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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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.

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

US House Intelligence Committee Chairman says It's only "a matter of time" before Biden visits Ukraine

From CNN’s Sarah Fortinsky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Gregory Meeks and Rep. Adam Schiff on April 30, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Gregory Meeks and Rep. Adam Schiff on April 30, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/Getty Images)

US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff detailed the roughly three-hour discussion members of the Congressional delegation to Kyiv had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Sunday, and said he thinks "it's only a matter of time" before US President Joe Biden visits Ukraine.

I have to think that a presidential visit is something under consideration, but only a question of how soon that will be feasible," Schiff told CNN's Jim Acosta. Schiff noted the delegation did not discuss the topic on the call with Biden Sunday. 

Schiff said the meeting with Zelensky focused on what his priorities are for further assistance, especially as Ukrainians enter a new phase of the war with more concentrated fighting in the eastern part of the country. Members of the delegation subsequently relayed the information to Biden on the call, Schiff said, and made recommendations to the President.

Asked what Zelensky thought about the $33 billion price tag Biden requested in his supplemental aid request for Ukraine to Congress, Schiff said: "It's his job to say that nothing is enough and, you know, we understand that, we respect that. Nonetheless, I think he's very grateful for what we're doing."

"We wanted to discuss with him, within that really vast sum, what is the priority in terms of what weapons that he needs, what other assistance that he needs," Schiff said. "We went through a detailed discussion of the next phase of the war. It's moving from a phase in which Ukrainians were ambushing Russian tanks -- it was close-quarters fighting -- to fighting more at a distance using long range artillery, and that changes the nature of what Ukraine needs to defend itself."

Schiff said they discussed a variety of issues, including ensuring he's getting the military equipment he needs and is getting it quickly. They discussed the humanitarian crisis, refugees, war crimes, and he said, "I wanted to make sure as the intelligence chair that he's getting the intelligence that he needs."

Schiff said members of the delegation wanted to communicate to Zelensky at the meeting a message of support because, "If Russia can get away with this, this naked aggression, this invasion of their neighbor, you know, what's to make us think they'll stop with Ukraine."

11:53 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Shelling resumes at Azovstal steel plant, Ukrainian officer says

From CNN's Mariya Knight, Olga Voitovych and Tim Lister

A plant of the Azovstal steel works in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29.
A plant of the Azovstal steel works in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

After a rare period of quiet that allowed about 100 people to be evacuated, the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol came under fire again Sunday night, according to a Ukrainian soldier in Mariupol.

The occupiers began firing on Azovstal again as soon as the evacuation of some Ukrainians was completed," the commander of the 12th brigade of the National Guard Denis Schlega told a Ukrainian television channel.

They were using "all kinds of weapons," he claimed. 

It's unclear whether the renewed shelling will jeopardize the next stage of the evacuation from Azovstal, which is due Monday. It's estimated hundreds of Ukrainian civilians are still trapped in the ruins of the plant.  

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said "hundreds of civilians remain blocked in Azovstal together with the defenders of Mariupol. The situation has become a sign of a real humanitarian catastrophe, because people are running out of water, food and medicine," she said.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said in an interview on Italian television Sunday the "Kyiv authorities are trying by all means to achieve the withdrawal of the Ukrainian radicals remaining in Azovstal, since among them there may be Western officers and mercenaries."

There's been no firm evidence western nationals are among the fighters at Azovstal.

"The situation with the confrontation at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol and the stubborn, even hysterical desire of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky, his team and his Western patrons to achieve the withdrawal of all these people and send them to the territory of Ukraine is explained by the fact that there are many characters who will confirm the presence of mercenaries and, perhaps, active officers of the western armies on the side of the Ukrainian radicals," Lavrov said.
11:53 p.m. ET, May 1, 2022

Pelosi on Poland visit: "America stands firmly with our NATO allies in our support for Ukraine"

From CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during her meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 30.
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during her meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 30. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says a Congressional delegation’s visit to Poland sends “an unmistakable message to the world: that America stands firmly with our NATO allies in our support for Ukraine.”

Pelosi said the delegation was able to meet with troops from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Poland, and is looking forward to meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday.

“These engagements are even more meaningful following our meeting in Kyiv with President Volodymr Zelensky and other top Ukrainian leaders. In that profound and solemn visit, our delegation conveyed our respect and gratitude to President Zelensky for his leadership and our admiration of the Ukrainian people for their courage in the fight against Russia’s diabolical invasion. Our Members were proud to deliver the message that additional American support is on the way, as we work to transform President Biden’s strong funding request into a legislative package,” Pelosi said.