April 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Joe Ruiz, Simone McCarthy, Brad Lendon, Eliza Mackintosh, Sana Noor Haq and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 0405 GMT (1205 HKT) May 1, 2022
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2:32 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Multiple explosions reported in Odesa

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova

Ukrainian media and witnesses are reporting multiple explosions in the southern city of Odesa soon after 6 p.m. local time. One witness told CNN that she saw at least one combat plane over the city.

The military's Operational Command (South) said on Telegram that the runway at Odesa's airport had been damaged.

The blasts were heard soon after air raid sirens sounded across the city.

A witness to the explosions told CNN she was about one kilometer (.62 miles) away from the airport when she heard two explosions. She said the attack lasted about 10 minutes and she was still experiencing hearing difficulties because of the noise from the impacts.

2:49 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

It's 7 p.m. in Ukraine and more information about Mariupol is surfacing. Here's what you need to know

An elderly man walks past a heavily damaged apartment building, on April 30, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
An elderly man walks past a heavily damaged apartment building, on April 30, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine, including what we know about the besieged city of Mariupol.

The Azovstal steel plant: Nearly every building on the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol, has been destroyed, new satellite images from Maxar Technologies show. There are large holes in the roofs — the telltale sign of a military strike. Some roofs are completely collapsed, and some buildings have been reduced to rubble. Many of the residential and government buildings directly east of the plant have also been completely destroyed.

Evacuation routes are reportedly tentative: Russia has been rejecting all evacuation proposals for Mariupol, but now, there are signs of a possible breakthrough in securing at least one evacuation route, Mariupol city council said. Although the council is still waiting for confirmation, its post says the evacuation would be today (Saturday) from Port City, which is a shopping mall.

Russian assault: In other missile and aircraft strikes, Russian forces hit 10 locations housing Ukrainian troops and equipment, the Russian defense ministry said, killing up to 120 soldiers and destroying four tanks and six other armoured vehicles.

12:04 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Possible breakthrough in Mariupol evacuation, city council says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova in Lviv

People gather to receive humanitarian aid at the parking lot of a store in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29.
People gather to receive humanitarian aid at the parking lot of a store in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29. (Andrey Bordulin/AFP/Getty Images)

There are signs of a possible breakthrough in securing at least one evacuation route in the besieged city of Mariupol.

"There is hope for the evacuation of Mariupol residents to territory controlled by Ukraine," Mariupol city council said on its Telegram account.

Although the council is still waiting for confirmation, its post says the evacuation would be today (Saturday) from Port City, which is a shopping mall.

"The occupiers allowed movement between the Left Bank district and other districts of the city on the right bank. The movement is open across the bridge to Mukhino," said Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, on Telegram.

At this stage, it's unclear whether any evacuation would include people trapped at the Azovstal steel plant complex.

Altogether, some 100,000 people are still in Mariupol, a quarter of its pre-war population.

10:49 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Red Cross and UN are involved in evacuation negotiations, Mariupol mayor says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

The United Nations mission and Red Cross are negotiating on securing the evacuation of hundreds of local people who are trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boichenko says.

Speaking on Ukrainian television on Saturday, he urged "all international partners to unite for one goal — to save the lives of the locals, to save the fortress and those locals who are now hiding in the Azovstal bomb shelters."

"The UN mission and Red Cross are negotiating. We are waiting for the results of these talks. We are waiting [to see] that we will get this corridor and save the lives of hundreds of our Mariupol residents," Boichenko said.

The Ukrainian President's office said Friday it had a plan for evacuating Azovstal, but Ukrainian officials later said that the Russians had blocked access to the plant. 

9:37 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Russia steps up efforts to rub out Ukrainian identity as Lenin reappears in the southern part of the country

From CNN's Andrew Carey, Yulia Kesaieva, Kostan Nechyporenko and Olga Voitovych 

A popular Ukrainian supermarket in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia announced a grand reopening Saturday under new – Russian – management. It is the latest sign of attempts by Moscow’s occupying forces to rub out Ukrainian identity in territories under its control. 

