High casualties feared after school shelter in Ukraine bombed
From CNN's Olga Voitovych
Ukraine has accused Russia of dropping a bomb on a school in Luhansk region where 90 people were taking shelter.
Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said a Russian aircraft had dropped a bomb on the school in the village of Bilohorivka, which is about 7 miles from the front lines.
Hayday said 30 people had so far been rescued from the rubble.
"Almost the entire village was hiding. Everyone who did not evacuate. After the social club was hit, the basement of the school was the only place of salvation, but the Russians took this chance from people," Hayday said.
The rescue operation is ongoing, he said. Photographs posted by the regional authorities show the school in ruins.
3:55 p.m. ET, May 7, 2022
It's 11 p.m. in Ukraine. Here's what happened Saturday and what we're watching in the coming days.
The Ukrainian government said the evacuation of many civilians from the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol was completed on Saturday.
Catch up on the latest developments in the war here — and a look ahead to events on Sunday and Monday.
Azovstal evacuations: Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that "all women, children and elderly people" have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. "This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed," she said. There were no further details on numbers.
As of Saturday morning local time, more than 100 civilians — including children — were thought to be trapped inside the sprawling complex, along with several hundred soldiers, many of them injured.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Russian forces continue to blockade the Ukrainian troops inside the plant. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also said Friday he's working on diplomatic options to help evacuate the remaining military in Azovstal.
The self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said Saturday that a total of 152 people had been evacuated from the city of Mariupol in the eight hours since 8 a.m. local time. It remains unclear whether the total includes any civilians who are trapped at Azovstal.
Odesa strikes: Russia fired six cruise missiles at the southwestern port city of Odesa on Saturday, according to Ukraine's military. Video from the city shows thick columns of black smoke in several locations.
The United Nations has called to reopen the port to help ease a global food crisis.
Here's what to be on the lookout for in the coming days:
G7 meeting with Zelensky: On Sunday, US President Joe Biden will meet virtually with the Ukrainian president and his G7 counterparts during a meeting of the G7 forum, deliberately scheduled ahead of Russia's Victory Day. Sanctions will be on the agenda for the meeting.
Victory Day: On Monday, Russia will commemorate the Soviet Union's role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. Western officials have long believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would leverage the symbolic significance and propaganda value of the day to announce either a military achievement in Ukraine, a major escalation of hostilities — or both.
The Kremlin said Friday that May 9 is a “sacred” day for Russians, and it won't be "overshadowed" by the events unfolding in Ukraine. The Kremlin confirmed that Putin will attend the traditional parade held in Moscow’s Red Square and will make a speech. At the end of the parade, Putin will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
2:17 p.m. ET, May 7, 2022
Russia and Ukraine report combat near Snake Island
From CNN's Tim Lister and Mariya Knight
The Russian defense ministry claimed that its forces in the area of Snake Island off the coast of Ukraine have shot down several Ukrainian aircraft and drones.
What Russia is saying: In a briefing in Moscow, the defense ministry spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said that a Ukrainian Su-24 bomber, a Su-27 fighter aircraft, three Mi-8 helicopters with a landing force and two Turkish-made attack drones had been shot down.
"The Ukrainian amphibious assault boat Stanislav has also been destroyed," he said.
The ministry posted a video purporting to show Russian air defenses on Snake Island bringing down a drone.
What Ukraine is saying: Earlier, the Ukrainian military also reported combat around Snake Island but did not comment on any losses. It released drone footage which, it said, showed its forces destroying a Russian landing craft on the island. It said that two anti-aircraft missile systems had also been hit.
Snake Island is where, early on in the war, Ukrainian soldiers reacted with words of defiance against Russian attackers. According to a purported audio exchange, a Russian officer told the Ukrainians to lay down their arms, but a soldier responded: "Russian warship, go f*** yourself." All 13 Ukrainian defenders were at first believed to have been killed; it was later revealed that they were alive but had to surrender due to lack of ammunition.
2:05 p.m. ET, May 7, 2022
CIA director: Putin "doesn't believe he can afford to lose" the war in Ukraine
From CNN's Zachary Cohen
CIA Director Bill Burns warned on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has staked a lot on the second phase of his war in Ukraine and believes that “doubling down” on the military conflict is still his best path forward.
