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G7 to impose fresh sanctions on Russia

May 8, 2022

After talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, leaders of the G7 nations pledged further economic isolation of Russia and vowed "phasing out or banning" Russian oil imports.

A general view of the video screen of G7 leaders during a video-conference on Ukraine
G7 leaders held a video conference on SundayImage: Thibault Camus/REUTERS
  • Russian invasion of Ukraine overshadows commemorations to mark end of WWII in Europe
  • Officials in eastern Ukrainian Luhansk region say 60 feared dead after school bombing
  • US first lady Jill Biden makes unannounced visit to Ukraine
  • Ukraine's President Zelenskyy says 'evil has returned' to Ukraine

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest on Russia's invasion, please click here.

Azovstal plant evacuees arrive in Zaporizhzhia: reports

Convoy buses carrying civilians evacuated from southeastern Ukraine has reportedly arrived at the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, according to media reports. 

The AFP and Reuters news agencies said among the civilians were people evacuated from the besieged steel plant in the Black Sea port of Mariupol. 

Osnat Lubrani, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, confirmed that 174 people were brought to safety from "the hell of Mariupol." 

"Our work is not yet done. I don't forget those who've been left behind," she added. 

On Saturday, Ukraine said that it had evacuated all women, children and elderly people from the Azovstal steelworks. 

Russia steps up attacks across Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz: 'No peace under Russian dictatorship'

Speaking on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of the end of World War II, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he strongly believes Russia will not win its war in Ukraine. The conflict has overshadowed commemorations in the German capital Berlin.

In a speech Sunday, Scholz warned that there can be "no peace under Russian dictatorship" in Ukraine.

"Ukraine will prevail. Freedom and security will win, just as freedom and security triumphed over servitude, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago," Scholz said. 

US State Department announces visa bans of Russian military officials

The US State Department announced visa bans and restrictions on over 2,500 Russian military officials and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine.

The State Department also designated eight Russian maritime companies and placed 69 vessels on a US Treasury Department sanctions list.

G7 to impose new sanctions on Russia

Following a meeting via video conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, leaders of the G7 nations said they were imposing further sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

"We will continue and elevate our campaign against the financial elites and family members, who support President [Vladimir] Putin in his war effort and squander the resources of the Russian people. Consistent with our national authorities, we will impose sanctions on additional individuals," the G7 statement read.

The G7 leaders also said they were "committed to phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil," according to the statement.

The US also unveiled new sanctions against three Russian television networks, Joint Stock Company Channel One Russia, Television Station Russia-1, and Joint Stock Company NTV Broadcasting Company, which are all partly or fully state controlled, the White House said.

The US announced that it was additionally banning US citizens from providing accounting and consulting services to Russian nationals. The US also announced sanctions against executives from Gazprombank as well as eight executives from Sberbank.

The new sanctions are intended to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, US officials said.

U2 performs in the Kyiv metro

The Irish band U2 gave a concert in the Kyiv metro with lead singer Bono praising Ukraine's fight for freedom and offering a prayer for peace.

The 61-year-old rocker performed "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "With or Without You," among other hits.

During a break in the music, Bono said, "The people in Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom, you are fighting for all of us who love freedom."

Members of Ukraine's armed forces were present with one joining on stage for a cover of "Stand by Me." 

US diplomats return to Kyiv May 9 for Soviet Victory Day – report

A group of US diplomats are scheduled to return to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on May 9 to coincide with Russia's celebration of Victory Day commemorating the Soviet Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany 77 years ago, US network CBS News reports.

The return of US diplomats to the Ukrainian capital is intended to signal to the Russian President Vladimir Putin that his failure to capture Kyiv has only led his forces into a grinding, senseless war of attrition focused mostly on the south and east of the country.

The Americans hope to resume operations at the embassy in Kyiv and raise the US flag on its grounds again soon in the coming weeks, CBS quoted State Department officials as saying.

According to Politico's Christopher Miller, "The American diplomatic mission in Ukraine reopened Sunday." He added, "Chargé d’Affaires Kristina Kvien just arrived with other diplomats." 

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau visits Irpin

Ukrainian media reported that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv where civilians were left in mass graves and for dead on the street.

His surprise trip was not previously announced and comes on the same day US first lady Jill Biden is also in Ukraine to hold a Mother's Day meeting with Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenskyy. 

