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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5:11 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Former US President George W. Bush calls Zelensky the "Winston Churchill of our time"

Former US President George W. Bush held a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Thursday morning and posted an image from the video call on Instagram.

Bush called Zelensky the “Winston Churchill of our time” in then post and “thanked the President for his leadership, his example, and his commitment to liberty.”

View the full Instagram post from Bush here: 

5:14 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Medic in Azovstal plant appeals to Turkish leader as people "die in agony"

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova

The Azovstal steel plant is seen pictured in this drone image in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5.
The Azovstal steel plant is seen pictured in this drone image in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5. (Pavel Klimov/Reuters)

An unnamed man who describes himself as a medic has made an appeal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to help rescue those still trapped at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

In a short video message released late Thursday, the man addresses Erdogan directly: "We are constantly being shelled from the air, sea and land. I beg you to carry out the procedure for the withdrawal of people, including the military, from the territory of Azovstal, to stop this nightmare." 

The man says he is a Crimean Tatar and a Muslim. 

"I received a medical education before the invasion, and now I am providing medical assistance to Azovstal. Before the war, I never saw death, I worked on an ambulance, I always helped people as much as I could. But it hurts to watch people die in the arms, just from a lack of antibiotics," he said.

He said the injured are dying in pain.

"People are dying: some from bullets, some from hunger. They die in agony, from lack of medicines and from terrible conditions. We don't have time and I don't know if we have tomorrow," he said.

Reaching out to Erdoğan, he said: "263 kilometres from you, across the sea, they kill people who are just protecting their land, women and children. We didn't attack anyone."

He added, "Turkey and Ukraine have always maintained close relations. You and your country have a great weight in the politics of our region. We don't know who to write and who to contact. Therefore, I turn to you."

4:08 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

From medals to road signs, Russians try to put their stamp on Mariupol

From Tim Lister, Olga Voitovych and Julia Presniakova

Medals, road-signs and statues — these are some of the early symbols of Russia's seizure of parts of southern Ukraine, and especially Mariupol.

The leader of self-styled Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and a senior official in Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party awarded medals "For the Liberation of Mariupol" this week.

"The liberation of this city is a joint victory for the armies of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Russian Federation," Pushilin posted on his Telegram channel.

The DPR has been hard at work changing road-signs from Ukrainian into Russian, especially those at the entrance to Mariupol. The Ministry of Transport of the DPR promised Thursday that work on the replacement of road signs in the liberated territories will continue. 

A strange statue has also gone up in Mariupol, depicting an elderly woman grasping the Soviet flag.

The Russians have "opened a monument made of shit and sticks to an old lady with a flag on Warriors Liberators Square, which they stubbornly call the Leninist Komsomol," said Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the elected mayor of Mariupol.

He also spoke bitterly about the rising number of Russian officials visiting Mariupol, including the Sergey Kiriyenko, a senior official at the Kremlin, describing them as "curators of Mariupol's integration into Russia." 

On the road to Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol — a road most of those trying to escape Mariupol must take — is the town of Tokmak, also under Russian occupation.

The entrance sign to the town has been repainted in the Russian tricolor.

Elsewhere in the south of Ukraine, the ruble is gradually being introduced.

According to a community group on Facebook, government employees in the town of Yakymivka have been told that if they want to be paid in Ukrainian hryvnia "the occupiers will take two-thirds of the salary."

3:58 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Jill Biden's trip to Romania and Slovakia includes Mother's Day with Ukrainian refugees

From CNN's Kate Bennett

US First Lady Jill Biden departs Thursday evening on a trip to Romania and Slovakia, where she will spend time with several Ukrainian families displaced by the Russian invasion, according to a release from the East Wing.

Part of the first lady’s intense, four-day schedule of events and meetings and visits includes Mother’s Day activities in Kosice, Slovakia, where Biden will visit a refugee center and two separate schools.  

“Dr. Biden is inspired by the resilience and strength of the Ukrainian people and hopes to communicate that Americans are standing with them,” release stated. 

Biden will also meet with Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova. 

Prior to Slovakia, on Saturday, the first lady will hold a meeting in Bucharest, Romania, with that country’s first lady, Carmen Iohannis, who like Biden is an educator and who has also kept her job as an English teacher at a local college during her tenure. 

Biden’s first stop will be Friday at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base in Romania, where she will meet with US and NATO military leadership. She will also visit with troops stationed at the base and participate in a meal service before departing for Bucharest.

4:00 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

United Nations and Red Cross launch third operation to evacuate citizens from Mariupol, secretary general says

From CNN's Samantha Beech

The International Committee of the Red Cross team participates in an ongoing operation to facilitate the safe passage of civilians out of the Azovstal plant and Mariupol on May 4.
The International Committee of the Red Cross team participates in an ongoing operation to facilitate the safe passage of civilians out of the Azovstal plant and Mariupol on May 4. (ICRC/EyePress/Reuters)

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have launched a third operation to evacuate civilians from the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

Guterres said this is the third such operation to evacuate citizens from the area after two other operations. 

“So far, in total, nearly 500 civilians have found long-awaited relief after living under relentless shelling and scarce availability of water, food and sanitation,” Guterres told the UN Security Council.

