May 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Jessie Yeung, Andrew Raine, Rob Picheta, Kathryn Snowdon and Amarachi Orie, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022
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5:12 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022

No further evacuations reported from Azovstal Saturday

From CNN's Tim Lister

There were no signs of further evacuations of civilians from the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol on Saturday, after a flurry of activity late Friday.

Both Russia and Ukraine have said that the evacuations should continue Saturday. At least 100 civilians -- including children -- remain trapped in underground bunkers at the sprawling complex, which covers 11 square kilometers.

Around 50 civilians left the plant late on Friday, and were taken in buses escorted by Russian armored vehicles to a reception center at Bezimenne to the east of Mariupol, a town now controlled by Russian-backed separatists of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic.

Civilians evacuated from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walk accompanied by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross as they arrive at a temporary accommodation center in the village of Bezimenne to the east of Mariupol, Ukraine on May 6.
Civilians evacuated from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walk accompanied by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross as they arrive at a temporary accommodation center in the village of Bezimenne to the east of Mariupol, Ukraine on May 6. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The Ukrainians said they were later able to travel to Ukrainian-held territory.

The evacuations are brokered by the United Nations and International Red Cross.

Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said she hopes that a broader evacuation of people wishing to leave Mariupol will resume later Saturday, after it failed to get underway Friday.

"If all goes according to plan, there will be buses to Port City at 5:00 p.m. (10 a.m. ET) to take people to Bezimenne," she said. Port City is a shopping center on the outskirts of Mariupol. 

"There, people from Port City will join our column from Azovstal, which will leave for Zaporizhzhia the next day," she said.

Still unknown is the fate of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who remain trapped at the steelworks. Russia has repeatedly said that they can only leave if they lay down their arms.

On Friday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky said: "We are also working on diplomatic options to save our military, who still remain at Azovstal. Influential mediators are involved, including influential states."

4:30 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022

Map: Areas of Russian control in Ukraine's east

Russia is continuing its attacks across Ukraine's eastern flank ahead of May 9, when it's speculated that President Vladimir Putin could declare some form of victory or step up his assault on the country.

But Ukraine's counter-offensives to the north and east of Kharkiv have made gains, and "may successfully push Russian forces out of artillery range" of the city in the coming days, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

And with Russia's May 9 "Victory Day" approaching, cities throughout Ukraine are on high alert. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko is urging citizens to stay inside from Sunday into Monday.

7:00 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022

Ukraine says Russians blew up bridges to prevent counter-attacks

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

For the first time, the Ukrainian military has said that Russian forces have begun to blow up bridges to slow a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the north-east.

In its latest operational update, the General Staff said Saturday that in the area of Tsyrkuny and Rusky Tyshky east of Kharkiv, "the occupiers blew up three road bridges in order to slow down the counter-offensive actions of the Defense Forces."

CNN cannot independently verify the claim.

In the past two weeks, Ukrainian troops have retaken a number of villages to the north and east of Kharkiv, making it more difficult for Russians to use artillery against the city as well as threatening to interdict Russian supply lines for forces fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk.

A Ukrainian serviceman stands guard at an undisclosed location in Kharkiv, Ukraine on May 2.
A Ukrainian serviceman stands guard at an undisclosed location in Kharkiv, Ukraine on May 2. (Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Kharkiv is close to the Russian border, and was one of the first cities to come under attack when Russia invaded.

Lull in Russian offensive: The General Staff said for the second consecutive day that there had been few offensive actions by Russian forces, but that artillery fire and aerial reconnaissance continued.

Some Ukrainian officials believe Russian units are pausing before launching the next phase aimed at securing all of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Beyond these two regions, the General Staff says, the Russians have continued to shell the southern city of Mykolaiv. To the north of the city, Ukrainians claimed to have destroyed "a warehouse with ammunition and up to 20 units of enemy military equipment."

Russia's "Victory Day": Tensions are rising ahead of May 9, known as Russia's "Victory Day" -- marking Moscow's victory over Nazi Germany. Western officials have warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on that day, allowing him to mobilize reserves and ramp up the Russian assault.

In the lead-up to the day, Russian forces occupying the Ukrainian region of Kherson have increased checkpoints and patrols, said the Ukrainian General Staff.

