May 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Jack Guy, George Ramsay, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Aditi Sangal and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0554 GMT (1354 HKT) May 6, 2022
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6:21 a.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Brazil's ex-president says Zelensky is as much to blame as Putin for war in Ukraine

From CNN's Jack Guy

Former president Lula da Silva attends a press conference after meeting with the Rede Sustentabilidade party in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 28.
Former president Lula da Silva attends a press conference after meeting with the Rede Sustentabilidade party in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 28. (Mateus Bonomi/AGIF/Reuters)

Two-time former Brazilian President Lula Inacio da Silva has told TIME magazine that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin share the blame for the war in Ukraine.

"And now, sometimes I sit and watch the President of Ukraine speaking on television, being applauded, getting a standing ovation by all the [European] parliamentarians," said Da Silva. "This guy is as responsible as Putin for the war. Because in the war, there’s not just one person guilty."

Speaking to TIME in an interview to mark the May 7 launch of his pre-candidacy for a third presidential term, Da Silva said Putin shouldn't have invaded Ukraine, but blame also lies with the United States, NATO and the European Union.

"What was the reason for the Ukraine invasion? NATO? Then the US and Europe should have said: “Ukraine won’t join NATO.” That would have solved the problem," he said.

"The other issue was Ukraine joining the EU. The Europeans could have said: 'No, now is not the moment for Ukraine to join the EU, we’ll wait.' They didn’t have to encourage the confrontation."

Da Silva went on to call Zelensky's behavior "a bit weird," citing the Ukrainian president's frequent television appearances.

"It seems like he's part of the spectacle," he said. "He is in the UK parliament, the German parliament, the French parliament, the Italian parliament, as if he were waging a political campaign. He should be at the negotiating table."

5:56 a.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Kramatorsk reels from first Russian airstrike in a month

From CNN's Mick Krever and Olha Konovalova in Kramatorsk

The aftermath of Russian strikes on a residential area in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on May 5.
The aftermath of Russian strikes on a residential area in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on May 5. (Mick Krever/CNN)

Residents of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region are sifting through the rubble of their homes after Russian strikes hit the city center for the first time in a month.

At least six strikes devastated a residential area and a building just down the street from the administrative center.

At least 25 people were wounded and six were taken to hospital after the strikes in the early hours of Thursday morning, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of Donetsk regional military administration.

In the courtyard of a five-story residential complex, a large munition hit a water and sewage facility, leaving a three-meter-deep crater.

The resulting shockwave stripped trees of their branches and laid ruin to the surrounding buildings, pulling windows from their frames and ripping through apartments from front to back.

One resident, Lyudmyla, told CNN’s Sam Kiley:

I just got lucky. I went to the bathroom, I heard a bang, I sat down on the bed, and it hit me. And all the furniture fell down. It’s a good thing we’re still alive.”

Some context: The last time a Russian strike hit the Kramatorsk city center on April 8, at least 50 people were killed and nearly 300 wounded when a missile hit the city’s main railway station.

The Russian military is trying to advance from the north on the main population in Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

5:05 a.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Ukraine's national railway hasn't buckled in the face of intense Russian attacks

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová, Petro Zadorozhnyy and Lauren Said-Moorhouse,

Workers inspect the electric substation that was hit by a Russian missile strike in Lviv, Ukraine on May 4.
Workers inspect the electric substation that was hit by a Russian missile strike in Lviv, Ukraine on May 4. (Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The smell of burnt wire and rubber still lingered in the air around the railway power station on the outskirts of Lviv Wednesday morning, hours after the blaze was extinguished. A group of investigators was collecting debris from the Russian rockets that struck this place the evening before. Now it serves as evidence of Russia's attempts to systematically destroy key infrastructure.

The Lviv power station was among six railway facilities in central and western Ukraine targeted by Russian forces on Tuesday evening, according to the chairman of Ukrainian Railways Olexander Kamyshin.

The coordinated strikes briefly knocked out power in parts of the region and caused long delays to more than 40 trains.

"There were also disruptions on our pumping stations, which are supplying the city with water," Lviv Deputy Mayor Serhiy Kiral told CNN. He said contingency plans were executed to ensure the water supply was not impacted by the strikes.

Tuesday's attack marks the latest in a series of recent attacks on the country's infrastructure, with the railway network now one of Russia's key targets.

