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Contact restored with Ukrainian fighters at Azovstal

May 4, 2022

A top Ukrainian lawmaker says Russian forces have entered the steel plant, but that the government is back in contact with defenders there. Meanwhile, the EU is proposing a ban on Russian oil. Relive DW's live updates.

In this photo provided by Russian news agency TASS, smoke is seen rising from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol
While the EU unveiled a new sanctions package against Russia, concerns are growing for hundreds of civilians who are still holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in MariupolImage: picture alliance/dpa/TASS
  • Russia says it will open corridors out of Mariupol steel plant this week

  • Biden to talk with G7 leaders about further sanctions on Russia

  • EU unveils embargo on Russian oil imports 

  • Russia cut off from UK services

This article is now closed. For the latest news on Ukraine, head to our new live updates.

Scholz to continue dialogue with Putin and Zelenskyy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he would continue to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"However, the situation is as it is," Scholz said, "we should not have any illusions about that."

Scholz said peace would only be possible if Russia concludes an agreement with Ukraine that is acceptable to Kyiv.

The German leader also addressed Ukraine's refusal to welcome German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, calling it "a problem for the German people."

"Ukraine must also play its part," Scholz told reporters following talks with his cabinet.

Russia testing Ukraine's resolve with strike on civilian targets, British intelligence says

The UK's Ministry of Defense said that Russia is continuing to strike non-military targets to weaken Ukrainian resolve.

Its latest military intelligence update said the targets include residential properties, schools, hospitals, and transport hubs.

It added that while Russian ground forces are focusing on eastern Ukraine, missile strikes continue across the country.

Russia's targeting of key cities such as Odesa, Kherson, and Mariupol highlights their desire to fully control access to the Black Sea, the ministry said.

Russia to cease fire at Azovstal for civilian evacuation

Russia's military said it would open humanitarian corridors from the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

"The Russian armed forces will from 8 am to 6 pm [Moscow time] on May 5, 6 and 7 open a humanitarian corridor from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians," the ministry said in an online post.

The plant is the final holdout for Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol and authorities said hundreds of civilians are also hiding in the underground network of tunnels.

On Tuesday, more than a hundred civilians evacuated from the plant by the United Nations and Red Cross arrived in Zaporizhzhia after a grueling three-day journey.

Ukraine back in contact with forces at Azovstal plant despite heavy fighting

Russian forces have entered Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant, Ukraine's ruling parliamentary faction head, David Arakhamia said.

"Russian troops are already on the territory of Azovstal," Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty quoted Arakhamia as saying.

However, he added that the government had contact with the last group of Ukrainian defenders at the plant.

Separately Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also said the last pocket of Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol was still holed up at the sprawling complex.

City authorities said around 200 civilians and more than 30 children were also still trapped there.

Earlier Mariupol's mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said said contact with the Ukrainian fighters had been lost amid heavy fighting at the plant. 

'Wide scope of violations' in Ukraine, says UN human rights monitor

The head of the UN's human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine says the international rules of war are not being complied with.

Matilda Bogner told DW that the number of attacks on civilian targets, including schools and hospitals, strongly suggests that there has been indiscriminate use of weapons.

"Unfortunately also we see summary executions. We see concerns around the treatment, torture and ill treatment of prisoners of war," she said. "These are things that unfortunately happen in many conflicts and are happening here also."

Bogner said the UN had recorded 6,600 civilian casualties in the war so far, including 3,200 deaths. But she warned the real toll was likely much higher, adding that gathering evidence was difficult because monitors did not have access to Russia-controlled areas.

"We are concerned by violations in the areas where [Russian forces] have had control and in the places where they have since withdrawn, in particular north of Kyiv — we have seen a wide scope of violations there," she said.

'Wide scope of violations' in Russia's war in Ukraine, says UN rights monitor

Macron, Modi to discuss war in Ukraine during 'working dinner'

French President Emmanuel Macron is is to host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris for a "working dinner," the Elysee Palace said.

It is the last leg of Modi's European trip, which included stops in Germany and Denmark.

Macron was hoping to prise New Delhi away from Russia.

India has avoided condemning Moscow's actions while stepping up purchases of cheap Russian oil.

France wants to "help the Indians diversify their supply" away from Russian arms and energy, officials said.

Macron will "emphasize the consequences of the war for the international order well beyond the European Union, including in Asia," the Elysee said.