Formerly, the shop in Melitopol was part of the ATB chain, a Dnipro-based business. But a leaflet posted on a local TV station’s Telegram channel boasts the supermarket is now part of the MERA chain, which is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia. 

The leaflet promises that shoppers spending at least 500 hryvnia (about $16) will be entered into a “super prize draw” – though details of what the winner could take home are not revealed. 

Elsewhere in the region, a large Ukrainian coat of arms has been removed from the front of the mayor’s office in the town of Tokmak. Photos circulating on social media show the distinctive Ukrainian symbol – a yellow trident on a blue background – propped up against the entrance of the building. An earlier photo on the same Telegram channel shows a man up a ladder apparently working to loosen the trident from its place. 

And as if to underline the sense of a clock being turned back, video has emerged from the neighboring region of Kherson — also under Russian occupation — of a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin being re-erected in the town of Nova Kakhovka. 

One video captures the statue of the Russian revolutionary and first leader of the Soviet Union being carried flat on a truck through the city. 

A later photo shows the statue being winched onto a plinth in front of the city council building. 

“While Ukraine is the first in the world to introduce e-passports, ‘orcs’ are restoring Lenin's monument in temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka,” Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister, said in a Telegram post under the photo, using the popular Ukrainian slang term for Russian forces. 

Statues of Vladimir Lenin were a hallmark of towns and cities across the Soviet Union, but many have been removed from Ukrainian locations in recent years as relations with Russia have deteriorated. 

10:49 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Exclusive: Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has been significantly destroyed by Russian strikes, satellite images show

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine is seen in this satellite image taken April 29.
Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine is seen in this satellite image taken April 29. (Maxar Technologies)

Nearly every building on the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol, has been destroyed, new satellite images from Maxar Technologies show.

There are large holes in the roofs — the telltale sign of a military strike. Some roofs are completely collapsed, and some buildings have been reduced to rubble.

Many of the residential and government buildings directly east of the plant have also been completely destroyed.

CNN has previously reported that Ukrainian forces and hundreds of remaining residents have taken refuge in the deep basements at the steel plant. It's unclear from the satellite images taken on Friday whether any of the military strikes have destroyed any of the basement facilities.

Sviatoslav Palamar, an Azov Regiment commander at the plant, told CNN on Friday that the plant has been intensely shelled by artillery, ships and airstrikes.

"There are cellars and bunkers that we cannot reach because they are under rubble," Palamar said. "We do not know whether the people there are alive or not. There are children aged four months to 16 years. But there are people trapped in places that you can't get to."

8:51 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Macron spoke with Zelensky on Saturday, says Elysee Palace

From CNN's Martin Goillandeau in London 

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday, according to a statement by the Elysee Palace. 

"The President of the Republic reaffirmed to President Zelensky his willingness to work actively during his second term of office to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, always maintaining close coordination with his European partners and allies," the statement said, adding that Macron expressed concern about the continued bombing of Ukrainian cities and the "unbearable" situation in Mariupol.

Macron told Zelensky that military support to Ukraine "will continue to grow, as well as the humanitarian assistance provided by France," which so far amounts to more than 615 tons of equipment, including medical supplies, generators for hospitals, food aid, shelter assistance, and emergency vehicles, according to the Elysee. 

Macron also said, "at the request of the Ukrainian authorities, the mission of French experts contributing to the collection of evidence to fight against impunity and allow the work of international justice on crimes committed in the context of Russian aggression, will continue."

10:48 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

In Mariupol steel plant, soldiers share videos of children and mothers desperately awaiting evacuation

From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh in London

The videos show women and children living underground in a dark, damp basement. One mother said they've not seen the sun in weeks and will soon run out of food. An old woman, her head bandaged and bloodied, shivers on a cot. A baby wears a plastic bag fastened with duct tape around its small waist -- there are no diapers left.

