May 6, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Brad Lendon, Nectar Gan, Jeevan Ravindran, George Ramsay, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT) May 7, 2022
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9:38 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

Nearly 25 million metric tons of grain unable to leave Ukraine, according to UN food agency official

From CNN's Amy Cassidy and Radina Gigova in London

The blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, along with infrastructure challenges, are preventing nearly 25 million tonnes of grain from being exported, a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official said Friday. 

"It's an almost a grotesque situation we see at the moment in Ukraine,” said Josef Schmidhuber, deputy director of FAO's markets and trade division, at a media briefing in Geneva. “There are nearly 25 million tonnes of grain that could be exported but that cannot leave the country simply because of the lack of infrastructure, the blockade of the ports.”

Ukraine is one of the world's largest grain-producing countries.

At the same time, in the months of July and August, the new crop will be coming in, Schmidhuber said, and "despite the war, harvest conditions don't look that dire." 

But, he continued, “that could really mean that there is not enough storage capacity going forward in Ukraine particularly if there is no ‘wheat corridor’ opening up for exports from Ukraine.” 

CNN previously reported that Russian forces are stealing thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers, as well as targeting food storage sites with artillery, according to multiple sources. Ukraine's defense ministry said Thursday an estimated 400,000 tons of grain had been stolen to date.

The theft of grain on such a huge scale — combined with the dislocation of war — could affect world markets. Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said: "If we do not harvest (the) next crop, the effect of hunger can be significant. And the main export route is ports which are currently blocked."

CNN's Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.

9:28 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

Ukrainian soldier describes surviving as a wounded prisoner and being subject to "a distortion of reality"


A Ukrainian marine who fought in Mariupol at a steel plant taken by Russian forces was taken prisoner after being injured.

Hlib Stryzhko was wounded on April 10 and regained consciousness inside an ambulance. He was brought to a hospital controlled by separatists.

"I was told by a Russian soldier, 'You'll have to forget Ukrainian now. You will only get help if you ask in Russian,'" he told CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.

He was kept alive so the Russians could exchange him for their own soldiers.

"There were two of us bedridden. So we had to be fed by nurses. So they would say, 'Because of you, my son got killed.' I tried to be understanding, but they were accusing us of things we never did. And we had Russian news read to us all the time, in the morning and evening. That was a lot of pressure on the mind, a distortion of reality," he said.

The prisoner exchange happened on April 22, and he is recovering from a crushed pelvis, broken jaw, concussion and vision impairment.

"My body was broken, but not my spirit," Stryzhko said.

He recalls the fierce fighting that took place in Mariupol.

"Very often when I close my eyes, I see that moment when the tank was firing at me and my side getting injured," he said.

Every time he heard a fellow soldier was dead, "it was personal," he said.

"There is a point where the brain accepts it. ... When this became normal, that was scary. We learned how to fall asleep with this accompaniment. Instead, it became scary to fall asleep in the silence," he said.

His two most vivid memories include the first time he had to use a tourniquet on a friend and watching Russian aircraft destroying whole hangars.

Watch the interview:

8:45 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

EU Commission chief is "confident" that new sanctions package will pass

From CNN's Clare Sebastian and Amy Cassidy in London

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen makes a statement in Brussels, Belgium, on April 27, following the decision by Russian energy giant Gazprom to halt gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen makes a statement in Brussels, Belgium, on April 27, following the decision by Russian energy giant Gazprom to halt gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday she is “confident” the bloc’s sixth package of sanctions against Russia will pass, as deliberations among member states continue into the third day.

"I am confident that we will get this package off the ground,” she said in a speech in Frankfurt, Germany. “If it takes one more day, then it takes one more day, but we are moving in the right direction.”

Mobilization of the package has hit some roadblocks this week, with some countries resisting the proposed embargo on Russian oil imports due to their energy dependency, sparking fears they would veto the move unless granted exemption.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, speaking on Hungarian radio Friday, compared the sanctions proposal to an “atomic bomb” and said he sent it to back to von der Leyen for amendments. His comments were carried in an online post from the Hungarian government’s communications office.  

Meanwhile, negotiations are “going in the right direction” for the Czech Republic, government spokesperson Václav Smolka told CNN on Friday. The country is seeking an exemption from the embargo as it needs two more years to wean itself off Russian oil, he said.