Read the full story here:

7:25 a.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Russian forces focusing on destroying Ukrainian units at Azovstal, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Radina Gigova

An aerial view of rising smoke after a possible shelling of the Azovstal complex, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image from a handout video from social media on May 5.
An aerial view of rising smoke after a possible shelling of the Azovstal complex, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image from a handout video from social media on May 5. (Ministry of Internal Affairs Donetsk People's Republic/Reuters)

The Ukrainian armed forces have said Russian soldiers are concentrating on wiping out Ukrainian units at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

"The Russian occupiers are focusing their efforts on blocking and trying to destroy our units in the Azovstal area. The enemy resumed the offensive with the support of aircraft in order to take control of the plant," the military said in its latest update.

Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, said intense attacks and "non-stop" shelling continued on the steel plant overnight into Thursday.

What the Russians say: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports Thursday that the Russian army had broken into the territory of the steel plant as “fake news,” saying Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to avoid storming of the plant was still in place.

“The Ukrainian side, especially those who are hiding there on the territory of the plant, is well known for producing a huge amount of lies and fakes on an ongoing basis,” Peskov said on a conference call, commenting on reports that Russian troops had broken into Azovstal, where hundreds of ​​Ukrainian fighters and civilians have been trapped for weeks.

Peskov added that Putin had given an order to refrain from storming the plant, adding “there were no other orders from the Commander-in-Chief [President Putin].”

Peskov confirmed that Russian forces' blocking of the plant continues, but also said evacuation corridors are operating today.

CNN has seen no independent evidence that the corridors announced Wednesday by the Russian defense ministry are operating. 

3:02 a.m. ET, May 5, 2022

"Non-stop" shelling of Azovstal plant overnight, Mariupol official says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A tank of the Donetsk People's Republic militia on the streets of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, on May 4.
A tank of the Donetsk People's Republic militia on the streets of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, on May 4. (Alexei Alexandrov/AP)

Intense attacks continued on the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol overnight into Thursday, an official said.

As of now, if there is hell in the world, it is in Azovstal," said Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor on Thursday morning.

"There is non-stop shelling and assault, even at night with the adjustment of fire from drones. In some areas, hostilities are already beyond the fence of the plant," he said.

Andriushchenko added that residential areas close to the plant "had to evacuate urgently on their own without warning."

"The last 11 square kilometers (four square miles) of freedom in Mariupol have been turned into hell", he said.

Fighters inside the plant said Wednesday that Russian forces had breached its perimeter.

3:28 a.m. ET, May 5, 2022

"No success" for Russians in trying to break through front lines, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

(Donetsk Military Administration)
(Donetsk Military Administration)

The Ukrainian armed forces say the Russians have had "no success" with efforts to break through front lines in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions over the past 24 hours.

In its operational update for Thursday, the General Staff said: "Lyman, Severodonetsk and Popasna areas. The enemy units are trying to conduct offensive operations; no success."

Attacks repelled: All three cities are on the frontlines of a multi-pronged Russian offensive to seize the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The General Staff said a total of 11 attacks had been repulsed. 

Some Russian soldiers had refused to take part in further hostilities, according to the General Staff.

"A number of servicemen of the 38th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 35th All-Military Army of the Eastern Military District, after being taken to the recovery area, refused to continue participating in hostilities in Ukraine due to significant personnel losses," it said.

CNN is unable to verify such a claim and the General Staff provided no further details.

Injuries from missile strikes: Russian actions appear to have been largely missile and artillery fire in the past 24 hours. Local authorities in Kramatorsk, a city in Donetsk region, said that six people had been injured and needed hospital treatment in a missile attack overnight.

At least three buildings, a school and a kindergarten were severely damaged.

On the southern front: The regional military administration in Zaporizhzhia said "the military situation has not changed significantly. Fighting is taking place around Huliaipole and along the entire line of contact. The Russians have up to 13 battalion tactical groups in the area."

Huliaipole has seen shelling for at least two weeks, as has Polohy, where one woman died from shrapnel wounds, according to authorities 

Further south: The Ukrainians claim to have won back settlements along the border of the Mykolayiv and Kherson regions. 

2:05 a.m. ET, May 5, 2022

What we know about the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol

A view shows a damaged facility of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, on May 3.
A view shows a damaged facility of Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, on May 3. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Heavy battles between Russian forces and the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol are unfolding at the Azovstal steel plant, officials have said.

