- UN confirms Mariupol steel plant evacuation under way
- US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi travels unannounced to Kyiv
- Russia is using a troll farm to spread disinformation abroad, says UK
- Zelenskyy calls on Russian soldiers not to fight in Ukraine
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Pelosi visit a 'powerful signal of support' — Zelenskyy
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described his meeting in Kyiv with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a strong indication of support.
In his daily televised address, Zelenskyy said Ukrainians "are grateful to all partners who send such important and powerful signals of support by visiting our capital at such a difficult time."
Zelenskyy said that there had been discussions about military aid, financial assistance and sanctions against Moscow.
Pelosi made the unannounced trip to Kyiv in a show of US solidarity with Ukraine.
Russia must never again be able to wage a war of aggression — Baerbock
Germany's Foreign Minister has said Western sanctions are aimed at weakening Russia's economy so that it cannot begin another war.
"Of course I want Russia never again to wage a war of aggression that violates international law," Baerbock told German public broadcaster ARD on Sunday.
"Through sanctions, we are making sure that further military action in other regions will not be possible."
Russia committed to avoiding nuclear war — Lavrov
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has told Italian television that Moscow is committed to preventing nuclear war from ever beginning.
"Western media misrepresent Russian threats," Lavrov said. "Russia has never interrupted efforts to reach agreements that guarantee that a nuclear war never develops."
Ukraine calls for 'leading role' from Germany
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told a German newspaper that his country hopes for "courageous, visionary decisions" from Berlin.
Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Kuleba said Germany's response to the war in Ukraine had been hesitant compared to that of other European nations. He added that Berlin should "take the leading role in Europe, especially in questions of Eastern policy."
According to the newspaper, this applied to the supply of arms to Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and Kyiv's ambition to join the EU.
The foreign minister stressed that should Russia win the war, "Europe will not enjoy stability and security for decades."
Evacuation efforts for other parts of Mariupol postponed to Monday
A planned operation to evacuate civilians from parts of Mariupol outside the Azovstal steel works on Sunday has been postponed to Monday morning, local officials said.
The evacuees will be taken to Zaporizhzhia, which is northwest of Mariupol.
It is separate to an evacuation operation that saw dozens of civilians leave the strategic port city's besieged Azovstal steel plant on Sunday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said around 100 people managed to leave the complex.
Up to 100,000 people are believed to still be in blockaded Mariupol.
Denmark summons Russian ambassador after airspace 'violation'
The Danish government says it has summoned Russia's ambassador following an alleged breach of its airspace.
"The Russian ambassador is summoned to the foreign ministry tomorrow," Denmark's foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, tweeted while referring to a "new Russian violation of Danish airspace."
Kofod went on to say that the incident was "completely unacceptable and extremely worrying in the current situation."
Denmark scrambled two fighter jets in response to the reported incident.
"It was a reconnaissance plane that was in our airspace for a very brief moment. Two Danish F-16 immediately intervened," Danish Defense Command media liaison Henrik Mortensen told the AFP news agency.
Zelenskyy says around 100 civilians evacuated from Mariupol
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the first group of around 100 civilians has left the Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol.
"Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began. The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area. Tomorrow we'll meet them in Zaporizhzhia," he tweeted. Ukrainian-controlled Zaporizhzhia lies some 220 kilometers (130 miles) to the northwest of Mariupol.
The UN had earlier confirmed that an evacuation operation was underway at the besieged plant, where some 1,000 civilians are believed to be holed up.
Russian military site near Ukrainian border on fire: local official
A fire has broken out at a Russian Defense Ministry facility in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, according to a local official.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram that one local resident was injured in the blaze. He did not specify what caused the fire.
Unverified images posted to social media showed a large funnel of smoke rising above the ground.
Russia accused Ukrainian forces of staging a helicopter attack on a Begorod oil depot last month. Moscow also claims that Ukraine attacked the Russian region of Kursk on Saturday.
Ukraine has not officially taken responsibility for those or other reported cross-border attacks. However, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said that his country has the "right" to strike Russian military targets, suggesting attacks on facilities within Russian territory.
Germany's Scholz defends weapons deliveries to Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pushed back against criticism over weapons deliveries to Ukraine and plans to the German military.
"I respect all forms of pacifism," Scholz wrote on Twitter.