Von der Leyen referenced Germany, which at the beginning of the conflict was resistant to an oil embargo, she said, but has since cut down its imports from Russia to 12% from 35%.

“The countries that are now hesitating are not as far along,” she said. “We are sitting, as I speak, with these countries in Brussels, to work through very pragmatic things, like from where can alternative oil be brought into these countries.”

8:35 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

Amnesty International says investigation reveals "pattern of crimes committed by Russian forces" in Ukraine

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London 

The exhumation of civilian bodies from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 13.
The exhumation of civilian bodies from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 13. (Anatolii Siryk/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Russian forces "must face justice for a series of war crimes" committed in the region northwest of Kyiv, Amnesty International said Friday at a press briefing in the Ukrainian capital following an investigation it conducted in the country.

The investigation, based "on dozens of interviews and extensive review of material evidence," has documented "unlawful air strikes on Borodyanka, and extrajudicial executions in other towns and villages including Bucha, Andriivka, Zdvyzhivka and Vorzel."

An Amnesty International delegation spoke with survivors, families of victims and senior Ukrainian officials, the watchdog said. 

“The pattern of crimes committed by Russian forces that we have documented includes both unlawful attacks and willful killings of civilians,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement.

“We have met families whose loved ones were killed in horrific attacks, and whose lives have changed forever because of the Russian invasion. We support their demands for justice, and call on the Ukrainian authorities, the International Criminal Court and others to ensure evidence is preserved that could support future war crime prosecutions," she said. “It is vital that all those responsible, including up the chain of command, are brought to justice."

During 12 days of investigations, Amnesty researchers interviewed residents in Bucha, Borodianka, Novyi Korohod, Andriivka, Zdvyzhivka, Vorzel, Makariv and Dmytrivka, and "visited sites of numerous killings," Amnesty said.

In Borodianka, Amnesty International found that "at least 40 civilians were killed in disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks, which devastated an entire neighborhood and left thousands of people homeless."

In Bucha and several other towns and villages located northwest of Kyiv, Amnesty documented "22 cases of unlawful killings by Russian forces, most of which were apparent extrajudicial executions."

On March 1 and March 2, a series of Russian air strikes hit eight residential buildings in the town of Borodianka, which were home to more than 600 families, Amnesty said. 

"The strikes killed at least 40 residents and destroyed the buildings, as well as dozens of surrounding buildings and houses. Most of the victims were killed in the buildings’ basements, where they had sought shelter. Others died in their apartments," Amnesty said. 

Amnesty called for all those responsible for war crimes to be held criminally responsible for their actions. "Under the doctrine of command responsibility, hierarchal superiors – including commanders and civilian leaders, such as ministers and heads of state – who knew or had reason to know about war crimes committed by their forces, but did not attempt to stop them or punish those responsible, should also be held criminally responsible," Amnesty said.

8:14 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

Russians accused by Ukrainians of breaching ceasefire at Azovstal plant, killing 1

From Julia Presniakova 

Service members of pro-Russian troops fire from a tank during fighting near the Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5.
Service members of pro-Russian troops fire from a tank during fighting near the Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The Azov Regiment has claimed that during a ceasefire "on the territory of the Azovstal plant" in Mariupol, Russian forces fired an anti-tank weapon at a car that was trying to assist in the evacuation of civilians.

CNN is unable to verify that a ceasefire was in effect and being observed around Azovstal Friday.

On its Telegram channel, the regiment said: "As the result of the shelling, one fighter was killed and 6 were wounded. The enemy continues to violate all agreements and fail to adhere to security guarantees of civilians' evacuation."

The Azov Regiment has dozens of fighters still trapped at the steel complex. 

8:10 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

G7 leaders will hold video conference with Zelensky on Sunday, German government says 

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a press conference at the Chancellery on May 4, in Berlin, Germany.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a press conference at the Chancellery on May 4, in Berlin, Germany. (Omer Messinger/Getty Images)

The Group of G7 leaders are set to hold a video conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, according to a German government spokesperson.

"The German chancellor (Olaf Scholz) will hold the third video conference since the start of the year with his G7 partners," Christiane Hoffmann told reporters at a regular press briefing in Berlin on Friday. Germany currently holds the G7 presidency.

Hoffman went on to say that May 8 is a "historic date marking the end of World War II in Europe."