This image provided by the Irpin Mayor's Office shows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walking with mayor Oleksandr Markushyn, right, in Irpin, Ukraine
The mayor of Irpin shared images of Trudeau, saying that the Canadian leader was shocked by the damage he saw at civilian homesImage: Irpin Mayor's Office/AP/picture alliance

Berlin police roll up Ukrainian flag at Soviet War Memorial

Police in Berlin rolled up a giant Ukrainian flag demonstrators displayed at the Soviet War Memorial in the central Tiergarten Park.

Berlin police said they rolled up the flag in an effort to keep a planned World War II commemoration ceremony peaceful. The police imposed a ban on displays of flags or military symbols at 15 memorial sites in the capital for this reason.

German police officers remove a huge Ukrainian flag from the side of a Soviet War Memorial at the district Tiergarten during commemorations to celebrate the end of World War II 77 years ago, in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, May 8, 2022
Berlin police removed an oversized Ukrainian flag, showing they were willing to follow through in removing flags prohibited over the weekend commemorations marking Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) at the end of World War II Image: Markus Schreiber/AP/picture alliance

Germany has outlawed the "Z" symbol used by the Russian army during its invasion of Ukraine. Additionally measures in Berlin are in place though on Sunday and Monday due to the competing victory day celebrations and contemporary narratives around Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Kyiv's ambassador in the German capital Andriy Melnyk criticized the measures, calling it a "catastrophic politically wrong decision."

US first lady Jill Biden makes unannounced visit to Ukraine

US first lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine Sunday to hold a Mother's Day meeting with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenskyy.

It is the latest in a string of high-profile visits by US political and military leaders, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Biden traveled by road from Slovakia to Uzhorod in western Ukraine.

"I wanted to come on Mother's Day. I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine," Biden told reporters.

According to a US official, it was the first public appearance by Ukraine's first lady since the Russian invasion began. 

First lady Jill Biden receives flowers from Olena Zelenskyy, spouse of Ukrainian's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
US first lady Jill Biden met with Olena Zelenskyy, wife of Ukraine's President Volodymyr ZelenskyyImage: Susan Walsh/AP/picture alliance

Putin congratulates Soviet revanchists on VE Day

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated leaders of ex-Soviet republics and the Kremlin-backed separatists operating in the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas on the 77th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Putin ignored Western allies of the Soviet Union that defeated Nazi Germany from the West, such as the United States, as well as governments considered hostile to Moscow such as Ukraine and Georgia.

A message published on the Kremlin website Sunday said, "Today it is a communal duty to prevent the rebirth of Nazism, which brought so much suffering to the people of various countries."

Russia claims its February 24 invasion of Ukraine is a "denazification" effort. In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has compared Russia's war to the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Wehrmacht in 1941.

How will the war in Ukraine affect Moscow's Victory Day celebrations?

Putin vows 'as in 1945, victory will be ours'

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed that "as in 1945, victory will be ours" ahead of Moscow's commemoration of Victory Day.

Victory Day marks Nazi Germany's surrender to the Allies during World War II. Russia is set to commemorate the holiday on Monday.

"Today, our soldiers, as their ancestors, are fighting side by side to liberate their native land from the Nazi filth with the confidence that, as in 1945, victory will be ours," said Putin.

The Kremlin has claimed "denazification" as one of the reasons for its invasion of Ukraine.

In an interview with DW, political scientist and University of Innsbruck professor Gerhard Mangott called the view that Russian forces were fighting Nazis in Ukraine "absurd."

"[Putin] has closely knitted these two wars together, the Great Patriotic War and the war in Ukraine, and we will see more of that tomorrow," Mangott said, referring to the speech Putin is scheduled to give Monday. "He will actually appeal to the Russian citizens to show unity, to show resolve, to stand together, to remain united in this today's fight against Nazis, as the Russians see it, which, of course, is totally absurd."

Heavy police presence at commemorations marking end of WWII in Berlin

People have been commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany to end World War II at various memorial sites in Berlin.

The commemorations are being carried out under heavy police presence due to possible tensions over the war in Ukraine.

One of the conditions placed on commemorations at memorial sites was a ban on Russian and Ukrainian flags. Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk criticized the measures on Saturday.

Melnyk laid a wreath at the Soviet Memorial in Berlin's Tiergarten park on Sunday. Some participants among the hundreds attending began chanting "Nazis out" and "Melnyk out" as the ambassador laid the wreath. Other participants carried Ukrainian flags and chanted pro-Ukraine slogans.

Dozens of events have been planned by both the Russian and Ukrainian embassies for Sunday and Monday.

WWII commemorations in Germany

Ukrainian troops retreat from Popasna

Ukrainian troops have retreated from the eastern city of Popasna, Luhansk regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai said.

