May 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Maureen Chowdhury, Joe Ruiz, Mike Hayes, Nectar Gan, Andrew Raine, Eliza Mackintosh, Jack Bantock and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0405 GMT (1205 HKT) May 2, 2022
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5:25 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Pelosi leads first official US delegation to Ukraine since war began

From CNN’s Michelle Watson 

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an unannounced trip to the Ukrainian capital on Saturday, becoming the most senior United States official to meet with President Volodymr Zelensky since the war broke out more than two months ago.

Pelosi's office confirmed the trip in a statement on Sunday, saying that the Speaker had led an official congressional delegation to Ukraine -- the first since Russia's invasion.

Zelensky shared a video on Sunday of their meeting in Kyiv, and thanked the US for its powerful support of Ukraine against Russian aggression. 

"We are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom, that we're on a frontier of freedom and that your fight is a fight for everyone," Pelosi said to Zelensky in the clip. "And so our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done."

The trip to Kyiv by Pelosi, who is second in line to succeed the president, signals a significant measure of commitment to supporting Ukraine from the most senior level of US leadership.

"Our Congressional Delegation had the solemn opportunity and extraordinary honor of meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian officials in Kyiv,” according to the news release.

“Our delegation conveyed our respect and gratitude to President Zelenskyy for his leadership and our admiration of the Ukrainian people for their courage in the fight against Russia’s oppression.”  

Pelosi was joined by several other senior members of Congress, including Gregory Meeks of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

"When we return to the United States, we will do so further informed, deeply inspired and ready to do what is needed to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world," the release ends. 

CNN’s Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.     

4:57 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Russia reinforcing operations in the east amid heavy artillery assaults, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Russia is reinforcing its offensive operations in eastern Ukraine with weapons and military equipment amid heavy artillery assaults, according to the Ukrainian military.  

Airstrikes and artillery fire by Russian forces continue in many areas, from Kharkiv in the north to Zaporizhzhia in the south, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its latest operational update.

One of the main targets of Russian forces is the industrial town of Sloviansk in Donetsk.

A Ukrainian soldier sits on a Armoured personnel carrier (APC) driving on a road near Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine, on April 26.
A Ukrainian soldier sits on a Armoured personnel carrier (APC) driving on a road near Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine, on April 26. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
The “enemy's strike group continues to strengthen. Up to 300 weapons and military equipment were transferred,” along with air defenses, the General Staff said.
Further east and south, “enemy troops are conducting active operations along the entire section of the demarcation line,” it said. 
“In order to prevent the ability of our forces and vehicles to manoeuvre, the enemy is blocking them in specified areas.” 

The General Staff said Russian forces were trying to break through Ukrainian defensive lines around Olenivka. Altogether in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, nine enemy attacks had been repulsed.

There appears to be intense pressure on front-line Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region. The Luhansk regional administration said that the village of Zolote-3 had been 70% destroyed by Russian fire. And the region’s military administrator, Serhiy Hayday, said that nearby – in Orikhovo – there were “intense gunfights – street after street.” 

He said the towns of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk had withstood “six massive artillery shellings each” on Saturday. 

In southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said that Russian troops were trying to establish control over all of the Kherson region and preparing for offensive action towards the cities of Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih. 

The Air Command "South" of the Ukrainian Air Force said that in “the Mykolaiv-Kherson direction active hostilities continue." But it said its forces had attacked Russian positions on Snake Island off the coast of Kherson, destroying equipment. 

4:05 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Zelensky meets Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv

From CNN’s Sarita Harilela in Hong Kong

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday said he had held a meeting with a congressional delegation from the United States, including House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Zelensky also shared a video of their visit on his official Twitter account.

2:57 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Russia has killed twice as many in Mariupol as Nazi Germany did, city council claims

From Josh Pennington and CNN’s Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

A view of a heavily damaged building in Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 29, 2022. 
A view of a heavily damaged building in Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 29, 2022.  (Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Russian army has killed twice as many people in Mariupol in two months as German Nazis did in two years during World War II, Mariupol City Council claimed in a statement on its Telegram channel. 

In two years, the Nazis killed 10,000 civilians in Mariupol. And the Russian occupiers killed over 20,000 Mariupol residents in two months. Over 40,000 people were forcefully removed,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said, according to the city council.

CNN is not able to independently verify these claims. 

Russia has also illegally deported as many Mariupol residents as Hitler’s troops did during the years of occupation, the city council claimed in its statement on Saturday.

“This is one of the most terrible genocides of peaceful population in modern history. The Russian army is targeting and mercilessly decimating our city and its residents,” Boychenko added.
11:58 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

A memorial to those who have lost their lives in the Russian war on Ukraine in downtown Lviv on April 30.
A memorial to those who have lost their lives in the Russian war on Ukraine in downtown Lviv on April 30. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Some evacuations have taken place at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where hundreds of people, including dozens injured during an intense Russian bombardment over the past several weeks, are thought to be trapped.

Here are the latest developments:

The Azovstal steel plant: Nearly every building at the sprawling steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol, has been destroyed, new satellite images from Maxar Technologies show. Some civilians have been evacuated from the plant after a ceasefire was introduced, according to a Ukrainian commander inside.

Russian submarine: Russia has released video showing it is using a submarine in the Black Sea to launch cruise missile attacks on Ukraine, confirming earlier Ukrainian military claims.

Explosions in Odesa: Multiple explosions in the southern city of Odesa were reported soon after 6 p.m. local time by Ukrainian media and witnesses. One witness told CNN she saw at least one combat plane over the city. The runway at Odesa's airport had been damaged, according to the Ukrainian military.