The harrowing footage was posted on YouTube by the Azov regiment, a unit of the Ukrainian armed forces, which said it was filmed in the vast network of tunnels underneath the Azovstal steel plant -- Mariupol's last remaining holdout.

Smoke rises above Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on April 18.
Smoke rises above Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on April 18. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

After relentless bombardment by air, sea and sky, Russian troops have taken control of what is left of the rest of the city. Once a thriving port and beloved vacation spot on the Black Sea, much of Mariupol now lies in ruins. The steel plant is the last remaining shelter for hundreds of soldiers and civilians still stuck in the city.

In a clip published last week, a young boy, his cheeks pale, made a heart-wrenching plea for a path out.

I want to get out of here and see the sun. We’ve been here for two months now, and I want to see the sun," he said. "When they rebuild our houses, we can live in peace. Let Ukraine win this war because Ukraine is our dear home."

Increasingly, it seems there is little chance of their rescue.

Myhailo Podoliak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Saturday that Russia was refusing to help save the people of Mariupol and had shown "absolute unwillingness to talk."

The videos shared by the Azov regiment, which are accompanied by pleas for help, give a sense of the desperate situation unfolding for Mariupol residents left behind. In the absence of journalists on the ground -- an Associated Press team, the only Western news media reporting from the city, left in March -- and almost no internet or cell service, the clips posted by Azov to social channels are among few windows into the plight of people trapped in the plant.

On Thursday, Ukrainian officials said Russia had carried out airstrikes on a field hospital within the plant. Mariupol's mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said that more than 600 were injured in the bombing. The attack renewed calls from the United Nations for humanitarian corridors to open up to the city.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking alongside Zelensky in a press conference in Kyiv, said that the besieged city was a "crisis within a crisis" and that the people stranded there were in desperate need of help. According to Guterres, Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed in principle for the involvement of the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from Azovstal. But so far those corridors have not become a reality. Last week, Putin told his defense minister in Moscow that the plant should bee sealed off but not stormed.

Footage and photos shared by the Azov regiment on Friday shows graphic scenes in what is described as the aftermath of the attack on the makeshift hospital in the plant. CNN could not independently verify the location of the videos.

An Azov commander inside the Azovstal steel complex told CNN on Friday that children from 4-months to 16-years-old were trapped inside -- some in cellars and bunkers that are now unreachable because they had been covered by rubble.

We do not know whether the people there are alive or not," he said.

Some background: The Azov regiment was originally formed in 2014 as the Azov Battalion, to defend Mariupol from attack by Russian-backed separatists. When it was created, it was known for having members with nationalist and neo-Nazi leanings, which Russia has cited to justify its war. But since the regiment was integrated into the Ukrainian military, analysts and Ukrainian officials say it has reformed. The unit has played a major role in defending the city in recent weeks and its soldiers have repeatedly pled for civilians to be evacuated from the plant.

10:48 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Mariupol residents face threat of diseases in addition to shelling and lack of food, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Natalya Kalugina, 64, stands in a courtyard near a block of destroyed apartment buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29.
Natalya Kalugina, 64, stands in a courtyard near a block of destroyed apartment buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The residents of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol are facing the threat of diseases, in addition to the shelling by Russian forces and lack of food and water, Ukrainian officials warned Saturday, describing the living conditions in the city as "medieval."

"Cholera, dysentery, and Escherichia coli: about 100,000 Mariupol residents are in mortal danger not only due to shelling but also to intolerable living conditions and unsanitary conditions," reads a post from the Ukrainian Parliament's official Twitter account. 

"The air temperature has already reached 20 degrees. Powerful and deadly epidemics could soon break out in the city – due to the lack of centralized water supply and sanitation, the decomposition of thousands of corpses under the rubble, and a catastrophic shortage of water and food," the parliament said.  

It added, "The occupiers cannot provide the existing population with food, water, and medicine. They block all evacuation attempts. And without that, people will die. Now in the ruined Mariupol, there are medieval living conditions. Immediate and complete evacuation is needed!"