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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8:48 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Russia accuses Israel of supporting “neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv,” repeating false claim about Ukraine's government

From CNN’s Richard Allen Greene in Jerusalem

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Israel, on April 24.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Israel, on April 24. (Debbie Hill/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia accused Israel of supporting “the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv” Tuesday, raising the stakes in a high-level diplomatic dispute between Moscow and the Jewish state over Ukraine, anti-Semitism and Adolf Hitler.

The accusation potentially increases pressure on Israel.

Israel voted in the United Nations to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has accused Russia of war crimes.

But the Jewish state has not fully joined Western sanctions on Moscow or supplied Ukraine with weapons, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tried to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.

The Russian salvo came in a thousand-word broadside from the Foreign Ministry which used examples of forced Jewish collaboration with the Nazis and contemporary instances of anti-Semitism in Ukraine to defend Vladimir Putin’s tendentious claim to have invaded Ukraine in order to “de-Nazify” the country.

Israeli officials also responded with fury Monday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserting that Hitler had “Jewish blood.”

Lavrov was attempting to deflect a question about why Russia asserted that Ukraine was in the grip of neo-Nazis when its President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish.

Foreign Minister Lapid responded Monday that Lavrov’s “remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” and Prime Minister Bennett called Lavrov’s statement “lies.”

7:53 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Scores of people evacuated from Lyman as Russia continues attack

From CNN’s Mick Krever and Olha Konovalova in Raihorodok, Ukraine

People sit in a bulletproof bus as they evacuate from the eastern Ukraine city of Lyman, Ukraine, on May 2.
People sit in a bulletproof bus as they evacuate from the eastern Ukraine city of Lyman, Ukraine, on May 2. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian volunteers and police evacuated scores of people on Tuesday from Lyman, in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, as the Russian military bombarded the town with artillery fire.

A CNN team saw an armored coach and several other vehicles drive back and forth twice to Lyman, carrying men, women, and children of all ages.

“I'm not going back there. I'm afraid,” said 59-year-old Igor, who preferred to give only his first name out of privacy concerns.

“I took what I could with me. I left everything there. Even the house was left open.”

He said that he had been injured on Monday after a piece of shrapnel hit his neck.

My whole life flashed before my eyes in a second,” he told CNN. “Good thing the shard was red-hot, it cauterized the wound.”

From a few kilometers down the road, the CNN team could hear regular artillery exchanges from the Ukrainian and Russian militaries.

Some background: Russian forces are advancing on from the east on Lyman, a town on the main road to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

It has been shelled frequently in the last few days as Russian troops step up their offensive to seize the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Ukrainian military says the Russians have injected fresh troops and artillery into the region, which has also suffered air and drone attacks.

7:26 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Fiji court rules US can seize superyacht believed to be owned by Russian oligarch

From CNN's Lizzy Yee in Hong Kong 

The super yacht Amadea is docked at the Queens Wharf in Lautoka, Fiji, on April 15.
The super yacht Amadea is docked at the Queens Wharf in Lautoka, Fiji, on April 15. (Leon Lord/Fiji Sun/AP)

Fiji's High Court has granted permission allowing the US to seize a superyacht that it claims belongs to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.

The vessel, called the Amadea, has been restrained from leaving Fijian waters since mid-April after Fiji's Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) filed for its restraint and applied to register the US warrant. 

Justice Deepthi Amaratunga granted the US' order to seize the superyacht, a statement released on Tuesday said. 

The yacht is registered to Millemarin Investments Ltd, but the US claims it is "beneficially" owned by Kerimov, according to a DPP spokesperson, who added that the issue of ownership will likely be decided in a US court. 

CNN has reached out to Millemarin for comment, but has not yet heard back. 

According to Australian public broadcaster ABC, defense lawyer Feizal Haniff, acting for Millemarin, asked the court for a stay following the ruling.

"There is some indication that American authorities are wanting to take this boat away," Haniff told journalists outside court, ABC reported. "(The judge) said we have a right to appeal, and obviously he said that we will ensure that the boat is in Fiji while the stay application is filed."

Kerimov, a member of the Russian Federation Council, has been sanctioned by the US Treasury since 2018 in response to Russia's activity in Crimea and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He has also been sanctioned by the UK and European Union in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Some background: The news comes nearly a week after US President Joe Biden outlined a proposal that would further pressure Russian oligarchs over the war in Ukraine, including using money from their seized assets to fund Ukraine's defense.

He said the proposal would strengthen US law enforcement capabilities to seize property linked to Russia's kleptocracy.

"It's going to create new expedited procedures for forfeiture and seizure of these properties and it's going to ensure that when the oligarchs' assets are sold off, funds can be used directly to remedy the harm Russia caused and help rebuild Ukraine," Biden said.