It added that Macron has an "extremely warm relationship" with Modi.

Ukraine war casts shadow on EU-India relations (May 2022)

US to discuss more sanctions on Russia with G7

US President Joe Biden said he was "open" to imposing more sanctions on Russia.

Speaking to reporters at the White House Biden said he would discuss it with G7 allies in the coming days.

"We're always open to additional sanctions," Biden said while discussing the US economy.

His statement comes after the UK announced additional sanctions and the EU Commission proposed an embargo on imports of Russian oil.

Ukraine says countries blocking EU ban on Russian oil would be 'complicit' in war crimes

Kyiv said European Union countries blocking a gradual embargo on imports of Russian oil would be complicit in crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

"If there is any country in Europe who will continue to oppose the embargo on Russian oil, there will be good reason to say, this country is complicit in the crimes committed by Russia in the territory of Ukraine," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a video posted on Twitter. "They share responsibility for everything Russia does in Ukraine."

The EU has set out plans for a sixth round of sanctions against Russia including a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year.

Hungary and Slovakia have already said they wouldn't take part in the oil sanctions and would be given an extra year to find alternative suppliers.

EU unveils plans to ban Russian oil

Ukraine says Russia is upping tempo of eastern offensive

Ukraine's Defense Ministry says Russia is seeking to increase the tempo of its offensive in the eastern part of the country. 

Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said Moscow had conducted nearly 50 airstrikes on Tuesday alone.

Motuzyanyk also said Russian artillery fire and airstrikes were continuing against the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol. The last Ukrainian forces in the port city are holed up at the plant.

The spokesman said there had been renewed efforts to storm the steel works.

In addition, he said Russian strategic bombers had fired 18 rockets from airspace over the Caspian Sea at targets in Ukraine "with the aim of damaging our country's transport infrastructure." 

Russian forces massing for attack in eastern Ukraine

Navalny says he faces transfer to ‘strict regime’ prison 

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he has learned he will be transferred to a high-security penal colony some 250 kilometers (about 155 miles) east of Moscow. 

Navalny said the prison at Melehovo was notorious for its strictness and reports of torture. 

"My sentence has not yet entered into force, but the prisoners from the strict regime colony Melehovo write that they are equipping a 'prison within a prison' for me," Navalny wrote on Twitter. 

Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said that while there was abuse and torture in many Russian prisons, conditions at Melehovo were "particularly monstrous."

UK bars Russia from its accounting, PR services, and sanctions broadcasters

The United Kingdom has banned Russia from using British accountancy, management consultancy and PR services and slapped further sanctions on pro-Kremlin news outlets and journalists.

"By restricting Russia's access to our world-class management consultants, accountants and PR firms, we're ratcheting up economic pressure on the Kremlin to change course," Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said in a statement.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added, "Cutting Russia's access to British services will put more pressure on the Kremlin and ultimately help ensure [Russian President Vladimir] Putin fails in Ukraine."

The new legislation will also force social media companies, internet service providers, and app stores to block content from the Kremlin-backed news organizations, RT and Sputnik.

Both outlets had previously been banned from UK airwaves.

"For too long RT and Sputnik have churned out dangerous nonsense dressed up as serious news to justify Putin's invasion of Ukraine," Tech and Digital Economy Minister Chris Philp said.

The UK would also apply individual travel bans on some journalists working for Russia's Channel One.

German Economy Minister wars of possible oil supply disruptions to Berlin

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck warned a European embargo on Russian oil imports could lead to supply "disruptions" and price increases.

He added, however, that Germany supported the proposed ban as a response to the war in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the European Commission suggested a new round of sanctions against Moscow, including a six-month phase-out of Russian crude imports.

Habeck, specifically cited the PCK refinery in Schwedt as one that could feel the impact.

Russian oil giant Rosneft is a majority shareholder in the site, which supplies around 90% of the oil consumed in the capital Berlin and the surrounding region.

Habeck said Germany was taking steps to arrange alternative oil shipments to Schwed, but he could not rule out shortages.

"I have said a few times that we can of course not guarantee in this situation that there won't be disruptions, primarily regional disruptions," he told reporters.

'Putin has gone completely insane'

Ukraine says Russia planning military parade in Mariupol

Russia of planning to hold a World War II Victory Day parade in Mariupol on 9 May, Ukraine's military intelligence said in a statement on social media.

