May 3, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Ben Church, Ed Upright, Sana Noor Haq, Jessie Yeung, Andrew Raine and Helen Regan, CNN

Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT) May 4, 2022
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11:13 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Some evacuees from Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant arrive in Zaporizhzhia

Refugees begin to arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 3
Refugees begin to arrive in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 3 (CNN)

CNN spoke to some evacuees from Mariupol's embattled Azovstal steel plant as they arrive in Ukraine-controlled Zaporizhzhia.

An elderly woman who emerged from a bus was carrying small amounts of medicine, a plastic cup, a toothbrush, a tissue paper — the things she was living off over the past weeks. 

"I have nobody here. I don't know where to go now," she told CNN.

She had been sheltering in Azovstal for weeks and hadn't seen the sun in days.

"You can see in the exhaustion of her face. And you can see the head torch around her neck. She's clearly been living in the dark," CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reported.

Not having seen the sunlight in days meant she was now having some difficulty seeing, he added.

Civilians evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have arrived in Zaporizhzhia. 

CNN's team saw the arrival of five buses with evacuees and witnessed emotional scenes, as the evacuees emerged from the buses and were greeted by volunteers. 

After getting off the buses, the evacuees are heading to tents that the Ukrainian government has set up to help them with the next part of their journey.  

See evacuees from Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant arrive in Zaporizhzhia:

10:05 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

UN agencies say Azovstal steel plant evacuees have arrived in Zaporizhzhia

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that civilians evacuated from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have reached safety in Zaporizhzhia.

"We'll continue to engage parties to the conflict & do all we can to support safe passage for civilians trapped in war-impacted areas," the OCHA said.

The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, said she was "relieved to confirm that the safe passage operation from Mariupol has been successful."

"The people I travelled with told me heartbreaking stories of the hell they went through. I'm thinking about the people who remain trapped. We will do all we can to assist them," she tweeted.

The International Red Cross also confirmed the safe arrival of the convoy.

See the tweet:

9:48 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

US State Department now classifies WNBA player Brittney Griner as "wrongfully detained" in Russia

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States looks on against Serbia during the second half of the women's basketball semifinals on August 6 in Saitama, Japan.
Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States looks on against Serbia during the second half of the women's basketball semifinals on August 6 in Saitama, Japan. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The US State Department has now classified WNBA player Brittney Griner as wrongfully detained in Russia and her case is now being handled by the office of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) Roger Carstens, a State Department official confirms to CNN. 

The SPEHA office leads and coordinates the government's diplomatic efforts aimed at securing the release of Americans wrongfully detained abroad. They played a major role in securing the release of Trevor Reed from Russia last week

"When it comes to our efforts to free Americans, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Ambassador Carstens, he will go anywhere, he will talk to anyone if it means that we’re able to come home with an American, to reunite that American with her or his family," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and player for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport and accused by Russian authorities of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance — an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

9:24 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

More than 100 people evacuated from Azovstal plant expected to arrive in Zaporizhzhia Tuesday

From Maryna Marukhnych and Natalie Gallon in Zaporizhzhia and Tim Lister in Lviv

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has told reporters in Zaporizhzhia that a convoy of 106 people evacuated from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol is expected to arrive later Tuesday.

But she said hundreds of others trying to leave Mariupol and other Russian-occupied areas were being prevented from doing so by Russian forces.

Vereshchuk said that the ceasefire around Azovstal had not been long enough to get all civilians out, "so hundreds more women, children and the elderly are under the rubble." 

She said there were also 40 seriously injured soldiers trapped at the plant in urgent need of medical care.

Of the 150 people who had been able to leave the ruined complex, she said, 106 had been sent to Zaporizhzhia.

Vereshchuk accused the Russians of changing agreements about the evacuations, which meant that people from occupied towns like Tokmak and Vasylivka, which are south of Zaporizhzhia, could not leave.

The evacuation from Azovstal was brokered and organized by the United Nations and International Red Cross.

“It is an immense relief that some civilians who have suffered for weeks are now out,” International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer said Tuesday. 

“The ICRC hasn’t forgotten the people who are still there, nor those in other areas affected by the hostilities or those in dire need of humanitarian relief, wherever they are. We will not spare any effort to reach them,” he added.

8:36 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

5 people injured in Mykolaiv region shelling, according to top regional official

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Five people were injured in Ukraine's Mykolaiv region as a result of attacks from Russian forces in the past 24 hours, regional council head Hanna Zamazeeva said in a Telegram post on Tuesday.

All the victims were taken to hospitals and are receiving necessary assistance, Zamazeeva said.  

According to Zamazeeva, there are currently 145 people in total in local hospitals due to the attacks in the region.


