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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 7


A family who fled from Enerhodar is reunited upon their arrival to a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, May 6, 2022.
A family who fled from Enerhodar is reunited upon their arrival to a reception center for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, May 6, 2022.

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

Recap of May 7
* Russia says it hit Odesa with high-precision missiles Saturday, destroying Ukrainian aircraft there.
* Azovstal has emerged as a symbol of the resistance to the wider Russian effort to capture parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.
* The last of the women, children and elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal.
* Ukraine urges Doctors without Borders to evacuate Ukrainian soldiers from Azovstal.
* In his Friday night video, Zelenskyy says diplomatic efforts were underway to save the troops in Azovstal.
* Ukrainian fleeing Mariupol reach safety in Zaporizhzhia.
* Britain pledges 1.3 billion pounds of additional military aid to Ukraine.
* Russia holds its last rehearsal for its annual Victory Day parade.
* Ukraine asked Doctors without Borders to help evacuate its fighters from Azovstal.
* CIA Director William Burns says Russian President Putin doesn’t believe he can afford to lose.
* Jill Biden arrives in Slovakia, the second stop on her four-day trip.
* Italy impounds a mega yacht that may belong to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
* WHO is gathering evidence of war crimes in Ukraine.
* Former British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says sanctions on Russia should have been sooner and harsher.

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

8:25 p.m.: Ukraine has accused Russia of dropping a bomb on a school in Luhansk region where 90 people were taking shelter, CNN and other news media reported.

Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said a Russian aircraft had dropped a bomb on the school in the village of Bilohorivka, which is about 7 miles from the front lines.

Hayday said 30 people had so far been rescued from the rubble.

7:58 p.m.: First lady Jill Biden’s four-day trip to Europe takes her to a border Sunday.

7:10 p.m.: Ukrainians are finding different ways to leave the areas under heavy fire along the southern front line of the Russian-Ukrainian war. The industrial city of Zaporizhzhia became the entry point for those who are leaving the areas under Russian control and want to stay in Ukraine instead of going to Russia. For VOA, Yan Boechat has photographs of some of the evacuees.

6:01 p.m.: More military aid for Ukraine, courtesy of the United Kingdom.

5:30 p.m.: Russia holds its final rehearsal for an annual parade marking the Soviet victory in World War II, where its military might will be showcased amid Moscow's ongoing campaign in Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to deliver a speech during the parade, which some Western officials believe could be a declaration of all-out war on Ukraine, speculation the Kremlin has dismissed as "nonsense."

4:52 p.m.: Italy has impounded a $700 million, 140-metre mega yacht as speculation swirls it could belong to Putin, Agence France-Presse reported.

An Italian investigation has helped establish "significant economic and business links" between the official owner of "Scheherazade," and "eminent people in the Russian government," as well as Russians on the West's sanctions list, the economy ministry says.

4:20 p.m.:

3:50 p.m.: Russia's defense ministry on Saturday said high-precision missiles had destroyed Ukrainian aircraft at airfields in the Artsyz, Odesa and Voznesensk regions, and that its Iskander missiles had hit U.S. and European equipment near Kharkiv, Reuters reported.

Ukraine earlier said four missiles had hit the Odesa region on Saturday, without causing casualties. Other missiles striking Odesa on Saturday had hit a furniture factory in a residential area, while the other two struck an already damaged runway strip, it said.

3:30 p.m.: Ukraine on Saturday urged aid agency Doctors Without Borders to evacuate its soldiers from their last holdout in the devastated port city of Mariupol, Agence France-Presse reported.

It called on the group to "provide medical care to the wounded people, whose human rights were violated by Russian Federation," the ministry of reintegration of temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine wrote in a statement in English.

They have been "for 72 days in a row under... ongoing shelling and attacks by the Russian army," it added.

"Now, there is a lack of medicines, water and food, wounded soldiers are dying because of gangrene and sepsis."

2:50 p.m.: The World Health Organization (WHO) is gathering evidence for a possible war crimes investigation into attacks it says it has documented by Russia on health care facilities in Ukraine, it said in Kyiv on Saturday.

Reuters reports, WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan, on an unannounced visit together with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a news conference it was the explicit responsibility of warring parties to avoid attacking health facilities, yet the WHO had already documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in Ukraine.

