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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2:40 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Evacuation of civilians from besieged city of Mariupol paused until Monday, city council says

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Niamh Kennedy

The evacuation of civilians from the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been paused until Monday, according to the Mariupol City Council. 

In a Telegram post on Sunday, the city council said that due to "security reasons, the evacuation of the civilian population of Mariupol, located in other parts of the city, was postponed to Monday (May 2)." 

Evacuations will now commence at 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET), near the Port City shopping center in Mariupol, the post added. 

On Sunday, Ukrainian authorities alongside the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that an effort to evacuate civilians sheltering in the city's Azovstal steel plant was underway. 

 

2:13 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Pope Francis: "I suffer and weep" over plight of Ukrainian people

From CNN's Nicola Ruotolo and Manveena Suri

Pope Francis delivers his message from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square during the Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican, on Sunday, May 1.
Pope Francis delivers his message from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square during the Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican, on Sunday, May 1. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Pope Francis on Sunday described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a "macabre regression of humanity," saying the suffering of the Ukrainian people makes him “weep.” 

“I suffer and weep, thinking of the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and in particular of the weakest, the elderly and children. There are even terrible reports of children being expelled and deported,” the Pope said after leading a recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer that pays tribute to the Virgin Mother.

He said his thoughts “go immediately to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, ‘Mary’s city’," which has been "barbarously bombed and destroyed."  

The Pope went on to call for "safe humanitarian corridors" to be set up for those trapped in the besieged city's steelworks, asking “whether everything possible is being done to silence the weapons.”

 

12:34 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister tells EU's top diplomat that Russian oil embargo must be included in next sanctions 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a press conference in Sofia, Bulgaria on April 19.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a press conference in Sofia, Bulgaria on April 19. (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell that an embargo on Russian oil must be included in the bloc's next round of sanctions. 

In a tweet Sunday, Kuleba said he spoke with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy regarding "the next round of EU sanctions on Russia which must include an oil embargo." 

The foreign minister has criticized the EU's failure to impose an embargo on Russian oil imports, telling a NATO press conference in early April that "as long as the West continues buying Russian gas and oil it is supporting Ukraine with one hand while supporting the Russian war machine with another hand." 

During his talks with Borrell this week, Kuleba "also emphasized there can be no alternative to granting Ukraine EU candidate status," according to the tweet. 

On April 18, Ukraine completed another step in the long process to become an EU member state, handing over a form with answers to a European Union questionnaire. 

Finally, Kuleba and Borrell discussed the evacuations taking place in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, Kuleba said in his tweet. 

2:16 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Large fires break out at Russian military installation in Belgorod

From CNN's Tim Lister

(Pravda_Gerashchenko/Telegram)
(Pravda_Gerashchenko/Telegram)

Social media video shows fires and columns of black smoke rising from a site near Belgorod in Russia not far from the Ukrainian border. Other video shows police in the area redirecting traffic away from the area and helicopters circling above the city. 

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyascheslav Gladkov, said on Telegram that a fire had broken out at a facility belonging to the Ministry of Defense.

"On the border of three municipalities - Borisov and Belgorod districts and Yakovlevsky urban district - a fire occurred on the territory of one of the facilities of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation," he wrote.

12:36 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Russia's war in Ukraine causing "catastrophic effect" on global food prices, says USAID administrator

From CNN's Sonnet Swire

Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development speaks with ABC's "This Week," on Sunday May 1.
Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development speaks with ABC's "This Week," on Sunday May 1. (From ABC News)

Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said Sunday that the impacts of the war in Ukraine include global food shortages and prices, maintaining “our job is to look at it globally” when asked if the worldwide consequences are reflective of a brewing world war.

"It is just another catastrophic effect of Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine," Power said on ABC's "This Week.”

This comes after US President Joe Biden pressed Congress on Thursday to consider supplying Ukraine with an additional $33 billion aid package, with $3 billion allocated for humanitarian assistance and food security funding.

“Food prices, right now, George, globally, are up 34 percent from where they were a year ago. Aided substantially, again, by this invasion,” Power said, adding: “So we’ve gone to Congress asking for a substantial increase in humanitarian assistance.”