"The central streets of the city are urgently being cleaned of debris, bodies, and unexploded ordnance," it said.

"A large-scale propaganda campaign is underway. Russians will be shown stories about the 'joy' of locals from meeting the occupiers," the military intelligence statement added.

The 9 May Victory Day is one of Russia's most important holidays, and there was speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin could make a major announcement in Moscow.

"This is not true. This is nonsense," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to speculation that Putin may use the day to announce the mass mobilization of reservists, the Interfax news agency reported.

Asked if Putin could declare all-out war on Ukraine during his speech on Monday, Peskov replied: "No. That's nonsense."

Infografik Welche Teile der Ukraine werden von russischen Truppen kontrolliert EN

Mariupol mayor: Contact to Azovstal steel plant fighters lost

Contact has been lost with the last Ukrainian soldiers holed up, with some civilians, at the Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on national television.

On Tuesday Ukrainian commanders said Russian forces were storming the sprawling plant, which is spread out over 11 square kilometers (roughly 4 square miles) and includes a series of bunkers and tunnels. On Wednesday, the Kremlin denied Russia was storming the plant.

Boichenko said fighting has continued around the plant. 

Over the weekend, more than 100 civilians, including women, the elderly, and 17 children, were evacuated from the plant by the United Nations and Red Cross.

Keeping Ukrainian baby Davyd alive

Russia strikes key infrastructure in bid to interrupt weapons deliveries

Russia's Defense Ministry said it struck several infrastructure sites across Ukraine on Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The ministry said it used air- and sea-based missiles to hit electric power facilities located at five railway stations across Ukraine.

Russian troops also struck Ukrainian defensive strongholds as well as fuel and ammunition depots.

The strikes targeted areas near the western city of Lviv, the city of Odesa in the south, as well as Dnipropetrovsk in the southeast. Russia's Defense Ministry said the rail stations were being used to transport ammunition and weapons from the US and EU to Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbas region.

Germany's Scholz says Putin 'completely miscalculated' war on Ukraine

German Chancellor Scholz and his government sought to strike a new tone with its Ukraine policy and outline a new plan going forward on Wednesday, after facing mounting criticism.

Speaking at the end of a two-day Cabinet meeting, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The weeks since the war began have shown that Putin "completely miscalculated with his brutal invasion of Ukraine," Scholz said.

Putin is now facing "a stronger NATO" as well as "a unified European Union," Scholz said.

The German chancellor's comments come amid a wave of criticism over Berlin's cautious response to Russia's invasion. Ukrainian officials, EU partners and Scholz's coalition partners have been urging for more consequent action.

Scholz sought to defend Berlin's course, while also mapping out the government's plan for weathering the economic repercussions of mounting Russian sanctions — particularly for Russian energy-dependent Germany.

For more on what the German government is planning, check out DW's coverage of the talks here.

German chancellor: Putin miscalculated in attacking Ukraine

EU regulators approve German aid for firms hit by Russian sanctions

The EU's competition regulators greenlit Germany's scheme that seeks to keep businesses afloat that have been hit hard by Russia's invasion in Ukraine — and the resulting international sanctions.

The €11 billion ($11.6 billion) state aid plan seeks to help companies across multiple sectors that have been impacted by the war and whose ties and operations in Russia have put them in severe financial risk.

Companies will be able to apply for loans at reduced interest rates and secure loans covered by a state guarantee.

"This umbrella scheme will enable Germany to mitigate the economic impact of Putin's war in Ukraine and to further support companies across sectors affected by the current crisis and the related sanctions," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The European Commission, which acts as the competition enforcer for the bloc, concluded that "the German umbrella scheme is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy."

Russia bans entry to Japan's prime minister

Russia announced sanctions against 63 Japanese officials and citizens — including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the measures bar those on the list from entering Russia indefinitely.

The sanctions include Japanese officials, journalists and professors for "unacceptable rhetoric" against Russia, the ministry said.

The move comes after Japan joined international sanctions against Russia over its military invasion in Ukraine. It is one of only three Asian countries to do so.

Last week, Kishida praised Germany's decision to send heavy weapons to Ukraine during a visit by Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Tokyo.

Refugee aid group decries 'deportation' of Ukrainian civilians to Russia

The Germany-based refugee rights organization Pro-Asyl sharply criticized reports that Ukrainians fleeing the war are being taken to Russia or Russia-controlled territories.