“The evacuees have shared moving tales with UN staff — mothers, children and frail grandparents spoke of their trauma. Some were in urgent need of medical attention. I hope that the continued coordination with Moscow and Kyiv will lead to more humanitarian pauses to allow civilians safe passage from the fighting and aid to reach those in critical need," he said.

7:55 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Russian oligarch's $300 million yacht seized by Fijian authorities at US request

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and Lindsay Isaac

 A $300 million yacht belonging to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov was seized by Fijian authorities on Thursday at the request of the United States Department of Justice. 

“Fijian law enforcement executed a seizure warrant freezing the Motor Yacht Amadea (the Amadea), a 348-foot luxury vessel owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov,” a news release from the Department of Justice said.

The Fijian authorities acting with the FBI were following a seizure warrant issued by Washington “which found that the Amadea is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), money laundering and conspiracy,” according to the statement. 

"Kerimov and those acting on his behalf and for his benefit caused US dollar transactions to be routed through U.S. financial institutions for the support and maintenance of the Amadea.”

The seizure was orchestrated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force run out of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, focused on enforcing the “the sweeping sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.” 

Kerimov has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control who designated him as “part of a group of Russian oligarchs who profit from the Russian government through corruption and its malign activity around the globe, including the occupation of Crimea,” the Department of Justice added. 

In doing so, the Treasury also identified him as an official of the Government of the Russian Federation and a member of the Russian Federation Council which is the upper house of Russian parliament. He is the owner of Nafta Moscow, a Russian financial group. Kerimov and his family have an estimated net worth of $9.8 billion, according to the European Union.  

The UK has also sanctioned Kerimov for his decision to vote in favor of laws endorsing President Putin’s decision to recognize the breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.  

He was also placed on the EU’s list of sanctioned individuals for attending on Feb. 24 “a meeting of oligarchs at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin to discuss the impact of the course of action in the wake of Western sanctions.” The EU contended that Kerimov’s attendance at said meeting shows that he is “a member of the inner circle of oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine.” 

US Attorney General Merrick Garland stressed that the US court ruling “should make clear that there is no hiding place for the assets of individuals who violate US laws.” 

“This yacht seizure should tell every corrupt Russian oligarch that they cannot hide – not even in the remotest part of the world. We will use every means of enforcing the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine,” warned US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. 

3:07 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Russian forces have made "some small progress" in Donbas region of Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian forces have made “some small progress, particularly in the north part of the Donbas,” region of Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing on Thursday.

This small progress is not the progress that the US believes Russian forces “expected to make at this point,” in the region, Kirby added.

“In the Donbas region, we would still assess that Ukrainians are putting up a very stiff resistance. And that the Russians have not made the progress that we believe they expected to make at this point. That’s not to say they haven’t made any progress,” he said.

2:32 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

NATO could increase presence around Baltic Sea and Swedish borders during potential Swedish application

From CNN's Henrik Pettersson and Niamh Kennedy 

NATO could increase its presence around the Baltic Sea and Swedish borders if Sweden decides to apply for membership of the alliance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday. 

When asked during an interview with Swedish public broadcaster SVT how NATO would protect Sweden during the potential application process, Stoltenberg said:

"There are different ways to do it. But I am convinced that we will find solutions for the security needs Sweden will have in a transitional period from the time Sweden applies until it becomes a member."

Stoltenberg stressed that "from the moment" Sweden decides to apply and NATO says it wants Sweden to join, "there is a very strong commitment from NATO to be able to guarantee Sweden’s security."

"We have different ways of marking it, including through increased presence of NATO and NATO forces in the area around Sweden and the Baltic Sea," the secretary general continued. 

Finland and Sweden are both considering potential applications to the alliance following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told a press conference on April 29 that no decision on membership will made before May 13, when an analysis report from the Swedish parliament on membership is set to be delivered. 

Finland's membership decision also hinges on a government security report. A senior Western diplomat said Thursday that the Finnish Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to draft a response on the Finnish government’s security report as early as May 11. 

CNN's Lauren Kent, Nic Robertson, James Frater and Arnaud Siad contributed to this report.

3:00 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Second stage of the Azovstal evacuation has begun, Donetsk military governor says

From Chris Liakos and Tim Lister

Smoke rises from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 5.
Smoke rises from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 5. (AP Photo)

The second stage of the evacuation from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has begun, the military governor of the Donetsk region told CNN. But he retained a tone of caution about whether it will yield results.

“I can say that the second stage of the evacuation measures and the evacuation operation has begun but I don’t want to say anything in advance, I would rather inform the public when it’s completed, when the special operation has yielded results," said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk oblast military administration.

“The Russian federation does everything sometimes in a way that these agreements keep changing, so I would rather speak of results of the second stage in evacuation,” Kyrylenko said in explaining why he remained cautious.

The Donetsk military governor said that since last night heavy artillery bombarded the steel plant “with systemic strikes,” adding that “there was a breakthrough into the grounds of Azovstal.”

Around 200 civilians remain inside Azovstal according to information, Kyrylenko said.