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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5:20 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

There will be civilian evacuations from Mariupol on Tuesday, city council says

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Josh Pennington and Tim Lister

There will be a civilian evacuation on Tuesday in Mariupol, according to the city council's Telegram channel. 

The agreement, according to the Mariupol City Council, was officially agreed upon with assistance from the United Nations and the Red Cross.

Although it will evacuate Mariupol citizens, the convoy will actually be leaving from a roundabout near Berdiansk, a Russian-occupied city to the west of Mariupol, at 7 a.m. local time.

4:38 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

New images show evacuation efforts from Mariupol steel plant

From CNN's Bernadette Tuazon

Members of the Ukrainian National Guard assist a civilian as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant on Sunday.
Members of the Ukrainian National Guard assist a civilian as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant on Sunday. (Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard/AP)

On Sunday, more than 100 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Sunday evening that for the first time, the vital corridor to evacuate civilians from the plant had started working, paving the way for them to pass through.

This was short-lived, however, as Russian shelling once again intensified and put a halt to further rescue efforts, commander of the 12th brigade of the National Guard Denis Schlegar said.

These images were taken on Sunday during the partial evacuation. They were only transmitted on Monday.

People walk over debris at the Azovstal steel plant during the evacuation.
People walk over debris at the Azovstal steel plant during the evacuation. (Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard/AP)

Ukrainian National Guardsmen assist a civilian over a pile of debris as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant.
Ukrainian National Guardsmen assist a civilian over a pile of debris as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant. (Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard/AP)

4:30 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

State Department: US welcomes reports that some civilians have been able to evacuate Mariupol

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The United States welcomes reports that “some civilians have been able to evacuate Mariupol” and encourages “continued efforts" to allow civilians to depart the southern port city and other cities under siege, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

“We want to make sure that the limited humanitarian access we've seen in recent hours is not fleeting. Doing so would demonstrate that there may be a genuine humanitarian intent behind this evacuation and not just another craven attempt on the part of the Kremlin to change the narrative, to achieve a PR victory,” Price said during a State Department briefing.

Price noted the US is in communication with the international organizations involved in evacuation efforts “because we know that humanitarian corridors are absolutely critical to evacuating citizens and providing urgently needed humanitarian aid.”

7:45 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Source: Only "a few hundred thousand dollars left" of $3 billion in Biden's drawdown authority for Ukraine

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

There is only “a few hundred thousand dollars left” out of the $3 billion in presidential drawdown authority (PDA) funding the Biden administration has been using to supply Ukraine with military assistance, a Senate aide told CNN. 

“The PDA is very close to exhausted,” the aide said.

The $3 billion in PDA funding was included in the $13.6 billion Ukraine aid supplemental that was passed along with the massive omnibus spending bill on March 15.

The PDA funding is one of the primary ways the US is helping supply Ukraine with military assistance during the ongoing war countering Russia’s invasion of the country. It is “authorization from the President to pull from our own stocks,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing Monday.

There have been eight packages of military assistance authorized by the Biden administration through PDA funding. The last one was signed by Biden on April 21. As of April 28, the Biden administration had $250 million left in PDA funding, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the White House press briefing last week.

Last week, the Biden administration asked Congress to pass another $33 billion in funding to provide additional military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. This proposal would put $5 billion back into PDA funding, the Senate aide said.

As CNN’s Manu Raju reported earlier, congressional sources involved in discussions over the Ukraine funding bill do not expect that the package will come together this week. The sources said there are still many issues to sort through on the package, and it will likely take at least a couple of weeks to get the bill language sorted out.

CNN's MJ Lee contributed reporting to this post.

4:27 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Ukrainian fighters hope to evacuate 100 civilians and 20 children still trapped in Mariupol's Azovstal plant

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London 

Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, following heaving Russian bombardment.
Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, following heaving Russian bombardment. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian fighters hope to evacuate the 100 adults and 20 children still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, located near the southern city of Mariupol. 

In an interview with Reuters Monday, Deputy Commander of the Azov regiment Sviataslav Palamar described the mixed feelings he experienced when civilians were safely evacuated from the steel works on Sunday after weeks of being trapped there. 

Palamar said he felt “joy through tears” seeing the civilians leave the steelworks, stressing that during the time they were trapped “thousands of people have died.”

“I do hope they will be another round of evacuations and they will be able to take out those civilians who are still here in this plant. We are talking about 20 children. That's what we've counted — and 100 civilians, women, elderly people,” Palamar said. 

The Ukrainian authorities had plans to rescue people trapped under the rubble on Monday but were unable to do to so due to non-stop artillery fire from Russian soldiers, Palamar said. 

“There are people in the rubble. We hear them talking but we're not able to do anything,” the deputy commander emphasized. 