Earlier on Sunday, Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov said Chechen forces had taken control of most of Popasna.

Gaidai told Ukrainian television that "everything was destroyed there."

Zelenskyy says 'evil has returned' to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a Victory Day address on Sunday that evil has returned to Ukraine.

Victory Day commemorates the surrender of Germany to the Allies during World War II.

"The evil has returned. Again!" Zelenskyy said. "In a different form, under different slogans, but for the same purpose."

"No evil can escape responsibility, it cannot hide in a bunker," he said.

Russian show of force ahead of May 9th

Russian forces hit Ukrainian warship near Odesa — Kremlin

Russia's Defense Ministry said its forces destroyed a Ukrainian warship near Odesa with a missile strike overnight.

Russia's air defenses also shot down two Ukrainian SU-24 bombers sand a Mi-24 helicopter, the ministry said.

The ministry said a total of four Ukrainian warplanes, four helicopters, and an assault boat had been destroyed over the past 24 hours.

German Bundestag president arrives in Kyiv

German Bundestag President Bärbel Bas arrived in Kyiv on Sunday.

Bas plans to take part in the commemoration of the end of World War II, laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Memorial to the Murdered Ukrainian Jews at Babyn Yar, Kyiv. She is also scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Bas is the second-highest representative of Germany after the president. She is the most important German politician to visit Ukraine since February.

How do Russians feel about the May 9th celebrations?

Gas still flowing from Russia to Europe through Ukraine

Russia's Gazprom has said that it is continuing gas shipments to Europe via Ukraine. Sunday's volume was at 92.1 million cubic meters, according to the Russian energy giant.

Despite proposals from the European Commission to ban the import of Russian oil, Europe has taken few steps to reduce its dependency on Russian gas.  Europe imports about 45% of its natural gas from Russia, a larger share than the oil it gets from the country.

Russia's natural gas exports are predicted to generate about $80 billion (€76 billion) in tax revenues for Moscow this year, according to Rystad Energy.

Luhansk governor: At least 2 dead, 60 unaccounted for in school bombing

Luhansk regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai said at least two people have been killed in the bombing of a school in the village of Bilohorivka.

Some 60 people who remained under debris are feared dead while 30 have been rescued, Gaidai said in a Telegram post.

"The fire was extinguished after nearly four hours, then the rubble was cleared, and, unfortunately, the bodies of two people were found," Gaidai said.

The Luhansk region's governor said Russia dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on a school were about 90 people were taking shelter.

60 feared dead after bomb hits Ukraine school

Bundestag president to visit Kyiv

Bundestag President Bärbel Bas will visit Kyiv on Sunday. At the invitation of the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, she wants to take part in a commemoration of the Nazi victims during the Second World War in the Ukrainian capital.

Bas will also hold political talks. If the security situation permits, Bas says she also wants to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Bas is the first high-ranking German official to visit Kyiv amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. On Friday, Zelenskyy invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to visit Kyiv on May 9, the day Russia marks the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Scholz: German FM to visit Ukraine

US, France, Germany, Italy, and UK discussed more sanctions 

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had a wide-ranging discussion on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with fellow diplomats from Germany, France, Italy and the UK. 

Diplomats in Paris on Saturday agreed on plans for additional sanctions and other measures to hold the Russian Federation accountable, according to the US State Department.

The participants of the meeting also discussed the importance of continuing to provide military assistance to Ukraine to defend itself as well as humanitarian aid to the millions who have been forced to flee their homes.

German politician who visited Ukraine speaks out against arms shipments

At the end of his trip to Ukraine, German left-wing politician Gregor Gysi spoke out against German arms deliveries to the country attacked by Russia.

According to Gysi, a member of the Left Party, Germany should not arm one ex-Soviet republic against the other. But Ukraine has the right to defend itself and import weapons, the 74-year-old politician added.

"I can only hope that Russia and Ukraine will agree on a ceasefire as soon as possible," Gysi said, but added that he is "done with the Putin regime."

According to his own statements, Gysi visited the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and the western Ukrainian city of Lviv during his trip.

He was also in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where the bodies of hundreds of murdered civilians were found a few weeks ago.

Russian troops reportedly shell school in Luhansk region

Luhansk regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian troops destroyed a school in the village of Bilohorivka on Saturday.

According to Gaidai, about 90 people were hiding in the school, and about 30 people have already been rescued from the debris.

The State Rescue Service of Ukraine reported that its units have so far rescued two people and found the bodies of two victims at the site. The rescue operation will continue on Sunday.