"But it must seem cynical to the citizens of Ukraine when it's said that you should defend yourself against Putin's aggression without weapons," he added.
His comments came amid protests across Germany and elsewhere in Europe to mark International Labor Day on May 1. Many protesters voiced solidarity for Ukraine, while others criticized the German government's plans for boosting funds to the Bundeswehr.
Earlier on Sunday, Scholz was met with calls of "peace without weapons" while he delivered a speech in the western city of Düsseldorf.
The head of the German trade union confederation DGB, Reiner Hoffmann, also voiced criticism of the government's plans at a central rally in Berlin.
He cautioned against a permanent increase to Germany's arms budget, saying the money should be used instead to improve social welfare in Germany.
UN confirms Mariupol steel plant evacuation underway
A spokesperson for the United Nations confirmed that a "safe passage operation" is currently taking place to evacuate civilians who are trapped in an embattled steel plant in Mariupol.
"UN confirms that a safe passage operation is ongoing in Azovstal steel plant, in coordination with the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and the parties to the conflict," spokesperson Jens Laerke said.
The confirmation comes after a Reuters news agency photographer documented the arrival of civilians at a temporary accommodation area located east of the port city. The news agency reported at least 40 people had been evacuated.
Russian media earlier reported that 46 civilians had been evacuated from an area around the steel plant.
Around 1,000 civilians are estimated to be holed up in bunkers at the plant along with an unknown number of Ukrainian fighters.
The international community has urged for weeks for humanitarian corridors to be set up to allow civilians to leave the complex.
Bulgarian president: Risk of Europe-wide war 'is real'
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev cautioned that the conflict in Ukraine could expand to the rest of Europe, saying his country should be careful about becoming involved.
"The risk that the war escalates to a pan-European or even worldwide [conflict] is real," Radev said in an address on Sunday marking May 1.
The president, who is considered Moscow-friendly, added that it is Bulgaria's "patriotic duty" to not allow the country to become involved in the conflict.
Radev's remarks stand in contrast to efforts by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to send weapons to Ukraine. Petkov vowed close military and economic cooperation with Ukraine during talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this past week.
Bulgaria's coalition government is divided on how involved the country should be in the conflict, with the co-governing Socialist Party opposing military aid to Ukraine.
The country's parliament is set to decide on Wednesday whether to send military aid. Earlier this week, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would suspend gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland after the countries failed to make payments in rubles.
Japan, Vietnam reject 'use of force' in Ukraine
The leaders of Japan and Vietnam addressed the war in Ukraine during talks on Sunday.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that both countries agreed that international law must be respected in the conflict.
"We cannot accept the actions to change status quo by force in any region of the world,'' Kishida said after talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
While Japan has condemned Russia's invasion in Ukraine, Vietnam and most other Southeast Asian nations have avoided directly criticizing Moscow.
Russia is one of Vietnam's historic allies, with Vietnam's military primarily equipped with Russian weapons.
NATO exercises begin in Poland
Exercises involving 18,000 soldiers from over 20 NATO countries have begun on the military alliance's eastern flank, Poland's armed forces said on Sunday.
The Defender Europe 2022 and Swift Response 2022 exercises are taking place under the shadow of the war in Ukraine and are slated to run from May 1 - 27.
The Polish military stressed that the NATO exercises are a regular occurrence and are not aimed at any country or related to "the current geopolitical situation" in the region.
Polish officials, however, urged the public not to publish pictures or videos of the military vehicles that will be moving through the country over the next few weeks, saying that it could potentially harm the alliance's security.
German industry group: India's neutrality over war will complicate cooperation
The Federation of German Industries (BDI) said India's decision to not condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine will likely make political and business cooperation more difficult going forward.
"The West must reckon with the fact that India will not assign itself to any camp in an increasingly bipolar world order," Wolfgang Niedermark, a member of the BDI's executive board, told news agency dpa.
His comments came ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's planned visit to Berlin on Monday.
He added that both New Delhi and Berlin will need to reduce their dependency on Russia, considering the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
"This applies to European energy imports as well as to Russian-Indian military cooperation," Niedermark told dpa.
Germany is heavily reliant on Russian energy exports, particularly oil and gas, while Moscow is one of India's top arms suppliers.
Around 40 civilians evacuated from area around Mariupol steel plant, photos show
Dozens of people have been evacuated from the area around the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, a Reuters photographer reported.