The Russian-appointed deputy head of the Kherson military administration, Kirill Stremousov, said on Friday that residents would be allowed to have Russian passports. Also on Friday, a senior Russian official was in the region with the leader of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic.

12:15 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022

It's 7:15 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Evacuation efforts are continuing in the besieged city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are sheltering in the Azovstal plant -- which saw its perimeter breached this week by Russian forces, according to a commander inside. Meanwhile, tensions are rising in the lead-up to May 9 — Russia's symbolic "Victory Day" holiday, which could bring a formal declaration of war.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Mariupol plant: At least 50 civilians were evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Friday, according to the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, with more evacuation efforts scheduled for Saturday. On Wednesday, Ukrainian defenders in the plant said there were "bloody battles" with Russian forces inside the complex after they broke in.
  • Zelensky's comments: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he’s working on diplomatic efforts to save military forces that remain in the Azovstal plant. Speaking on Friday, he said Mariupol was one of the most complicated points of the war, and if Russian forces killed civilians inside, Ukraine would not be able to continue diplomatic talks.
  • Foreign aid: The UK announced Saturday it would send extra generators to help run Ukrainian relief centers and hospitals. It will also relax its rules on overseas fossil fuels, so the government can support Ukraine's energy and fuel needs, it said. US President Joe Biden also announced additional security assistance to Ukraine, with $150 million worth of equipment including artillery and radars.
  • Russia's "Victory Day": The mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv has urged citizens to “be aware” and stay inside Sunday into Monday, around Russia's symbolic annual "Victory Day." Western officials have warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on May 9, allowing him to step up his campaign and mobilize reserves.
  • G7 weekend summit: Biden will meet virtually with Zelensky and his G7 counterparts on Sunday morning during a meeting of the G7 forum, deliberately scheduled ahead of Russia's "Victory Day." Sanctions will be on the agenda for the meeting.
  • Grain stalled: The UN has called to reopen the Odesa port in southern Ukraine, to help ease a global food crisis. The blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports is preventing nearly 25 million tonnes of grain from being exported. CNN has also 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.
12:24 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022

UK sanctions could lead to "final destruction of bilateral ties," Russia warns British ambassador

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Deborah Bronnert, British Ambassador to Moscow, takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall in Moscow, Russia on February 10.
Deborah Bronnert, British Ambassador to Moscow, takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall in Moscow, Russia on February 10. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

British Ambassador to Moscow Deborah Bronnert was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday over the latest sanctions against Russia, including sanctions against the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, according to a statement from the Russian foreign ministry.

“The Ambassador was told about the unacceptability of such destructive actions, the continuation of which will inevitably lead to the final destruction of bilateral ties and damage to relations between the peoples of Russia and the United Kingdom," the statement read.

The imposition of sanctions against the Russian media "only because their coverage and interpretation of events taking place in the world is not consistent with Western patterns, once again clearly confirms the duplicity and cynicism of British politicians, for whom such a thing as freedom of the media is nothing more than a tool for solving market problems," the statement added.

The ministry accused the UK and its officials for imposing sanctions and making statements with "threats" that are "interspersed with lies and outright rudeness" against Russia.

"Russian side will continue to respond harshly and decisively to all sanctions initiated by London and take retaliatory measures," the statement added.

11:55 p.m. ET, May 6, 2022

Taiwan sanctions Belarus for "active involvement" in Ukraine war 

From CNN’s Wayne Chang in Taipei

Taiwan has imposed sanctions against Belarus targeting the export of 57 high-tech commodities to the country, citing Belarus' “active involvement” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs in a statement Friday.  

The sanctioned items include designated telecommunications equipment, integrated circuit parts and variable-frequency drives with dual civil and military purposes.

Taipei imposed sanctions of the same scope against Russia in early April.  

In a separate statement, Taiwan’s foreign ministry noted that the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Japan have already announced sanctions on Belarus. 

11:55 p.m. ET, May 6, 2022

UK to relax overseas fossil fuels rules to “boost supply of vital energy” to Ukraine

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

The United Kingdom announced Saturday it will bolster its humanitarian aid to Ukraine by sending more essential equipment to relief centers and hospitals. 