Speaking in an interview with the newspapers of the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND), Pro-Asyl director Günter Burkhardt said the reports are the latest in a chain of abuses by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government.

"If people who want to flee [the conflict] and are prevented from escaping and taken to another country, then that is deportation — and thereby a blatant violation of human rights," Burkhardt said.

The remarks were referencing a Russian military report that claimed 1.1 million people have been brought to Russia from Ukraine — among them nearly 200,000 children.

EU targets officials behind Bucha atrocities: 'We know who you are'

The European Union's newest sanctions package against Moscow is set to include Russian officials responsible for the atrocities committed in Bucha and Mariupol, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

The sanctions will include high-ranking Russian military officers and others "who committed war crimes in Bucha and who are responsible for the inhuman siege of the city of Mariupol," von der Leyen said.

"This sends another important signal to all perpetrators of the Kremlin's war: We know who you are, and you will be held accountable," she added.

Following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Bucha, a town located outside Kyiv, the bodies of Ukrainian civilians were found lying on the streets or buried in mass graves.

The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has been under attack by Russian troops for weeks. While scores of people were evacuated from the embattled Azovstal steel plant in recent days, hundreds of civilians remain holed up in the plant's bomb shelters.

Will Russia be held accountable for crimes?

Ukraine 'not ruling out' Belarus military involvement

Ukraine says Russia could, at some point, call for military help from Belarus, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian State Border Service said on Wednesday.

Speaking after the Belarusian armed forces announced the beginning of military drills, spokesperson Andriy Demchenko said: "We do not rule out that the Russian Federation could at some point use the territory of Belarus, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, against Ukraine. Therefore, we are ready."

EU recommends sanctioning head of Russian Orthodox Church

The European Commission has recommended sanctioning the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, according to a document seen by the AFP news agency.

The measures are part of a new wave of economic measures against Russia, announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The details of the proposed sanctions package are set to be published later in the day.

The new sanctions list from the EU's executive branch includes 58 individuals, including Russian military personnel, AFP reported. The proposal also includes the wife, daughter and son of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

EU shuts out Russia's Sberbank from SWIFT

A new round of EU sanctions seeks to shut out Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international banking payment system.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen announced the measures, alongside a Russian oil embargo, on Wednesday.

Sberbank and two other major Russian banks are set to be excluded from the international financial communication system.

The sanctions also include an EU ban on three Russian state broadcasters, with von der Leyen calling the TV channels "mouthpieces that amplify Putin's lies and propaganda aggressively."

EU outlines Russian oil embargo plan

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, targeting Moscow's banks and oil industry.

"Today we will propose to ban all Russian oil from Europe," von der Leyen said in the European Parliament, adding that "this will not be easy."

The new measures would ban imports of Russian oil in the bloc by the end of this year.

The move is a significant step for European countries, particularly Germany, that rely heavily on Russian energy imports.

The latest sanctions package was expected to include several major exceptions for Slovakia and Hungary. Von der Leyen, however, did not mention any exemptions in her speech.

Initially, Germany led the charge in resistance to an oil embargo on Russia, despite heavy criticism from Ukraine. The German government changed its position, however, after finding alternate sources for securing oil supplies.

Ukrainian officials and energy experts have said Russia is funding its invasion largely through its energy exports to Europe.

Russia looks to 'consolidate' military control in northeastern Donbas, says UK

Despite facing setbacks in its advance in Ukraine's Donbas region, Russian troops are looking to consolidate control in the area, the British Defense Ministry said.

In an intelligence update posted on Twitter, the ministry said Russia "has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups" near the city of Izium in eastern Ukraine.

Although Russia's military is "struggling to break through Ukrainian defenses and build momentum," troops are likely to push towards the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk.

Seizing these areas "would consolidate Russian military control" in the northeastern Donbas region — and provide a new staging point in their operations against Ukrainian forces, the British Defense Ministry said.

Belarus starts sudden military drills

The Defense Ministry of Belarus announced the start of "sudden" military drills on Wednesday, Russian and Belarusian media reported.

The exercises aim to test the military's combat readiness, the Russian TASS news agency and the Belarusian Belta reported.

The drills are taking place against the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which border both Russia and Belarus.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry said the exercises do not pose a threat to neighboring countries or to Europe in general.

Belarus' authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Russia's Vladimir Putin.