Photos show civilians, including women and children, arriving at a temporary accommodation center located in the village of Bezimenne in the eastern Donetsk region.
Around 40 civilians had arrived on buses, accompanied by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). They arrived in a convoy with Russian troops as well as vehicles bearing United Nations symbols, Reuters reported.
Earlier, Russian media reported that 46 civilians had been evacuated from the area around the steel plant. An estimated 1,000 civilians are believed to be holed up in the steel plant's bunkers.
Pope decries war in Ukraine as 'macabre regression of humanity'
Pope Francis urgently appealed for humanitarian corridors to be set up in Mariupol to allow people to leave the besieged city.
Speaking to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, Francis described the war as a "macabre regression of humanity" that makes him "suffer and cry."
He also criticized the assault on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, saying it had been "barbarously bombarded and destroyed."
The pope's remarks came amid news that some civilians had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where an estimated 1,000 civilians have sought shelter. Ukrainian forces are also located in the plant, although it is unclear how many fighters are there.
Russia using troll farm to target Kremlin critics, says UK
New data has revealed how the Kremlin is using a so-called troll factory "to spread lies on social media" and flood the comment sections of popular websites, the British Foreign Ministry said.
The UK government-funded research found that the Kremlin is employing a "large-scale disinformation campaign" which is designed to "manipulate international public opinion" of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
According to the expert analysis, the troll farm is operating from within an old factory in St. Petersburg including a team of paid employees.
The troll farm has specifically targeted politicians and social media audiences in the UK, South Africa and India, the ministry said.
Among the other takeaways from the report found how the operations uses VPNs, specific commenting behaviors and amplification of "organic" content to boost the Russian government's position and avoid detection by social media platforms.
Currently, the operation has been detected on Telegram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.
"The UK Government has alerted international partners and will continue to work closely with allies and media platforms to undermine Russian information operations," said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in a statement.
US House Speaker Pelosi: Courage of Ukrainian people is 'remarkable'
Following her surprise trip to Kyiv, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people amid Russia's invasion was "remarkable."
"The courage of the Ukrainian people was something so remarkable," Pelosi said at a press conference in Rzeszow, Poland, standing alongside other members of the US congressional delegation who accompanied her.
She also said she was impacted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's "leadership" and "his detailed knowledge of every subject we brought up" — particularly concerning the exact types of weapons that Ukraine urgently needs.
Earlier, Pelosi commended the Ukrainian people "for their outstanding defense of democracy."
"We are honored to meet with you," Pelosi said, standing alongside President Zelenskyy. "We are here to say to you that we are with you until this fight is over."
Zelenskyy thanked Pelosi, a top member of President Joe Biden's Democratic Party, and other top US lawmakers for their show of support.
He also posted a video of his meeting with US lawmakers and their talks in the Ukrainian capital.
Duma chairman calls for reciprocal freezing of assets
Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of Russia's lower house of parliament, said Moscow should respond to some "unfriendly countries" by symmetrically freezing the assets of business owners who come from those countries.
This comes in response to several western countries freezing Russian assets globally after Moscow invaded Kyiv's territories.
"It is right to take mirror measures towards businesses in Russia whose owners come from unfriendly countries, where such measures were taken: confiscate these assets," the Duma chairman wrote on Twitter.
UK hints at Moscow tightening control over Kherson
UK military intelligence said Russia may aim to exert a strong political and economic influence on the Ukrainian city of Kherson after initiating a currency change to the ruble and ruling out its return to Ukrainian control.
"Since seizing ... Kherson in early March, Russia has sought to legitimize its control of the city and surrounding areas through installing a pro-Russian administration," the Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
Moscow's control of the region may allow it to sustain advances to the north and west, improving its security control of the nearby Crimea, Britain said.
US Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Kyiv
United States Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi traveled to Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv and met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a visit that was not previously announced.
Third in line for the US presidency, Pelosi is the highest-ranking American leader to visit Ukraine since the war began. Her visit follows another surprise trip from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
She joined a congressional delegation including other members of the US Congress.
"You all are welcome," Zelenskyy told the delegation. "I am grateful to you for this signal of strong support from the United States, the people, and Congress – bicameral and bipartisan support."
"This shows that the United States today is a leader in strong support for Ukraine during the war against the aggression of the Russian Federation."