In a statement, the British government said it will deliver an extra 287 generators that will help to run relief centers, hospitals, phone masts and water pumping stations. The new generators are enough to power the equivalent of around 8,000 homes and will be used for essential services in the face of the ongoing destruction in Eastern Ukraine.

“Hospitals, shelters and other essential services will be given more power to operate in the face of ongoing Russian attacks with a further 287 mobile generators donated from the UK government,” according to the statement.

In total, the UK will have delivered 856 generators. 

“Putin’s atrocities have continued to escalate, and so we are ramping up our support to the Ukrainian people in their time of need. Our donation of a further 287 generators will ensure more essential services in Ukraine can keep running,” Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said.

Britain’s decision follows a request from Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko, who welcomed the previous shipment of generators by saying ‘the light will always win over darkness’,” the government said. 

The generators will be delivered to a Polish government hub. From there, the Ukrainian government and the country’s energy networks will distribute the generators across the country to where they are needed most.

Fossil fuel rules: The UK government also said it is relaxing rules on support for overseas fossil fuels to boost supply of vital energy to Ukraine.

The policy typically prevents the UK from providing any new direct support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas -- but the government will introduce two exemptions for Ukraine and Eastern Europe, to allow the UK to support Ukraine's energy and fuel needs, the government said.

11:54 p.m. ET, May 6, 2022

UN World Food Programme calls for reopening of Odesa ports to help rein in global hunger crisis

From CNN’s Masha Angelova

Silos and containers on the dockside at the Port of Odesa on March 17.
Silos and containers on the dockside at the Port of Odesa on March 17. (Nathan Laine/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has called for the reopening of ports in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa to help rein in the global hunger crisis.

The ports in Odesa and other Ukrainian Black Sea ports have been blocked because of the war, leaving millions of metric tons of grain sitting in silos.

Ukraine is a major breadbasket for countries in the Middle East and North Africa that depend on imports; in the eight months before the war began, almost 51 million metric tons of grain transited through Ukraine's Black Sea ports, said the WFP in a news release on Friday.

If the ports don't reopen, “mountains of grain” will go to waste, while “WFP and the world struggle to deal with an already catastrophic global hunger crisis,” said the release.

“Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full. At the same time, 44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation. We have to open up these ports so that food can move in and out of Ukraine. The world demands it because hundreds of millions of people globally depend on these supplies,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

At the start of 2022, 276 million people were already facing acute hunger. That number is expected to rise by another 47 million people if the war in Ukraine continues, according to the agency’s analysis.

The United States and Europe will feel the pain, too, with increasing prices for important agricultural goods.

4:11 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022

The US walks a fine line with intelligence sharing in Ukraine

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis, Jeremy Herb and Zachary Cohen

Two months into Russia's war in Ukraine, the Biden administration has increased the amount of intelligence it shares with Kyiv, contributing to successful strikes against senior Russian leaders and the Russian Navy's flagship, the Moskva, sources familiar with the intelligence sharing tell CNN.

Images emerged early Monday, April 18, on social media showing Russia's guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva, badly damaged and on fire in the hours before the ship sunk in the Black Sea.
Images emerged early Monday, April 18, on social media showing Russia's guided-missile cruiser, the Moskva, badly damaged and on fire in the hours before the ship sunk in the Black Sea. (From Social Media)

But the effort raises questions about how far the White House is willing to go to help Ukraine fight the Russians while also trying to avoid provoking Moscow and getting drawn into the conflict.

Administration officials insist there are clear limits on the intelligence it shares with Ukraine, including a ban against providing precision targeting intelligence for senior Russian leaders by name, part of a White House effort to avoid crossing a line that Moscow may view as too escalatory.

Yet some current and former officials have suggested that the limits the Biden administration have drawn are arbitrary, in part because the end result is the same -- Ukrainian strikes that kill senior Russian leaders. On top of that, any US assessment of what actions might provoke Moscow depends on the thinking of just one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"You're trying to put on your Vladimir Putin hat and try to see, what does he see as crossing a red line?" said retired Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. "That red line is one that probably exists only in Putin's head — and it may not be something that he's even thought his way through or conveyed."

Sources familiar with the administration's approach say the decisions to gradually broaden the intelligence it is willing to share have been primarily based on the judgments of Biden administration officials rather than any changing assessments about how escalatory Russia might view a given action.

Read the full report here.