She continued: “We really do need this financial support from the Congress to be able to meet emergency food needs so we don’t see the cascading deadly effects of Russia’s war extend into Africa and beyond.”

Power noted that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East get much of their wheat from Ukraine, where farmers are struggling to plant and harvest their crops for fear of shelling and Russian landmines, she said. Their path to exporting these vital products is then severely restricted by Russia’s invasion which caused the closure of Ukraine's ports.

Power was pressed on the nature of the crisis by host George Stephanopoulos, who noted that “listening to you lay out these consequences, it’s hard not to conclude that in some respects this is already become something of a world war.”

“Certainly in terms of effects, not confined to the horrors that the Ukrainian people are suffering,” Power responded. “But our job is to look at it globally.”

“Russia tries to take advantage of this and say, 'oh, it’s the sanctions that are causing these high food prices.' Not at all," she said. "It is Russian’s invasion of Ukraine for no reason and its unwillingness now to come to the negotiating table and get out of Ukraine and get back to Russia.”

2:18 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Red Cross confirms Mariupol evacuation operation is ongoing

From CNN's Andrew Carey in Lviv

Azovstal steel plant employee Natalia Usmanova, 37, who was evacuated from Mariupol, arrives at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine on May 1.
Azovstal steel plant employee Natalia Usmanova, 37, who was evacuated from Mariupol, arrives at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine on May 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with the United Nations in an ongoing operation to move people out of Mariupol and the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the ICRC said in a statement. 

“The ICRC confirms that a safe passage operation is ongoing, in coordination with the UN and the parties to the conflict. The convoy to evacuate civilians started on 29 April, travelled some 230 kilometres and reached the plant in Mariupol on Saturday morning, local time, according to the statement. "The ICRC insists on the fact that no details can be shared until the situation allows, as it could seriously jeopardize the safety of the civilians and the convoy. Relevant local authorities are communicating with the civilians about practical details."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that the "Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began."

"The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area," he added.

Mariupol's city council said Sunday there was a "chance" to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol.

The Council urged people to gather at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) near a shopping center called "Port City" in order to evacuate them to the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

"If you have relatives or acquaintances in Mariupol, try to contact them by all ways. Call, text and say that it is possible to go to Zaporozhzhia, where it is safe," the Council said on Telegram.

"We pray that everything works," it added.

A local Telegram channel said earlier that through 3 p.m. local time, a "green corridor" would be open for citizens wishing to enter territory "controlled by the enemy in the Kamensky district."

There are about 100,000 people still in Mariupol, even though most of the city has been severely damaged by weeks of shelling and airstrikes by Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials have been giving more details on the evacuation of civilians who had been trapped at the Azovstal steep plant. 

David Arakhamia, an advisor to President Zelensky, said: "Today is the third day of a special operation we call "Azovstal evacuation." Since the beginning of the war, since the beginning of the blockade of Azovstal, we have managed to withdraw more than 100 civilians - small children, women and the elderly."

Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister, said on Ukrainian television: "Sorry, we were silent. We really wanted everything to work out. Our silence was in order for people to come out alive and unharmed. More than 100 people have been evacuated, and the evacuation continues. All this happened thanks to the control of the President of Ukraine Zelensky, Antonio Guterres, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, for which we are very, very grateful."

Some more context: Mariupol is home to the Azovstal steel plant, which has been subjected to heavy Russian bombardment in recent weeks. Hundreds of people, dozens of whom are injured, are thought to be inside the steel-making complex.

The Russian news agency TASS says that according to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, 80 civilians have now been rescued from the “territory” of the Azovstal plant and evacuated to a Russian controlled compound a few miles away 

It’s unclear whether any of them came from within the plant itself, where hundreds of civilians have been under a weeks-long bombardment. 

"Civilians evacuated by Russian servicemen from the Azovstal plant, who wished to leave for areas controlled by the Kiev regime, were handed over to representatives of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross," the ministry said. 