The package — developed through an interagency process including the Treasury Department, Justice Department, State Department and Commerce Department — will "establish new authorities for the forfeiture of property linked to Russian kleptocracy, allow the government to use the proceeds to support Ukraine and further strengthen related law enforcement tools," the White House said in a fact sheet.

CNN's Kate Sullivan, Arlette Saenz, Betsy Klein and Kevin Liptak contributed reporting to this post.

7:23 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

"The Russians didn't let them go": As Ukrainians flee to Zaporizhzhia, they leave loved ones behind

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Natalie Gallon 

A general view shows a registration and processing area for internally displaced people arriving from Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 2.
A general view shows a registration and processing area for internally displaced people arriving from Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on May 2. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

There were high expectations that evacuees from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol would finally arrive at a processing center in Zaporizhzhia, central Ukraine, on Monday, after a long and tortuous journey. 

Since then, however, the center based in a parking lot seems to contain more members of the media than families who have managed to flee.

The evacuees from Azovstal are now expected to arrive en masse later today.

For now, neatly organized rows of red-and-white plastic tape and wooden crates dictate where vehicles should enter to be registered and processed, while medical staff are on standby in a large white tent to coordinate the food, clothes and toys awaiting evacuees.

Families from villages south of Zaporizhzhia, near Mariupol and other regions in Ukraine have slowly trickled into the center. Some were weary from days of trying to reach Ukrainian-held territory. Others became teary eyed when seeing their loved ones.

Natasha told CNN she got lucky. Her family evacuated from Dniprorudne -- a small city north of Melitopol -- at around 6 a.m. on Monday. “There is a huge convoy of about 50 vehicles but they got stuck in Vasilivka. The Russians didn’t let them go,” she said.

The Russians said they have no orders to let people through, according to another evacuee Julia. Julia left on Monday morning and made it to Zaporizhzhia, although her boyfriend is still on the road. He left on Saturday.

“He’ll probably go back if the Russians don’t let them pass,” she said. "But for now, locals gave him a place to stay."

Some background: The standoff between Russian and Ukrainian forces at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has become a symbol of Ukraine's unwavering resistance in the face of an enemy that far outnumbers them.

On Sunday, more than 100 civilians were evacuated from the sprawling industrial complex, 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.

Those evacuated Sunday emerged from the plant to rubble-strewn streets and unrecognizable neighborhoods in bombed-out Mariupol.

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

A further 100 people are thought to remain at the plant, including 20 children, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment, Svyatoslav Palamar, told Reuters on Monday.

CNN's Bernadette Tuazon, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Isa Soares, Madalena Araujo and Oleksandra Ochman contributed reporting to this post.

5:59 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Growing rift as top players slam Wimbledon decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes

From CNN's Issy Ronald

Former Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky talks with journalists at Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 15.
Former Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky talks with journalists at Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 15. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

There is a growing split between some of the world's leading tennis players over Wimbledon's decision to ban competitors from Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Explaining its stance, Wimbledon said it didn't want to "benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime."

However, Rafael NadalAndy Murray and Novak Djokovic, who have won 10 Wimbledon titles between them, have joined the likes of the ATP and WTA in their opposition to the ban.

Ukrainian players have largely supported the ban, and Sergiy Stakhovsky -- who retired earlier this year and has since joined the Ukrainian army to defend his homeland -- condemned those pushing back.

Please tell me how it is fair that Ukrainian players cannot return home? How it is fair that Ukrainian kids cannot play tennis? How is it fair that Ukrainians are dying?" he said.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club's (AETLC) decision marks the first time that Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from an elite tennis event following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Read more here:

5:40 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Nearly 1.1 million Ukrainians have been evacuated to Russian territory, says defense ministry

From CNN's Tim Lister and Josh Pennington 

Refugees from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic stay at temporary accommodation on in Novocherkassk, 40 km. north from Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on February 25.
Refugees from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic stay at temporary accommodation on in Novocherkassk, 40 km. north from Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on February 25. (Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

Almost 1.1 million people have been evacuated from Ukraine to Russian territory since the invasion began on February 24, Russian officials said on Tuesday.

Of that figure, almost 200,000 are children, according to Russia's defense ministry.

Russian authorities said thousands of people have been evacuated in the past 24 hours from "danger areas."

"In the past 24 hours, 11,550 people, including 1,847 children, have been evacuated from danger areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, Ukraine to Russian territory without the involvement of Ukrainian authorities," said Russian Colonel-General, Mikhail Mizintsev.

There is no way to verify the ministry's data on evacuations. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that thousands of citizens are being deported to Russia forcibly.

Some background: CNN investigation in April revealed that Russian forces and allied separatist soldiers were taking Mariupol residents to a so-called “filtration center” set up in Bezimenne, where they were registered before being sent on to Russia -- many against their will. Ukrainian government and local Mariupol officials say that tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been forcibly deported to the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Russia since the war began.