"Intentional attacks on health care facilities are a breach of international humanitarian law and as such - based on investigation and attribution of the attack - represent war crimes in any situation," Ryan said. "We continue to document and bear witness to these attacks ... and we trust that the U.N. system and the International Criminal Court and others will take the necessary investigations in order to assess the criminal intent behind these attacks."

Russia has denied previous accusations by Ukraine and Western nations of possible war crimes and has also denied targeting civilians in the war.

Ryan said the 200 cases did not represent the totality of attacks on Ukrainian medical facilities, only those the WHO had verified. Kyiv has said there have been around 400 such attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

2:45 p.m.: The Soviet-era steel mill of Azovstal, the last holdout in Mariupol for Ukrainian forces, has emerged as a symbol of resistance to the wider Russian effort to capture swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine in the 10-week-old war. Earlier, all women, children and elderly civilians were evacuated, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, adding that "this part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation is over."

Reuters reports under heavy bombardment, fighters and civilians were trapped for weeks in deep bunkers and tunnels that criss-cross the site, with little food, water or medicine.

Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery tried again on Saturday to storm Azovstal, Ukraine's military command said, part of a ferocious assault to dislodge the last Ukrainian defenders in the strategic port city on the Azov Sea.

Mariupol has been left in ruins by weeks of Russian bombardment and the steel mill has been largely destroyed. Several groups of civilians have left the sprawling complex over the past week during pauses in fighting.

1:10 p.m.: CIA Director William Burns said on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin believes doubling down on the military conflict in Ukraine will improve his outcome in the war. Reuters reports on an interview Burns gave at a Financial Times event in Washington during which Burns said this about Putin.

"He's in a frame of mind in which he doesn't believe he can afford to lose…. I think he's convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress," said Burns.

12:50 p.m.: All women, children and elderly have been evacuated from the Mariupol steel plant, besieged by Russian forces, VOA stringer in Ukraine Anna Chernikova reported.

12:45 p.m.: Jeremy Corbyn, the former British opposition leader, says the U.N. and the West should have been tougher on Russian President Vladimir Putin early on. According to RFE/RL, Corbyn called the Ukraine war “disgraceful” and said that Russia is “wrong at every level.” He also said that there should have been a much earlier intervention in Ukraine to try to prevent the war ever happening in the first place.

12:50 p.m.: U.S. first lady Jill Biden has arrived in Slovakia, her second stop after Romania during her four-day visit to Eastern Europe to show support for Ukraine and U.S. troops stationed in NATO countries.

10:40 a.m.: During a visit to Romania, U.S. first lady Jill Biden heard heartbreaking stories from Ukrainian women and children who fled Russia’s war and found safe haven across the border, The Associated Press reports. The U.S. first lady praised the Romanian government and relief organizations for the range of humanitarian aid they are providing to refugees. At a Romanian public school hosting refugee students, Biden saw firsthand the relief efforts to assist some of the 900,000 Ukrainians who have fled to Romania since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Most of those Ukrainians have moved on to other countries. But many — mainly women and children — have remained as the fighting back home rages. "We stand with you," Biden told mothers of some of the students after visiting classrooms.

10:35 a.m.: Millions of Russians turn to virtual private networks, an encrypted digital tunnel commonly known as VPN, to access news and information from internet sites blocked by the Russian government. According to The Washington Post, Russians are tearing a hole in the Digital Iron Curtain which has been erected by Moscow to control the narrative of the war in Ukraine.

10:30 a.m.: Defence of Ukraine, the official Twitter feed of Ukraine's defense ministry, says a Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drone destroyed another Russian ship, the landing craft of the "Serna" project. “The traditional parade of the Russian Black Sea fleet on May 9 this year will be held near Snake Island - at the bottom of the sea.” the defense ministry said in its tweet, adding what purports to be video of the ships take-down.

10:05 a.m.: Russia's most senior lawmaker on Saturday accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine which he said amounted to direct U.S. involvement in military actions against Russia, Reuters reported.

"Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country," Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

Washington and European members of the transatlantic NATO alliance have supplied Kyiv with heavy weapons to help it resist a Russian offensive that has resulted in the occupation of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine but failed to take Kyiv.

However, the U.S. and its NATO allies have repeatedly said they will not take part in the fighting themselves, in order to avoid becoming parties to the conflict.