The report followed comments from a Ukrainian commander inside the plant who said some civilians have been evacuated from the steel works after the introduction of a ceasefire.

It was hoped that these civilians, all women and children, would go to the "agreed destination" of Zaporizhzhia, Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar said.

CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko contributed to this report.

12:37 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Top Republican on US House Foreign Affairs Committee is confident Congress can pass Ukraine aid quickly

From CNN's Ali Main and Daniella Diaz

Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee speaks with ABC's "This Week," on Sunday May 1.
Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee speaks with ABC's "This Week," on Sunday May 1. (From ABC News)

Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed confidence on Sunday that a new aid package for Ukraine could pass in Congress relatively quickly.

"I think time is of the essence," he told ABC's "This Week," adding that he believes the next two to three weeks are going to be "very pivotal" in Russia's war on Ukraine.

The Texas Republican said he wished Congress had been presented even earlier with the $33 billion supplemental funding bill for Ukraine aid that President Biden outlined last week.

"I don't think we have a lot of time to waste in Congress. I wish we'd had this a little bit sooner, but we have it now," he said, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos that if it were up to him, he would call the House back from recess this week to pass the aid legislation.

On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led an official congressional delegation to Kyiv, where the group discussed humanitarian and financial assistance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"Every day we don't send [Ukraine] more weapons is a day where more people will be killed and a day where they could lose this war. I think they can win it. But we have to give them the tools to do it," he explained.

Pressed on the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin may resort to using nuclear weapons, McCaul answered "that's always a concern."

He said he thinks Russia's potential use of a chemical weapon or tactical nuclear weapon would be "beyond the pale" and "crosses a red line."

If that happens, he said, the US and allies would have to respond "in kind."

On the Senate side, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez told Fox that they could take up the bill "either this week or next."

"Either this week, or the next of course, if there is consensus, if there is an agreement, as you know, anything can go through the Senate through unanimous consent," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "If somehow there is a desire to start picking it apart or having amendments to it, it could last longer, but time is of the essence."

10:06 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Lions trapped in a zoo in Kharkiv are now safe in Odesa

From CNN's Tim Lister

One of the white lions is seen in an enclosure at the zoo in Odesa, Ukraine, on April 14.
One of the white lions is seen in an enclosure at the zoo in Odesa, Ukraine, on April 14. (Str/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Two lions that were trapped at the zoo in Kharkiv as fighting raged in the region have begun a new life hundreds of miles away in the zoo at Odesa.

The manager of Odesa zoo, Ihor Beliakov, said he and his deputy had driven to Kharkiv to collect the lions.

They drove all night to get to Kharkiv, loaded the lions into their van at 7 a.m. and then drove all the way back to Odesa — an 18-hour trip as they avoided the frontlines.

"The lions were silent during the trip. There were no incidents on the way, we were not shelled, nothing like that," Beliakov said. 

They only had to refuel once, and perhaps unsurprisingly there were no lines. 

The lions are now recovering in Odesa.

"They eat well," Beliakov said — and there are hopes that the two six year-olds will have cubs. 

They have been renamed after characters in " The Lion King" — Mufasa and Nala. 

Beliakov said the workers at the Kharkiv Eco-Park were heroes for getting so many of the animals there to safety. 

12:50 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Ukraine's Ambassador to US says Pelosi's Kyiv visit was "symbolic"

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a recent visit to the US Capitol on April 28.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a recent visit to the US Capitol on April 28. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova said Sunday the recent visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Kyiv was "symbolic" and that Ukraine looks forward to the approval by the US Congress of a $33 billion supplemental funding bill aimed at supporting Ukraine over the next several months.

"We need all the assistance we can get in defensive weapons, in military support, in financial support but also in humanitarian support," Markarova said in an interview with ABC's "This Week." "We look forward to Congress approving it" and "we count on the US in this," she said.

Markarova reiterated Kyiv's position that "for us there is no question Ukraine will win" the war with Russia, adding "the question is how many brave Ukrainians we will lose."

On Saturday, Pelosi led the first official US congressional delegation to Ukraine since Russia's invasion began.