CNN spoke with two people who were brought to Bezimenne before being sent to Russia. They described a massive military tent, where Russian and DPR soldiers were processing hundreds of people -- they were fingerprinted, photographed, their phones searched, interrogated, passports reviewed and registered into databases.

Read the full CNN investigation here:

4:27 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Azovstal evacuees are moving but civilians are still stranded, says mayor of Mariupol

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko has said that an evacuation convoy has begun moving from the coastal town of Berdiansk, some 50 miles (85 kilometers) west of the besieged city, towards territory held by Ukraine.

The convoy includes many of the first batch of people to have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant.

"Now the column is moving in the direction of Zaporizhzhia. This evacuation is still ongoing, so we provide very limited information," Boichenko said on Ukrainian television.

"We expect that it will work, that our residents, those who hid for more than two months on Azovstal, will get to the territory controlled by Ukraine."

Boichenko was less optimistic about the people still trapped in Azovstal.

"Civilians remain at Azovstal. Unfortunately, destruction are being added there. Both enemy artillery and aircraft hit these facilities yesterday," Boichenko added.

"They are also waiting to be evacuated. More than 200 locals are still hiding in the area. And also there our [military] guys continue to defend Mariupol, our state."

Boichenko said it remained very difficult for thousands of people in Mariupol to leave Russian controlled territory. He said 2,000 residents remain stranded in the Berdiansk area.

9:01 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Pope Francis says Hungary's Viktor Orban told him Putin plans to end war on May 9

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London and Nicola Ruotolo in Rome

Pope Francis receives in audience H.E. Mr. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, at the Vatican, Italy, on April 21.
Pope Francis receives in audience H.E. Mr. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, at the Vatican, Italy, on April 21. (Vatican Media/Catholic Press Photo/Reuters)

Pope Francis said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told him when they met in late April that Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to end the invasion of Ukraine on May 9 — Russia's Victory Day. 

The Pope made the comments to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview published Tuesday.

Orban, when I met him, he told me that the Russians have a plan, that everything will be over on May 9th," Pope Francis said.

"This would also explain the speed of the escalation of these days. Because now it's not just the Donbas, it's Crimea, it's Odesa, it's taking away the Black Sea port from Ukraine, it's everything.

"There is not enough will for peace," the Pope said. "I am pessimistic, but we must make every possible gesture to stop the war." 

The Pope expressed concern that Putin may continue the invasion of Ukraine and said his guess is that "the barking of NATO at Russia's door" may have prompted Putin to start the conflict. "An anger that I don't know if it was provoked," the Pope wondered, "but perhaps facilitated, yes."

He also repeated earlier statements that he is ready to travel to Moscow to meet with Putin and compared the war in Ukraine to the genocide in Rwanda. 

"We have not yet received an answer and we are still insisting, even if I fear that Putin cannot and does not want to have this meeting right now. But so much brutality, how can you not stop it? Twenty-five years ago we experienced the same thing with Rwanda," Pope Francis said. 

The Pope said he will not travel to Kyiv for now, instead sending a representative.

"First I have to go to Moscow, first I have to meet Putin. But I'm a priest too, what can I do? I'll do whatever I can. If Putin opened the door," he said.

3:26 a.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Ukrainian military says 12 Russian attacks repulsed across eastern regions 

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian servicemen adjust a drone at their position near the city of Izium, Ukraine, on May 2.
Ukrainian servicemen adjust a drone at their position near the city of Izium, Ukraine, on May 2. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The Ukrainian armed forces say they have repulsed 12 Russian attacks over the past day in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

They also claim to have brought down seven attack drones.

In its daily operational update, the General Staff said there are signs the Russians are taking equipment out of storage to replenish units. 

"According to available information, 17 tanks and 60 BMP-1s were taken out of storage in the city of Bohuchar of Voronezh region, between April 27 and May 2, 2022. They were sent to the Ukrainian territories temporarily occupied by Russian troops," it said.

CNN is unable to verify the claim.

On the battlefield: The General Staff said Russian forces had continued attacks from the Izium direction and efforts to take full control of the towns of Rubizhne and Popasna further east.

The General Staff also suggested that resistance is growing in occupied areas.

"The resistance movement is developing in the cities and villages temporarily occupied by the aggressor," it said.

In Luhansk: Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration, said shelling had damaged or destroyed homes in several towns that have been under weeks of bombardment, including Severodonetsk, Hirske and Orikhove. He did not give any casualty figures.

In Donetsk: Three people were reported killed in shelling of the town of Vuhleda. 

On the southern front: Authorities in the region of Zaporizhzhia say fighting continues, especially around the town of Hulyaipole. Russian units have been trying to break through in that area, which would bring them closer to the regional capital.