U.S. officials have said the U.S. has provided intelligence to Ukraine to help counter the Russian assault, but have denied that this intelligence included precise targeting data.

9:50 a.m.: According to the New York Times, Ukrainian officials accused Russia of violating a cease-fire Friday that sought to create conditions for the evacuation of civilians trapped underneath the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. According to The Associated Press, speculation is growing that Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to finish the battle for Mariupol in time for Monday’s Victory Day, the biggest patriotic holiday on the Russian calendar.

9:45 a.m.: Pro-Russian forces said 50 more people were evacuated on Saturday from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where scores of civilians have been trapped for weeks alongside Ukrainian fighters holed up in the Soviet-era plant.

The territorial defense headquarters of the Russia-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said on Telegram that a total of 176 civilians had now been evacuated from the steelworks. The claim would not be independently verified.

About 50 civilians had been moved on Friday from the sprawling, bombed-out plant to a reception center in nearby Bezimenne, in the separatist DPR, whose forces are fighting alongside Russian troops to expand their control of large parts of eastern Ukraine. Dozens of civilians were also evacuated last weekend.

"Today, May 7, fifty people were evacuated from the territory of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol," the DPR said.

Mariupol has endured the most destructive bombardment of the 10-week-old war. The plant is the last part of the city - a strategic southern port on the Azov Sea - still in the hands of Ukrainian fighters. Scores of civilians have been trapped for weeks alongside them in the plant with little food, water or medicine.

8:50 a.m.: U.S. first lady Jill Biden praised the Romanian government and relief organizations for their work in helping refugees fleeing the Russian invasion in neighboring Ukraine, calling the efforts "amazing."

According to RFE/RL, Biden spoke at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest on May 7, one day after arriving in the country on an official visit to meet with U.S. troops and Romanian leaders. Nearly 860,000 Ukrainians have fled to, or passed through, Romania, escaping the war in their home country, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Around 7,000 Ukrainians cross the border and arrive in Romania daily, said Pablo Zapata, the Romanian representative for the U.N. agency.

8:40 a.m.: China's Deputy Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said on Saturday that the accusations against China's stance on the war in Ukraine are "absurd" and implied that the U.S. was using the conflict to achieve its geostrategic goals. According to the Associated Press, Le made the remarks as he was delivering a speech via videolink at a think tank forum sponsored by the China Public Diplomacy Association and Renmin University of China. "China is not involved in the conflict, even less the one who created it. So how could China be responsible?" he said.

In response to the accusation that China stood on the wrong side of history for not joining the United States and other Western countries in condemning and sanctioning Russia, Le said China pursues independent foreign policy and stands for fairness and justice.

8:30 a.m.: A full dress rehearsal of the Victory Day parade took place in Moscow's Red Square Saturday ahead of the upcoming May 9 celebrations in the Russian capital, the Associate Press reports.

According to Russian media, more than 11,000 troops will take part in events for Victory Day, the biggest patriotic holiday on the Russian calendar, marking the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany.

The preparations for May 9 events take place amid continuing military action in Ukraine. Signs of support for the military have grown across the country since February 24, the stat of the invasion, with the letter “Z” appearing on billboards and signs in the streets and subways and on television and social media.

6:06 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that Russia says it has destroyed a large stockpile of military equipment from the U.S. and European countries in Ukraine's Kharkiv region.

5:13 a.m.: Ukraine says Russian forces are blowing up bridges to prevent counter-attacks in the northeast, CNN reports.

4:05 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K.'s defense ministry says at least one of Russia's most advanced tanks, the T-90M, has been destroyed. It includes improved armor, an upgraded gun and enhanced satellite navigation systems.

"The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities," the update says. "It will take considerable time and expense for Russia to reconstitute its armed forces following this conflict. It will be particularly challenging to replace modernised and advanced equipment due to sanctions restricting Russia’s access to critical microelectronic components."

3:04 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned his people to pay attention to air raid sirens and local curfews ahead of the Russian holiday of Victory Day, The Washington Post reported. The May 9 holiday marks the Soviet Union's 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, and Ukraine fears it'll face more and stronger attacks as the holiday draws nearer.

2:09 a.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukraine's president said diplomatic efforts were under way to save the Ukrainian soldiers defending the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Al Jazeera reports.

12:02 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, says that "likely widespread civilian resistance" may disrupt Russian plans for a Victory Day event in Mariupol.

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

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