May 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Ben Church and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT) May 3, 2022
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4:09 a.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Ukrainian commander says "turbulent" night at Azovstal plant, 200 civilians remain

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

A satellite image shows an overview of the destruction at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29.
A satellite image shows an overview of the destruction at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

A Ukrainian commander inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol said his men experienced a turbulent night after the first batch of evacuees were able to leave the plant on Sunday.

"As soon as the evacuation of civilians was completed yesterday, the enemy began using all kinds of weapons. The night was restless," said Denys Shleha, commander of the 12th Operational Brigade of the National Guard.
"The [Russian] naval artillery worked on Azovstal from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.. In the morning it became quieter."

It is unclear whether another batch of civilians trapped inside the complex will be able to leave on Monday.

"I will not say anything about the evacuation from Azovstal. We are trying our best to do it, we are begging for it," Shleha said.

He said there are about 200 people, including 20 children, left on the premises.

We beg that people should be removed from Azovstal. The enemy strikes with all kinds of weapons. Everything is very bad," he said.
"The biggest problem is wounded servicemen. Our field hospital was bombed a few days ago. Medical care is provided to the military in extremely difficult conditions. There are currently about 500 of them at Azovstal. Their injuries are of varying severity. This is the biggest problem that needs to be resolved," Shleha said.

Shleha also spoke of the need to get the remaining fighters out of the plant.

"After the evacuation of civilians and the wounded, it is necessary to resolve issues with the garrison. Our men did everything possible and impossible for the state of the world during these 68 days," he said.

3:30 a.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Ukraine says Russians pressing offensive towards Sloviansk

From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian Army medical units unload a shell-shocked and concussed soldier at a medical facility in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on April 29.
Ukrainian Army medical units unload a shell-shocked and concussed soldier at a medical facility in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on April 29. (Scott Peterson/Getty Images)

Russian forces are pressing an offensive in the direction of Sloviansk, an important town in the Donetsk region, according to the Ukrainian military.

The offensive involves heavy shelling of Ukrainian defenses, the General Staff said in its daily update.

The enemy fired on the units of our troops on the Lyman-Siversk border in order to oust them from their positions and create conditions for the attack on Sloviansk," it said.

Some analysts say Russian forces have made modest territorial gains in this region over the past week, but Lyman remains in Ukrainian hands.

The General Staff said Russian forces were attacking a large number of towns in the Luhansk region, and had tried to improve their positions around the town of Popasna by moving one battalion tactical group from Mariupol.

Altogether 10 attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk had been repulsed and Ukrainian forces had destroyed a wide variety of Russian hardware, it claimed.

"The enemy deployed additional surface-to-air missile systems in the temporarily occupied territories of the Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions," it said.

Three people in Luhansk were killed as heavy shelling persisted in Lysychansk, Zolote and Popasna, according to Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk's military administration.

Heavy prolonged shelling prevented a full-fledged evacuation, he said.

In areas of southern Ukraine where fighting continues, Russian forces were looking for weaknesses in Ukrainian defenses to the south of Mykolaiv as they try to extend their control to the whole of the Kherson region, which borders Crimea, the General Staff said.

Parts of southern Zaporizhzhia have also seen heavy fighting. The regional command said Monday that "the enemy tried to break through in small groups with the support of armored vehicles, tanks and artillery, but failed."

The towns of Polohy and Orikhiv were among those targeted with shelling, it said.

It also claimed that Russian forces were forcing farmers "under the barrels of machine guns" to sell grain at a steep discount.

There has also been an uptick in attacks on grain stores and elevators.

Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional state administration, said Monday that a grain warehouse had been destroyed in the Synelnykove district.

12:38 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

UN-supported convoy will try to leave Mariupol on Monday, city council says

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong and Hannah Ritchie

In this image provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, a Red Cross official waves a white flag while approaching the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Sunday.
In this image provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, a Red Cross official waves a white flag while approaching the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Sunday. (International Committee of the Red Cross/AP)

A convoy supported by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross will attempt to leave Mariupol on Monday, the city council said in a Telegram post.

“There is good news. With the support of the UN and Red Cross, today two additional locations have been agreed upon for placing people in the evacuation convoy that will leave Mariupol,” the post read. 