9:03 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Russia and Ukraine are both reporting fighting around Azovstal plant in Mariupol

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Tim Lister in Lviv and Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

A view of heavily damaged Asovstal steel plant following airstrikes in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout image from a video released on May 3.
A view of heavily damaged Asovstal steel plant following airstrikes in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout image from a video released on May 3. (Azov Regiment/Reuters)

Video from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol shows thick columns of smoke rising from the area of the Azovstal steel plant amid the sound of heavy explosions. 

Russian forces are launching fresh attacks on the ruined complex, according to official accounts from both sides. 

All night long the plant was hit by artillery, naval artillery and aircraft. Two civilian women in one of the bunkers were killed as a result of a massive air strike," Denys Shlega, a commander in the National Guard, told Ukrainian television from Azovstal.

The Azov regiment posted images of the bodies of two women inside the complex.  

"Since the morning, the enemy has been trying to assault the Azovstal plant with significant forces using armored vehicles. Our soldiers bravely repel all attacks," Shlega said.

Sviatoslav Palamar, an Azov Regiment commander also inside the complex, told CNN on Tuesday that Azovstal "is now being assaulted."

The field hospital had been badly damaged and "the doctors who perform operations are in very difficult conditions and do everything possible and impossible. Currently, there are about 500 wounded at the plant," Shlega added.

About 200 civilians are still at the plant, including about 20 children, Shlega said.

Russian state media RIA Novosti reported Tuesday that Ukrainian fighters “took advantage of the ceasefire at Azovstal and assumed firing positions.” The outlet cited the Russian defense ministry spokesperson Vadim Astafiev. RIA Novosti reported that Russian troops continue to the attack those firing positions.

“They have left the bunkers and assumed defensive positions on the territory of the plant. Currently, the DPR troops and the Russian armed forces are starting to destroy those positions with artillery and aviation," Astafiev said. 

On Sunday, about 100 civilians were able to leave the plant in an evacuation organized by the United Nations and International Red Cross, but there have been no evacuations since then.

8:59 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

UK prime minister unveils new military aid to Ukraine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky claps during a session of a parliament while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses Ukrainian lawmakers in Kyiv, Ukraine, via videolink, on May 3.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky claps during a session of a parliament while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses Ukrainian lawmakers in Kyiv, Ukraine, via videolink, on May 3. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced 300 million euros ($376 million) in new military aid to Ukraine, telling the Ukrainian parliament that the country "will win" against Russia.

According to a transcript provided by Johnson's office, he said: 

"We in the UK will do whatever we can to hold [Russia] to account for these war crimes, and in this moment of uncertainty, of continuing fear and doubt, I have one message for you today: Ukraine will win. Ukraine will be free."

The military aid includes "radars to pinpoint the artillery bombarding your cities, heavy lift drones to supply your forces, and thousands of night vision devices."

"We will carry on supplying Ukraine, alongside your other friends, with weapons, funding and humanitarian aid, until we have achieved our long-term goal, which must be so to fortify Ukraine that no-one will ever dare to attack you again," Johnson added.

8:08 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Putin signs decree on retaliatory sanctions against West

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree announcing retaliatory economic measures in response to the “unfriendly actions” of foreign states and international organizations on Tuesday, according to the document published on the official government’s website.

Putin’s decree prohibits making transactions and fulfilling obligations to foreign individuals and legal entities that have fallen under the sanctions, such as trading and export products and resources, without specifying which individuals or entities may be affected by the measures.

Russian state authorities, organizations and individuals are prohibited "to make transactions (including conclude foreign trade contracts) with legal entities, individuals and organizations under their control, in respect of which special economic measures are applied; to perform before persons, under sanctions, obligations under completed transactions (including concluded foreign trade contracts), if such obligations are not fulfilled or not fully fulfilled," the document said.

According to the decree, these are the necessary measures to protect Russia’s national interests "in connection with the unfriendly actions of the United States of America and foreign states and international organizations that have joined them, which contradict international law and are aimed at illegally restricting or depriving the Russian Federation, citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian legal entities of the right to property."

The decree said it is in effect until the economic measures are canceled.

8:04 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

At least 9 people killed by shelling and air strikes across Donetsk, regional officials say

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

The regional military administration in Donetsk said nine people have been killed by artillery barrages and air strikes carried out by Russian forces.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration, said Russian planes had bombed the town of Avdiivka Tuesday morning and that a residential area in the central part of the city was under attack. He said the same area had come under rocket fire on Monday night.

"At least 3 people have been killed and 2 wounded and 8 houses damaged," he said.

Shelling of the town of Vuhledar killed three people, and three more civilians were killed in the shelling of Lyman, a town that has been severely damaged in the last few days, according to video geolocated by CNN.