"It will cover current issues, particularly the situation in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky will take part and report on the current situation in his country," she said. 

The German chancellor will also give a televised address to the German nation in the evening of May 8, Hoffmann said, adding that May 8 has a special meaning this year as the two countries that were once victims of Nazi Germany are now at war with each other.

8:39 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here’s the latest on Russia’s invasion

Smoke rises above the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5.
Smoke rises above the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

As the Russian siege of Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant continues, here are the latest developments from Ukraine.

Constant shelling: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the shelling of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is "not stopping" -- even as "civilians still need to be taken out." In an address on Thursday, he said: "Women, many children remain there. Just imagine the hell -- more than two months of constant shelling, bombing, constant death nearby."

“Bloody battles”: A Ukrainian commander at the steel plant said there are "bloody battles" unfolding inside the complex after Russian troops breached the perimeter. "I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the enemy's onslaught,” said the commander of the Azov Regiment soldiers inside the Azovstal plant, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko.

Evacuation ongoing: The "next stage" of the evacuation of Ukrainian civilians from the steel plant is underway, according to Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president's office. The United Nations said it hoped that a joint convoy from the UN and the International Red Cross would be able to evacuate more civilians from Azovstal on Friday. 

Soviet-era symbols: Ukrainian officials have posted images from Mariupol showing continuing work by what they call "the occupiers" to restore monuments from the Soviet era. Petro Andrushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of the coastal city, distributed new photographs on Friday saying that, in recent days, all the monuments of the Soviet period have been "restored."

More sanctions: Alina Kabaeva, a woman romantically linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been included in the sixth proposed package of EU sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, according to two European diplomatic sources.

US assistance: US provided intelligence that helped Ukraine sink the Moskva, a Russian guided-missile cruiser that was the flagship of Moscow's fleet in the Black Sea, sources familiar with the events told CNN. The Pentagon has denied providing "specific targeting information" to Ukraine.

8:11 a.m. ET, May 6, 2022

Almost 400 health facilities destroyed or damaged by Russian troops, Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address the nation on May 5.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address the nation on May 5. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "Russian troops have destroyed or damaged almost 400 health facilities," during his address to Ukrainians on Thursday night.

He said this was based on "only the medical infrastructure," and that the facilities affected included "hospitals, maternity hospitals, outpatient clinics."

"In the temporarily occupied areas of Ukraine -- in the east and south -- the situation with access to medical services and medicines is just catastrophic," Zelensky said, adding that "even the simplest medications are missing."

The President also highlighted the "complete lack of treatment for cancer patients," as well as "a lack of antibiotics" and "difficult or impossible" lack of access to insulin.

Russia's attack on a maternity and children's hospital in Mariupol on March 9 has been one of the most reported incidents to date during the ongoing invasion.

At least five people were killed and at least 17 were injured, including children.

Two hospitals in Zhytomyr, west of the capital, Kyiv, had their windows blown out in a Russian airstrike on a thermal power plant and civilian building in the city on the same day, the mayor said. One of them was a children's hospital.

The rules of war specify that civilians should not be targeted and that medical workers, medical vehicles and hospitals dedicated to humanitarian work cannot be attacked.

12:15 p.m. ET, May 6, 2022

Kremlin spokesperson twice ducks question of whether Putin apologized to Israel's PM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on April 27.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on April 27. (Russian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov twice declined to answer questions from journalists on Friday about whether Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over anti-Semitic remarks his foreign minister made this week.

An Israeli summary of a phone call between the two leaders on Thursday said Bennett accepted Putin’s apology; a Russian summary made no mention of any contrition.

“At the moment, we have nothing to add to what was said in the readout,” Peskov said on his regular press briefing call.

Israeli leaders responded with fury earlier in the week after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry. The assertion has no basis in fact.

Asked on Friday by a journalist if Lavrov should apologize, Peskov replied: “I’m not sure I understand your question.”

Some context: On Sunday, Putin's top diplomat Lavrov sought to justify Moscow's absurd goal of "de-Nazifying" Ukraine -- a baseless portrayal of the country, which is led by a Jewish president -- by claiming Adolf Hitler had "Jewish blood" and that "the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews."

Bennett called the assertions "lies" and Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid described them as "unforgiveable and outrageous," warning that Israel had "tried to maintain good relations with Russia, but there is a line, and this time the line has been crossed."