It is this mindset, Burns said, that makes the second phase of the offensive at least as risky — and maybe even riskier — than the first phase of the conflict.
"He's in a frame of mind in which he doesn't believe he can afford to lose," Burns said about Putin during a Financial Times event in Washington. "I think he's convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress."
“His convictions about Ukraine and the reality of Russia’s capability to continue to grind away at Ukrainian resistance — I don’t know whether that’s been shaken yet,” he added. “So the stakes are quite high.”
That view is informed by what Burns said he has observed about Putin over the last several years.
"What I've seen, especially over the last decade, is him in a way stewing in a very combustible combination of grievance and ambition and insecurity all kind of wrapped together," he said.
Burns also said that the risk of the war escalating into a nuclear conflict should not be underestimated during the second phase, even though the US intelligence community does not see “practical evidence at this point of Russian planning for deployment … of tactical nuclear weapons.”
“Given the kind of saber-rattling … we’ve heard from the Russian leadership, we can’t take lightly those possibilities,” Burns said. “At a moment when … the stakes are very high for Putin’s Russia and those risks at this second phase of the conflict are serious and should not be underestimated.”
Ramifications outside Russia: Burns also said that Russia’s conflict in Ukraine has affected China’s calculations when it comes to “how and when” it goes about attempting to take control of Taiwan.
“Clearly the Chinese leadership is trying to look carefully about the lessons they should draw from Ukraine about their own ambitions in Taiwan,” Burns said.
“I don’t think for a minute it’s eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control over Taiwan but I think its something that’s affecting their calculation about how and when they go about doing that,” he added.
4:04 p.m. ET, May 7, 2022
"All women, children and elderly" have been evacuated from Azovstal, Ukrainian government says
From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Presniakova and Olga Voitovych
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that "all women, children and elderly people" have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant.
"The order of the president has been done," she said. "This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed."
In brief comments to CNN from inside the Azovstal plant on Saturday evening local time, one of the Ukrainian defenders at the complex said that an evacuation of civilians had been conducted without incident.
The comments were made by Mykhailo Vershynin, the chief of the Mariupol Patrol Police. He gave no details about the number that had been able to leave.
Separately, the general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Russian forces continue to blockade the Ukrainian troops inside the plant and were using artillery and tank fire as they conducted assault operations.
What Russia is saying: A senior Russian official has agreed that the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant has been completed.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia's National Center for Defense Management, said that Russia had evacuated a total of 51 civilians from Azovstal, in cooperation with the United Nations and the Red Cross, since May 5. Mizintzev said the tally included just one person evacuated Saturday.
The Russian account, which was carried by the state news agency TASS, appeared to match that of the Ukrainian government.
The total of 51 evacuees is much lower than previous estimates of the number of civilians still trapped at Azovstal. As of Saturday morning local time, more than 100 civilians — including children — were still thought to be trapped inside the sprawling complex, along with several hundred soldiers, many of them injured. It's not known how many men besides the Ukrainian soldiers might still be in the sprawling complex.
One of the Ukrainian soldiers still at Azovstal, Serhiy Volina, posted on Facebook late Saturday local time: "Looks like I'm in some hellish reality show where we military fighting for life, taking every chance to save and the whole world is just watching an interesting story!" he said.
"This is the real life! Pain, suffering, hunger, torment, tears, fear, death - all real!" he wrote.
Volina said he was hoping for a miracle from the "higher powers" and that "this hell of a reality show will end."
"Time goes by, and time is our lives!" he concluded.
12:54 p.m. ET, May 7, 2022
No word from Ukrainians or separatists on Azovstal evacuations Saturday
From CNN's Tim Lister
There have been no public statements from any side on the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol Saturday.
The Ukrainian government had expressed the hope that another batch of civilians would be able to leave the complex today.
The area around Azovstal appears to have been relatively quiet Saturday.
The self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, whose militia controls the surrounding area, said Saturday that a total of 152 people had been evacuated from the city of Mariupol in the eight hours since 8 a.m. local time. It remains unclear whether the total includes any civilians who are trapped at Azovstal.