He said the work “would have been 90% easier if we would have been given special equipment” and would have “saved lives of servicemen.”

Palamar also highlighted the plight of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who he said is shouldering the “great responsibility” of the Azovstal evacuations as the “commander-in-chief.”

 

3:46 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

There are currently no plans for Biden to travel to Ukraine, White House says 

From CNN's DJ Judd

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House, Monday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House, Monday. Susan Walsh/AP Images

There are currently no plans for US President Joe Biden to travel to Ukraine, despite travel to the region from Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the last several weeks, the White House told CNN Monday.

“Well, there's no plans in the works at this time, and obviously, we'll continue to assess,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins at Monday’s White House press briefing. “And as you know, we our objective is to reopen the embassy, to have our diplomats back there, not just traveling back and forth, but present in the country, and I know the President would love to visit Ukraine, but not, no plans in the works at this point.” 

Ahead of Russia’s “Victory Day,” a prominent holiday that marks Nazi surrender in World War II, Psaki hinted the US would have more to convey to “mark our support for the Ukrainians and the Europeans in some capacity” in the coming days. She declined to offer specifics. Officials tell CNN Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to be able to celebrate a victory – of some kind – in his war on that day.

“Well, we know that President Putin has emphasized the significance of this day, for him and for the Russian military, but I don't have anything to preview or predict at this point in time from here about what they are may or may not do,” Psaki told CNN, later adding, “Well, we will certainly mark our support for the Ukrainians and the Europeans in some capacity, but I don't have anything more specific at this point in time.”

According to the White House, Biden spoke with members of this weekend’s congressional delegation to Ukraine, led by Speaker Pelosi, but plans to hold “a more extensive briefing from them when they return.”

Pressed on comments from Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, that Ukraine requested additional aid, Psaki told CNN the administration is “going to continue to consult with and rely on the advice of the Department of Defense on what weapons systems and equipment the Ukrainians need to continue to succeed in the war." She did not offer specifics on what requests the delegation relayed.

 

4:51 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

New video shows large smoke plume over Mariupol

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Matthew Friedman and Tim Lister

(From Telegram)
(From Telegram)

A large smoke plume in the vicinity of Azovstal steel plant — the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol — is seen rising over the city in new video.

CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video, which was first posted on Telegram by a pro-Russian channel on Monday evening. 

The video shows the large, black smoke plume near the northern side of the sprawling steel plant complex. It's unclear from the video whether the smoke is emanating from the plant itself, or whether it's from an area just nearby.

However, a deputy commander with the Azov battalion at the plant, confirmed to CNN that the smoke in the video was coming from the plant, which was hit by a military strike. The soldier would not say what part of the plant was hit, noting that they did not want the Russians to correct their aim. 

CNN has previously reported that a commander among the Ukrainian soldiers at the besieged Azovstal steel plant says the complex has been under "constant fire" since early Monday.

The video also shows a number of cars on a roadway in northwestern Mariupol, in addition to bombed out public buses and military vehicles. Apartment complexes on the side of the road also have sustained damage during the siege of the city.

4:56 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Road bridge near Sloviansk heavily damaged

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv and Paul P Murphy

(From Telegram)
(From Telegram)

Images geolocated by CNN show that an important road bridge linking the town of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region with settlements further east has been heavily damaged. It appears that at least one artillery round landed close to or on the bridge, which spans the Syverskiy Donets river.

A few days ago, the railway bridge just to the north was disabled by what appears to have been an explosive charge.

Neither the Ukrainian nor Russian forces have commented.

The bridges are an important link between Sloviansk and the town of Lyman further east, which has been under heavy attack by Russian artillery for several days. 

5:48 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

US intel reports Russia will try to annex Donetsk and Luhansk regions by "mid-May," ambassador says

From CNN's Michael Conte and Jennifer Hansler

The US has “highly credible” intelligence reports that Russia will try to annex the separatist-occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk “some time in mid-May,” and that there are plans to create a similarly so-called “people’s republic” in Kherson to be annexed as well, the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said.

“The reports state that Russia has plans to engineer referenda on joining Russia some time in mid-May, and that Moscow is considering a similar plan for Kherson,” said Ambassador Michael Carpenter at a news briefing at the State Department.

Carpenter added that Russia is reportedly abducting local officials in towns they hold in eastern and southern Ukraine to replace with “groups that are loyal to Moscow,” and are also disappearing “school directors, journalists, local activists, municipal officials.”

“More recently, there have been reports as well that Russian forces have cut off internet and some cellular phone access in these regions in order to disable the flow of reliable information,” said Carpenter, adding that in these towns, Russia “may try to hold sham referenda to try to add a veneer of democratic or electoral legitimacy.”