Despite efforts to evacuate civilians trapped in the sprawling complex, hundreds remain, including about 30 children, the city's mayor said.

Here's what we know about the plant:

  • The plant, located in the south of the port city of Mariupol, is the scene of a desperate last stand against Russia’s invading forces.
  • Until recently Azovstal was a major player on the global stage, producing 4 million tons of steel annually and exporting the majority, according to its owner Metinvest Holding, Ukraine’s biggest steelmaker.
  • From London’s Shard skyscraper to Hudson Yards in Manhattan to Genoa’s San Giorgio Bridge (which replaced the collapsed Morandi Bridge), steel produced at Azovstal is used in some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks.
  • At least 150 employees have been killed and thousands remain unaccounted for, said Yuriy Ryzhenkov, CEO of Metinvest Holding, which owns the plant.
  • Before the war, the plant employed 11,000 people, he said, and the company’s staff includes family dynasties who have made steel for as long as they can remember.

What we know about the situation:

  • The commander of the Azov Regiment soldiers inside the plant, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko, says there are "heavy, bloody battles" inside the complex after Russian forces breached its perimeter. 
  • Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Wednesday "heavy artillery and tanks are firing all over the fortress, aviation is working, ships have approached and are also firing on the fortress."
  • Boichenko said there were 30 children trapped at the plant still waiting to be rescued.
  • Last weekend, more than 100 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant and arrived safely in Zaporizhzhia.
  • Fighters inside the besieged plant are “sharing water and food” with civilians – but time is running out, said deputy commander Svyatoslav Palamar.
  • “If (worse) comes to worst and we run out of food, we’ll be catching birds and we’ll be doing everything just to stand firm,” he told CNN.
  • On Wednesday, the Ukrainian foreign minister said the plant still "holds" despite relentless Russian attacks. 
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense says it expects to open evacuation corridors for civilians out of the Azovstal steel plant near Mariupol starting Thursday. 

Read more about the steel plant here.

11:56 p.m. ET, May 4, 2022

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

A Ukrainian commander at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol said there are "bloody battles" unfolding with Russian forces inside the complex after they breached the perimeter, even as Russia said it would open evacuation corridors from the plant on Thursday.

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

Mariupol evacuations: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol and surrounding areas to Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday. He also called for a ceasefire to evacuate those who remain in Mariupol, especially women and children who remain trapped in the Azovstal steel plant.

"Bloody battles" at Azovstal: The commander of the Azov Regiment inside the Azovstal plant, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko, said there are "heavy, bloody battles" unfolding inside the complex after Russian forces broke in. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Wednesday that new battles have broken out at the plant, where hundreds of civilians — including 30 children — are still trapped inside along with the last Ukrainian defenders in the city.

Russia says it will open evacuation corridors: The Russian Ministry of Defense said it expects to open evacuation corridors for civilians out of the Azovstal steel plant near Mariupol starting on Thursday. The evacuations are set to take place from May 5 to May 7 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Moscow time, the ministry said.

Russia targeting foreign arms: Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that during the most recent round of airstrikes on Ukraine, Russian forces were “attempting to hit what we assess to be critical infrastructure targets out towards the West” in Ukraine including “electrical power, transportation hubs." Despite those strikes, the US is still able to “flow” military assistance into the region, including “weapons systems” and other materials, Kirby said.

Attacks on supply lines: Russian attacks on Ukraine’s supply lines are intensifying and investigators are collecting evidence of Russia’s attempts to systematically destroy key infrastructure. The Lviv power station was among six railway facilities in central and western Ukraine targeted by Russian forces on Tuesday — the railway network now one of Russia’s key targets.

11:56 p.m. ET, May 4, 2022

Zelensky: 344 people evacuated from Mariupol area on Wednesday

From CNN's Mitchell McCluskey

Smoke rises from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on May 4.
Smoke rises from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on May 4. (Alexei Alexandrov/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol and surrounding areas to Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday, during his nightly address.

“I am grateful to all those who make the evacuation operation successful,” Zelensky said.  

Zelensky also called for a ceasefire to evacuate those who remain in Mariupol. 

“We are negotiating and hope to continue rescuing people from Azovstal, from Mariupol. There are still civilians, women, children. We need a continued ceasefire in order to rescue them,” he said