The DPR said the total includes 32 children. All had been taken to a filtration facility in the town of Bezimenne.
CNN cannot verify the statement.
There has been no comment from the Ukrainian side or the United Nations on the latest evacuations.
Late Friday, the Ukrainian government had proposed an evacuation that would collect civilians from Azovstal and then more people from the city of Mariupol. The proposed time for the departure of that convoy passed at 5 p.m. local time (which was 10 a.m. ET), and there has been no further word on developments.
The defenders of the Azovstal complex raised the number of dead in a clash that took place Friday on the edge of the plant from one to three.
1:02 p.m. ET, May 7, 2022
6 Russian cruise missiles fired at Odesa, Ukrainian military reports
From Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva and Julia Presniakova
Russia fired six cruise missiles at the southern port city of Odesa Saturday, according to Ukraine's Security and Defense Force South.
Video from the city shows thick columns of black smoke in several locations.
The enemy continues not only the physical destruction of the region's infrastructure, but also the psychological pressure on the civilian population," said the Ukrainian military's Operational Command (South).
It said there were no casualties.
The regional military administration also posted a drone video purporting to show a strike against a Russian patrol boat in the Black Sea.
Some background: In the last few days, Ukrainian air force units have carried out several strikes against Russian positions on Russian-occupied Snake Island off the coast of Crimea.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme has called for the reopening of ports in Odesa to help rein in the global hunger crisis.
11:12 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022
150 civilians evacuated from Mariupol Saturday, according to self-declared Donetsk People's Republic
From CNN's Tim Lister
The self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said that a total of 152 people have been evacuated from Mariupol Saturday.
It's unclear whether the total includes any civilians who were trapped at the Azovstal steel plant.
The DPR said that "on 7 May, from 08:00 to 16:00, 152 people, including 32 children, were evacuated from Mariupol to Bezimenne, Novoazovsk district."
"At the present moment, they are in the evacuation assistance point, which has been deployed by the DNR Ministry of Emergency Situations," the DPR added.
There has been no comment from the Ukrainian side or the United Nations on the latest evacuations.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of civilians evacuated from Mariupol on Saturday — it was 152, not 50 — and it is unclear whether the total includes anyone from the Azovstal steel plant.
10:21 a.m. ET, May 7, 2022
US first lady Jill Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees in Romania: "Those children really have suffered"
From CNN's Sam Fossum
US first lady Jill Biden, accompanied by Romanian first lady Carmen Iohannis, visited a school earlier this morning where they talked with Ukrainian and Romanian educators, spoke to Ukrainian mothers and met with children.
Following her visit to the Uruguay School, Biden spoke shortly to reporters before boarding a plane, discussing the emotional impact of her visit to the school and the bravery of the mothers she met.
"It was so emotional, right? I think that really the Ukrainians know that we are standing with them," Biden told reporters.
"You can see it; those children really have suffered," she added. "In a lot of ways, the teachers are the glue that help these kids deal with their trauma and deal with the emotion and help give them a sense of normalcy," Biden said.
Inside a classroom, children told Biden they were tracing their hands and making cutouts from copies of the Ukrainian and Romanian flags. At one point, a small girl approached the first lady holding her handprint cutout of the Ukrainian flag. Biden asked her to share her message, and a translator next to the girl said that she said, “I want to return to my father.”
Biden sat down at a table to talk to a group of children who, according to their teacher, were working on a drawing of what the world would look like without war.
The first ladies also had a listening session with educators and refugees.
Anastasia Konovalvoa, a Ukrainian teacher who fled in March to Romania, was among those who shared her story.
“I crossed the border with my 3-year-old son and everything I was thinking about was how to save my child from a city that was bombed,” she said. “Thank God the Romanian people were here. I think even the Romanian didn’t expect that they could be so wonderful because you don’t expect that from people.”
“We stand with you,” Biden told her. “I hope you know that,” later adding, “I think you are the amazing ones, really.”
Biden also thanked Iohannis and said the Romanian people are “heroes.”
After the listening session, they went outside where students sang the Romanian national anthem followed by the Ukrainian military march song.
Biden is now headed to Slovakia.
This post also includes information from pool reports.