The convoy will collect civilians at several pickup points around Mariupol before taking them to two villages near the southern Ukrainian city of Berdiansk, according to the city council.  

Civilian evacuations from Mariupol — which has endured weeks of Russian shelling and airstrikes — were paused by local authorities on Sunday for “security reasons.”

Before the pause, some 100 people were successfully evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steelworks. According to recent estimates, roughly 100,000 civilians still remain in the city. 

Last week during a one-on-one meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in principle to allow the UN and Red Cross to assist in civilian evacuations from Mariupol. 

1:01 a.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Some South Korean embassy staff return to Kyiv, Foreign Ministry says

From CNN’s Gawon Bae in Seoul

The South Korean ambassador to Ukraine, alongside some members of staff from the embassy in Kyiv, returned to the city on Saturday and will restart operations on Monday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

Ambassador Kim Hyung-tae and the staff members returned to the capital from Chernivtsi, in western Ukraine. The city was one of the two locations where the embassy has been operating temporary offices.

The embassy will carry out diplomatic work and protect South Korean citizens by closely cooperating with the Ukrainian government from Kyiv,” the ministry said.

The remaining embassy workers in Chernivtsi and Romania may gradually return to Kyiv, depending on the local situation, the ministry added.

South Korea’s embassy moved out of Kyiv on March 2 because of escalating violence around the capital region and began working from temporary offices in the Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Chernivtsi. The offices in Lviv closed on March 18.

The foreign ministry said there are also temporary offices in Romania.

12:35 a.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Two explosions hit Russia’s Belgorod region, no casualties reported, governor says

From CNN’s Hannah Ritchie

Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, was hit by two explosions in the early hours of Monday morning, governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post. 

Thirty minutes ago, I woke up to two strong bursts. According to the operational headquarters, there is no damage or destruction. There are no casualties,” Gladkov said around 2.40 a.m. local time.

Monday's explosions come after a large fire broke out at a Russian Ministry of Defense military installation in Belgorod on Sunday. The cause of the incident was unclear. 

Russian officials have repeatedly accused Ukraine of mounting cross border attacks on fuel depots and military installations, claims which Ukrainian government agencies say are intended to stoke "anti-Ukrainian sentiment."

12:53 a.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Jill Biden to travel to Romania and Slovakia on mission to support Ukrainian refugees

From CNN’s Kate Bennett

First Lady Jill Biden delivers remarks during the Council of Chief State School Officers' 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event, in the White House, on Apr. 27
First Lady Jill Biden delivers remarks during the Council of Chief State School Officers' 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event, in the White House, on Apr. 27 (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

First lady Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Slovakia this week in a show of support for displaced Ukrainian families forced to flee bloodshed and violence in their home country in the wake of Russia’s invasion. 

Biden will also use the trip to meet with members of the United States military stationed overseas, as well as top-level government officials in both countries, according to a release from the White House East Wing. 

Her itinerary: The first lady will leave Washington for Romania on Thursday, stopping first at Mihail Kogalniceau Airbase on Friday, where she will meet service members before heading to the capital city of Bucharest on Saturday. 

In Bucharest: Biden will hold meetings with members of the Romanian government, as well as humanitarian aid workers. After Poland, Romania has seen the largest influx of Ukrainian refugees as a result of the crisis, with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians crossing the border into the country since the war began three months ago. 

She will also spend time in Bucharest with educators who are helping teach displaced Ukrainian children.

In Bratislava: Biden will then travel to Slovakia, where she will meet US embassy staff before leaving the following day for Kosice and Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia, to meet Ukrainian refugees and Slovakians who have opened their homes to families from Ukraine. More than 250,000 Ukrainians have fled to Slovakia, a country of more than five million residents. 

Wrapping up: On Monday, May 9, Biden will wrap up her trip by meeting members of the Slovakian government before leaving for the US. 

The trip will be the First Lady’s second solo foreign trip; in July she went to Japan to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

12:00 a.m. ET, May 2, 2022

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

The Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol came under fire after about 100 civilians were evacuated on Sunday, according to a Ukrainian soldier. It's estimated hundreds of Ukrainian civilians -- dozens of whom are injured -- are still trapped in the ruins of the plant.

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

Evacuations from Mariupol to resume: The Ukrainian government will continue to evacuate people from Mariupol on Monday, starting at around 8 a.m. local time, the Mariupol City Council said. Evacuations were paused over Sunday night due to "security reasons."