"We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom," Pelosi told Zelenskyy. "We are on a frontier of freedom and your fight is a fight for everyone. Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done," she added.
Some evacuated from Mariupol steel plant
Some women and children have been evacuated from a steel plant in Mariupol, which served as the last defensive stronghold in the heavily-bombarded port city. However, hundreds remain trapped within the complex with little resources, including food, medicines and water.
The UN is working to broker an evacuation of close to 1,000 civilians who are currently seeking shelter in the Soviet-era Azovstal plant. Multiple attempts have been made to facilitate evacuations, only to end in failure.
"There is, right now, ongoing, high-level engagements with all the governments, Russia and Ukraine, to make sure that you can save civilians and support the evacuation of civilians from the plant," UN humanitarian spokesperson Saviano Abreu said, unable to provide details "because of the complexity and fluidity of the operation."
Russia says about 2,000 fighters are currently in the plant, a figure that is not backed by Ukraine. The latter said it has no knowledge about how many fighters are also in the plant.
Ukrainian top diplomat speaks to Chinese state media
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sat for a lengthy interview with Chinese state media, a rare move for Beijing which has largely promoted Moscow's version of events.
In the interview, Kuleba asked China to be Ukraine's 'security guarantor', referring to a 2013 promise from Beijing to act in that capacity should Kyiv ever be under threat. The foreign minister also said that the invasion was against China's interests, particularly that it was disrupting their 'Belt and Road Initiative' of infrastructure projects in developing nations.
"Ukraine is currently studying the possibility of acquiring security guarantees from permanent members of the UN Security Council, including China, and other major powers," he was quoted as saying by official news agency Xinhua.
"We propose that China becomes one of the guarantors of Ukraine's security, this is a sign of our respect and trust in the People's Republic of China."
His remarks also directly referred to Russia's actions as an "invasion" -- a term that Chinese officials and state media have sought to avoid.
"The situation is not escalating because of Ukraine, we are exercising our right to defend ourselves," he said, in an apparent rebuff of Chinese warnings against other states providing arms to Kyiv.
'Better to survive in Russia than die in Ukraine,' Zelenskyy tells Russian soldiers
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a special address to Russian soldiers, in Russian, during his nightly video message on Saturday evening.
He said Russian forces "are preparing for big losses" as they prepare for new attacks in the eastern Donbas region. He claimed Russia has already lost over 23,000 soldiers, although this figure cannot be confirmed.
Zelenskyy said that new Russian soldiers are being recruited for the offensive, soldiers "with little motivation" and "little combat experience."
The president also referred to the airstrikes on Saturday that hit the airport in the coastal city of Odesa — previously a popular holiday destination for Russian tourists.
"The runway of the Odesa airport was destroyed. We will, of course, rebuild it. But Odesa will never forget such a Russian attitude towards it," he said.
He also said that Ukraine is in discussions with its partners on increasing sanctions against Russia. "We expect a decision on oil restrictions against Russia in the near future," Zelenskyy said.
Scholz defends his Ukraine policies
"I make my decisions quickly — and in coordination with our allies. I am suspicious of hasty action and Germany going it alone," Scholz told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
The German leader came under fire from Friedrich Merz, head of the main conservative party in the Bundestag the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), for his reluctance to discuss sending weapons to Ukraine.
On Thursday, German lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of sending heavy weapons after repeated calls from Ukraine.
Summary of Saturday's events in the war in Ukraine
The UK's Ministry of Defense said Russian forces are still facing challenges after refocusing their efforts on eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's General Staff said that Ukrainian forces were still repelling the renewed assaults in the Donbas region.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to increase military aid to Ukraine during a call with President Zelenskyy on Saturday. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also pledged additional military aid.
Ukrainian authorities said they found the bodies of three civilians in Bucha, whose hands had been tied behind their backs and who showed signs of torture. More than 1,000 bodies have been discovered in and around Bucha since Russian troops withdrew.
Some 14 Ukrainians were released by Russian forces as part of a prisoner exchange. Half were military and half were civilian, with one being a five-month pregnant soldier.
Odesa's airport is out of use after a Russian rocket hit the airport. The mayor of the popular coastal town, which is been largely spared much of the violence, said that there were no victims in the attack.
Swedish fighter jets were scrambled on Saturday after a Russian reconnaissance plane entered its airspace. Sweden has been considering asking to join NATO in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
ab,es/sms (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)