:29 a.m.: CNN quotes a Ukrainian commander who said Russian forces who broke into the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are waging "bloody battles" inside the complex.

12:01 a.m.: The Holocaust is at the center of a growing diplomatic row between Moscow and Jerusalem. This week, Russia accused Israel of supporting what Moscow describes as the “neo-Nazi regime” in Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov angered Israelis when he said that even Jews like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can be antisemitic, and that Hitler had Jewish blood. Meanwhile, an estimated 500 Ukrainian Holocaust survivors have had to flee their homes once again for the second time in their lives. Linda Gradstein reports from the Israeli town of Petach Tikva.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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