At the start of the invasion at the end of February, areas of Ukraine, including Kyiv, came under Russian assault. In the weeks leading up to the invasion, tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered in Belarus for joint military exercises.

The Russian troops were meant to go home — but instead were sent into Ukraine. Experts say there is no evidence so far of Belarusian troops being involved in the war in Ukraine.

Russian forces storm Azovstal plant in Mariupol

Russia has reportedly sent its forces into the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol, the Azovstal steel mill. Hundreds of civilians are holed up there, along with the last of the resistance in the city following weeks of constant shelling.

Ukrainian commanders said Russian tanks began storming the sprawling plant, which is spread out over 11 square kilometers (4 square miles) and includes a series of bunkers and tunnels.

Elina Tsybulchenko, 54, among those safely evacuated said, "You can't imagine how scary it is when you sit in the shelter, in a wet and damp basement which is bouncing, shaking."

Osnat Lubrani, the United Nations's humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, said just over 100 people had been evacuated over the weekend.

Russia's Sberbank winds down European operations

Vienna-based Sberbank Europe is winding down operations in Europe, selling its assets. Sberbank's majority shareholder is the Russian state.

In March, Austria's Financial Market Authority ordered Sberbank to cease operations in the country and appointed a state administrator as it seemed likely the bank would fail.

The effort comes after Russia was harshly sanctioned following its invasion of Ukraine.

Latvia offers financial assistance for supporting refugees

Latvia, a Baltic country that is a member of both the EU and NATO, has plans to offer households that take in a Ukrainian refugee €100 ($105) a month. The financial compensation will be paid for a maximum of 90 days and the assistance will max out at €300.

The plan must still be approved by the Latvian parliament, known as the Saeima.

Are the Baltic republics ready?

Since Russia invaded Ukraine Latvia has taken in approximately 26,000 Ukrainian refugees. Interior Minister Marija Golubeva said that Latvia has provided housing assistance to approximately 10,000 Ukrainians in that time.

Top Pentagon officials brief Congress

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified about the war in Ukraine before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in Congress.

The two top defense officials said the US has learned a tremendous amount about Russian military capabilities and shortfalls in a little over nine weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Milley added fighting is currently concentrated in the eastern Donbas region and added Ukraine's military required more tanks and other mechanized vehicles provided by the US and its allies to repel the aggressor.

Austin noted that Russia' s logistical shortfalls became apparent almost immediately with Russia unable to deliver food, water and supplies to its troops in a timely fashion.

Summary of Tuesday's events in Russia's war on Ukraine

Kyiv says Russian troops are attempting to advance on Ukrainian forces stationed in the Donbas region to encircle them. Ukrainian military reports said Russian troops also attacked several other towns while advancing toward Lyman-Siversk and Slovyansk.

A group of more than 100 civilian evacuees from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol were "safely" brought to the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

Some 200 civilians are believed to still be trapped in the plant as Russian forces renewed their attack on Tuesday. Despite hundreds of civilians remaining trapped inside, Russian forces fired rockets at Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant.

Mariupol: Thousands remain in danger

Russian forces reportedly shelled targets in the western city of Lviv Tuesday evening, with witnessing saying at least four distinct explosions were heard. Lviv, near the Polish border, has been a safe haven for Ukrainians fleeing heavy fighting in the eastern part of the country and was last attacked on April 18, when at least seven people were killed.

The governor of the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk says at least 10 people have been killed in a Russian strike on a coke plant in the city of Avdiivka.

Pro-Russian separatists in the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova on Tuesday accused Ukraine of carrying out an armed drone attack on a broadcast facility. Trans-Dniester has increasingly become a point of concern for Moldova, Ukraine and the West, all of which fear Russia could exploit the tense situation to expand its war in Ukraine and possibly drag the West into direct conflict.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the Ukrainian parliament via a video-link on Tuesday, becoming the first foreign leader to do so since the invasion started on February 24. He praised the country for destroying "the myth of Putin's invincibility."

Johnson also confirmed his country will send another 300 million pounds (€360 million or $375 million) in military aid to Ukraine, and said, "This is Ukraine's finest hour, that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come."

The US warned Moscow plans to formally annex parts of eastern Ukraine, specifically the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk after Russia failed to take the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

French media reports published Tuesday relayed that French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin spoke for over two hours on Monday. It was their first talk since March 29.

lo, js, rs, ar/aw, sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)