Britain vows further military aid to Ukraine

Britain said it would provide an additional 1.3 billion pounds (€1.52 billion or $1.6 billion) in military support and aid to Ukraine, making the pledge ahead of a planned video conference by G7 leaders with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday.

The new pledge almost doubles Britain's previous spending commitments on Ukraine.

"Putin's brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine — it is also threatening peace and security across Europe," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Britain said the additional spending on Ukraine would come from a reserve used by the government for emergencies.

The leaders of the G7 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — will hold their virtual meeting with Zelenskyy on Sunday, the day before Russia celebrates its Victory Day to mark the end of World War Two in Europe.

Germany provides further humanitarian aid for Ukraine

The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has increased emergency humanitarian aid for Ukraine by €63 million ($66.4 million).

"It is important to me that Germany not only supports Ukraine militarily, but also makes life more bearable for the people," Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Svenja Schulze told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

"To this end, we have now increased the emergency aid program for Ukraine from €122 million to €185 million. The aim is to restore the drinking water supply and rebuild destroyed apartments, schools and kindergartens," Schulze said.

The minister also added: "Other ministries are giving even more and we will do even more. Where the bombs are no longer falling, Germany will contribute billions to the reconstruction. My ministry is already preparing for it."

Zelenskyy: Ukraine is preparing to evacuate the wounded and medics from Azovstal

In his late night address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian authorities are now preparing to evacuate the wounded and medics from Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks in what he called "the second stage of the evacuation mission."

The Ukrainian president also said that his team is working on the evacuation of Ukrainian troops from Mariupol.

According to Zelenskyy, this is an extremely difficult but important task.

"Every day we are looking for a diplomatic option that can work out," he said.

The president added that Ukrainian authorities would continue facilitating humanitarian corridors for all residents of Mariupol and surrounding settlements.

Zelenskyy also thanked the teams of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations for their help in conducting the first phase of the Azovstal evacuation mission, which included the evacuation of 300 civilians.

Earlier on Saturday, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that "all women, children and elderly" were evacuated from the steel plant.

Azovstal is the last remaining nest of Ukrainian resistance in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which is largely occupied by Russian forces.

Evacuation attempt in Mariupol

Russian troops destroyed a museum dedicated to the Ukrainian philosopher

Russian shelling destroyed a museum in the Kharkiv region dedicated to the 18th-century Ukrainian philosopher and poet Hryhorii Skovoroda.

The overnight attack in the village of Skovorodynivka hit the roof of the museum, setting the building ablaze and injuring a 35-year-old custodian. The most valuable items had earlier been moved for safety, said Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synehubov.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that every day of this war the Russian army does something that leaves him speechless.

"Targeted strikes against museums - not even terrorists would think of this. But this is the kind of army we are fighting against," he said.

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

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), was in Kyiv along with WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan Saturday. Ryan said the WHO had documented 200 attacks on health facilities in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24.

CIA Director William Burns told The Financial Times' Weekend Festival that Putin is convinced that doubling down will enable him to make progress in Ukraine. Burns added that Putin has staked a lot on the second phase of the "brutal" offensive in Ukraine.

The CIA director also noted that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shown there are limits of Russia and China's partnership. He noted that the war in Ukraine has affected Beijing's calculations over Taiwan but it has not altered its determination over future actions.

Ukraine's deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that "all women, children and elderly" have been evacuated from the Azovstal plant in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol.

Ukraine braces for increased Russian attacks

Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for Ukraine's southern military command, told Ukraine's public broadcaster that six missiles struck the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa. Humeniuk said four strikes landed on a furniture factory in a residential area while two hit an already damaged airstrip.

Amid celebrations marking the 77th anniversary of victory over the Nazis in World War II, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to "twist history" in order "to justify his unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine." 

US First Lady Jill Biden met with Ukrainian women and child refugees at a public school hosting refugee students in the Romanian capital Bucharest. She praised the Romanian government and relief organizations for providing humanitarian assistance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said in a statement that an armed drone had destroyed a Serna-class landing craft and a missile defense system near Snake Island in the Black Sea.

On the front line with Ukrainian soldiers

Pro-Russian hackers have attacked the websites of German security agencies, ministries and politicians, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported. Citing an internal agency report, the news magazine said that some of the websites were temporarily unavailable due to the so-called DDoS attacks, where servers are bombarded with so many requests that the system can't cope.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is calling on the West to continue delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine.

"Ukraine urgently needs more heavy weapons, the West should intensify its deliveries, do more and prepare for a long-term commitment," Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

ar, dh/wd, fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)