Shelling of Azovstal threatens evacuations: After a rare period of quiet that allowed about 100 people to be evacuated, the Azovstal steel complex came under fire again Sunday night, according to a Ukrainian soldier. It's unclear whether the renewed shelling will jeopardize the next stage of the evacuation, due on Monday. The evacuation effort is being coordinated by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Pelosi to meet Polish President: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday. Pelosi met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Saturday, saying afterwards during a Congressional delegation’s visit to Poland that the visit sent “an unmistakable message to the world: that America stands firmly with our NATO allies in our support for Ukraine.”

Russia shells Kharkiv: Three people were killed and eight injured by Russian shelling in the Kharkiv region on Sunday, according to Oleg Sinegubov, head of the regional military administration. Russian forces have been trying to push south and west from the Izium area, much of which they captured a month ago.

Large fires in Belgorod: Social media video shows fires and columns of black smoke rising from a site near Belgorod in Russia near the Ukrainian border. The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyascheslav Gladkov, said on Telegram that a fire had broken out at a Ministry of Defense facility.

"Catastrophic effect" on global food prices: Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said on Sunday the impacts of Russia's war in Ukraine include global food shortages and rising prices. She said “our job is to look at it globally” when asked if the worldwide consequences are reflective of a brewing world war. 

11:54 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Some civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant this weekend. Here's what we know

Civilians who left the area near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on May 1.
Civilians who left the area near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on May 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday about 100 civilians had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in the besieged city of Mariupol, following weeks of heavy Russian bombardment.

Here's what we know about the situation:

  • Hundreds of people -- dozens of whom are injured -- are thought to still be trapped inside the complex. They include civilians and Ukrainian forces who are running out of water, food and medicine after two months.
  • After a rare period of quiet on Sunday that allowed for some evacuations, the complex came under fire again Sunday night, according to a Ukrainian soldier in Mariupol who spoke to Ukrainian television.
  • It's unclear whether the renewed shelling will jeopardize the next stage of the evacuation from Azovstal, due on Monday.
  • Nearly every building at the plant has been destroyed, new satellite images showed Saturday.
  • The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross are coordinating the safe passage efforts.
  • The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the operation began on Friday alongside a joint UN/ICRC convoy traveling from Zaporizhzhia and reached the steel plant in Mariupol on Saturday morning.
  • UN OCHA said women, children and the elderly were being evacuated to Zaporizhzhia where they will receive humanitarian and psychological support.
  • Zelensky said the first evacuees will arrive in Zaporizhzhia on Monday morning where the Ukrainian government will meet them.
  • He added the Ukrainian government will continue to evacuate people from Mariupol on Monday, starting approximately around 8 a.m. local time.
  • The Russian news agency TASS, citing the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, reported that 80 civilians were 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.

Read more on the situation in Mariupol here.

11:54 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

CNN team in South Ukraine sees convoy of 120 cars carrying families fleeing Russian-occupied Kherson

From CNN's Natalie Gallón and Maryna Marukhnych in Kochubeivka

A long convoy of vehicles attempting to drive north toward the city of Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on May 1.
A long convoy of vehicles attempting to drive north toward the city of Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on May 1. (Natalie Gallón/CNN)

Hundreds of people who had fled their homes in Russian-occupied Kherson were seen evacuating in a convoy of vehicles Sunday afternoon driving north toward the city of Kryvyi Rih. 

A CNN team on the ground in southern Ukraine counted at least 120 cars coming up through the town of Kochubeivka. Some vehicles had white cloths wrapped around the door handles and side mirrors, while others had banners with the word “children” written on them.

Olga, 17, told CNN her family began their journey early in the morning, for a second time. The first time they tried, it was forbidden to leave, she said.

I hate them," she said of the Russian soldiers.

“I was scared, but there were few checkpoints,” she added about the route to evacuate.

Olga, 17, told CNN her family began their journey early in the morning.
Olga, 17, told CNN her family began their journey early in the morning. (Natalie Gallón/CNN)

Olga said shops in Kherson were empty, and noted cellphone and internet connections had been cut around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday evening.

The CNN team saw families crammed into cars, many with elderly parents; other evacuees were seen shielding their pets, as artillery fire could be heard in the background and smoke billowed into the sky.