Russian tanks destroyed: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Ukrainian army has already destroyed more than 1,000 Russian tanks, nearly 200 Russian aircraft, and almost 2,500 armored fighting vehicles.

Rebuilding and recovery: 69% of de-occupied settlements in Ukraine now have “full-fledged local self-government” again, Zelensky said in his Saturday night address, adding the work of humanitarian offices has already begun in 93% of liberated settlements.

11:52 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Ukrainian army has destroyed more than 1,000 Russian tanks, Zelensky says

From CNN’s Hira Humayun and Masha Angelova

A destroyed Russian tank on a road in the Kyiv region on April 16.
A destroyed Russian tank on a road in the Kyiv region on April 16. Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Ukrainian army has already destroyed more than 1,000 Russian tanks, nearly 200 Russian aircraft, and almost 2,500 armored fighting vehicles.

Despite these losses, Russian troops still have equipment to launch additional attacks, Zelensky said.

Of course, the occupiers still have equipment in stock. Yes, they still have missiles to strike at our territory," he added. "But this war has already weakened Russia so much that they have to plan (to have) even fewer military equipment for the parade in Moscow."

On May 9, Russia plans to hold its traditional Victory Day parade in Red Square, commemorating the German surrender to the Soviet Union in the Second World War.

The Ukrainian President also said Russia has already lost more than 23,000 soldiers since the invasion began. CNN cannot independently verify this claim. 

Russia has sporadically released casualty figures that are low and which observers deem to be a massive underestimate. Two days prior to Russia’s update, two senior NATO military officials estimated the number of Russian soldiers killed in action in Ukraine to be between 7,000 and 15,000. Around the same time, other US officials had put Russian losses in a similar range -- between 7,000 and 14,000 Russian soldiers killed -- but they expressed “low confidence” in those estimates.

Earlier in the month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov briefly admitted Russia had suffered “significant” losses of its troops in Ukraine, calling the losses “a huge tragedy” for the country in an interview with Sky News. 

11:52 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Angelina Jolie speaks with refugees at boarding school and medical institution in Lviv

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam and Radina Gigova

Angelina Jolie with kids in Lviv, Ukraine, on April 30.
Angelina Jolie with kids in Lviv, Ukraine, on April 30.

Actress Angelina Jolie, who is also a United Nations special envoy for refugees, visited a boarding school and medical institution in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, according to Maksym Kozytskyy, the head of Lviv's regional military administration.

"In one of the medical institutions, she has visited children who suffered from a missile strike by the Russian military on the Kramatorsk train station. She was very moved by their stories. One girl was even able to tell Ms. Jolie about her dream privately," according to Kozytskyy.

When visiting a boarding school in the region, "she promised to come again," he said.

"She also took the time to talk to our volunteers who provide medical and psychological assistance at the Main Railway Station in Lviv. She thanked them for their work," he said. "She talked to people who managed to leave the zones of active hostilities."

"This visit was a surprise for all of us," Kozytskyy added.

UNHCR's Head of Global Communications Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams told CNN Saturday that "Angelina Jolie is traveling to the region in her personal capacity and UNHCR has no involvement in this visit." 

Earlier on Saturday, Jolie was photographed visiting a coffee shop in Lviv. CNN has reached out to Jolie's representatives for comment. 

11:52 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Ukrainian commander inside Mariupol steel plant says evacuations of civilians have begun

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

A satellite image shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian military holdout which is also serving as a civilian shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29.
A satellite image shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian military holdout which is also serving as a civilian shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

Some civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol after a ceasefire was introduced, according to a commander in the Azov Regiment, one of the Ukrainian soldiers trapped at the plant.

Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, said the ceasefire, which was supposed to begin at 6 a.m. local time, ended up starting at 11 a.m. local time.

"As of now, it's the truth, both sides follow the ceasefire regime," he said.

The evacuation convoy was very delayed, he said. "Since 6 a.m., we've been waiting for the evacuation convoy to arrive, which only arrived at 6:25 p.m."

"We have brought 20 civilians to the agreed meeting point, whom we've managed to rescue from under the rubble. These are women and children. We hope these people will go the agreed destination, which is Zaporizhzhia, the territory controlled by Ukraine," Palamar said.

"As of now, the rescue operation is ongoing, conducted by the servicemen of Azov - we rescue the civilians from under the rubble," he added.

"These are women, children and the elderly," he said in a video message on the regiment's Telegram channel.

"We hope that this process will be further extended and we will successfully evacuate all civilians," he said.

"As for the wounded — those people who require urgent medical care — it is unclear to us why they are not being evacuated and their evacuation to the territory controlled by Ukraine is not being discussed," he added.
"I emphasize that we ask to guarantee the evacuation not just for civilians but also for our wounded servicemen who require medical care."

TASS, Russia's state news agency, said earlier Saturday that a group of civilians left the steel plant. A correspondent on the scene told TASS that a total of 25 people came out, including six children under the age of 14. CNN cannot independently verify the TASS reporting.

There are thought to be hundreds of people inside the steel complex, including dozens injured during an intense Russian bombardment over the past several weeks. The latest satellite images of the plant show that many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins.

The defenders of the Azovstal plant said that attacks on Wednesday night had hit the makeshift hospital inside the complex, greatly adding to the number of injured. 

Here's what a part of the plant looked like approximately six weeks ago:

A satellite image from March 22 shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
A satellite image from March 22 shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.

11:52 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Multiple explosions reported in Odesa

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova

Ukrainian media and witnesses reported 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.