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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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

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

Zelensky discussed "scandalous" remarks made by the Russian foreign minister with Israeli prime minister

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett about "scandalous" remarks made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserting that Hitler had Jewish blood. 

In his nightly address Wednesday, Zelensky said he spoke to Bennett to congratulate him on Israel Independence Day and update him on the situation in the southern city of Mariupol and eastern Ukraine. 

"We also discussed the scandalous and absolutely inadmissible statements by the Russian Foreign Minister who insulted the whole world," the Ukrainian President said. 

In an interview with Italian television Sunday, Lavrov repeated Russia's claim that its invasion of Ukraine is part of efforts to "de-Nazifiy" the country. 

He dismissed the fact that Zelensky is Jewish, saying: "He [Zelensky] puts forward an argument: what kind of Nazism can they have if he is a Jew. I may be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. It means absolutely nothing. The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews."

Lavrov's remarks sparked fury amongst the Israeli government, who swiftly summoned the Russian Ambassador to Israel.

CNN's Hadas Gold contributed to this report.

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

Ukrainian commander at Azovstal plant says "enemy" broke into the plant complex during battles

From CNN's Julia Presniakova and Roman Tymotsko

The commander of the Azov Regiment soldiers inside the Azovstal plant, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko, says there are heavy battles inside the complex after Russian forces breached its perimeter. 

“For two days now, the enemy has broken into the territory of the plant. There are heavy bloody battles," he said.

Prokopenko continued, "I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the enemy's onslaught. I thank the whole world for the tremendous support of the Mariupol garrison. The situation is extremely difficult, but we continue to carry out the order to keep the defense."