May 8, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes, Helen Regan and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT) May 9, 2022
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11:46 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

G7 virtual meeting has started, White House offical says 

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

US President Joe Biden's virtual meeting with leaders of the G7 and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has started, per a White House official. 

The meeting, deliberately taking place a day before Russia's annual Victory Day celebrations, will focus on the latest developments in Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, support for Ukraine and a demonstration of "continued G7 unity," in their collective response. 

Sanctions would also be on the agenda, an official told CNN. CNN has asked for more details on the exact timing.

11:31 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Acting US ambassador and a group of US diplomats return to embassy in Kyiv for first time since war began

From CNN’s Jennifer Hansler

US diplomats return to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday.
US diplomats return to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday. (CNN)

Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien and a group of US diplomats returned to the embassy in Kyiv on Sunday for the first time since the war began more than two months ago.

The US embassy in the Ukrainian capital was shuttered in mid-February as concerns grew of Russian military action. A small group of US diplomats was relocated to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv before moving across the border to Poland and commuting back and forth into Ukraine. On Feb. 24 — the same day Russia’s military invasion began — the US suspended services in Lviv.

In late April, during a visit to Kyiv, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US would return diplomats to Ukraine. Diplomats had begun making day trips into Lviv following that announcement.

The visit by Kvien and other US diplomats to Kyiv comes of Victory in Europe Day — a day before Russia’s Victory Day — and on the same day that First Lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine.

12:05 p.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Canadian PM Trudeau is in Ukraine and will meet with President Zelensky

From CNN’s Keith Allen in Atlanta

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday, May 8.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday, May 8. (Oleksandr Markushyn/Facebook)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has traveled to Ukraine and will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to Trudeau administration press secretary Cecely Roy.

“The Prime Minister is in Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm Canada’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people,” Roy told CNN in an email Sunday morning.

The timing and location of the visit and meeting was not made available.

 

12:08 p.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Ukrainian steel factory under constant shelling by Russians

From CNN's Anastasia Graham Yooll and Julia Kesaieva

Smoke rises from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Saturday, May 7.
Smoke rises from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Saturday, May 7. (Alexei Alexandrov/AP)

The Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is under “constant intense shelling” by Russian forces trying to take the last remaining stronghold in the port city, according to the Azov brigade, who held an online news conference from a hideout location within the plant.

The Russians are attacking with “artillery, tanks, mortars, infantry and snipers,” according to the soldiers.  

Azov soldier Illia Samoilenko said Russian troops have “reached a barrier in close proximity to Azov regiment positions.” The Ukrainian fighters’ supplies are “limited” but they still have enough water and ammunition to withstand the attack, he said. 

“We still have munition, we still have personal weapons and we will fight till the best resolution of this situation,” Samoilenko said. 

12:42 p.m. ET, May 8, 2022

US ambassador to UN on Victory Day celebrations in Russia: "They have nothing to celebrate tomorrow."

From CNN's Sam Fossum

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks with CNN on Sunday.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks with CNN on Sunday. (CNN)

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Sunday that the Kremlin has "nothing to celebrate" on May 9, Russian Victory Day, and that reports of the Russian bombing of a Ukrainian school overnight can be added to the "long list" of war crimes. 

"They have nothing to celebrate tomorrow. They have not succeeded in defeating the Ukrainians they've not succeeded in dividing the world or dividing NATO," Thomas-Greenfield said on "State of the Union." 

She added: "We have called out the Russians very early on for committing war crimes. And this contributes to that. We're going to continue to work with the Ukrainian prosecutors and others to document evidence of their war crimes so that they can be held accountable. This just adds to the long list that we already have."

Asked about where the line is with US intelligence sharing with Ukraine, Thomas-Greenfield said that the US will continue to provide aid to Ukraine but that the Ukrainians "make the decisions on what they will target."

On whether Russia should be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, Thomas-Greenfield did not answer if the US had plans to add them to the list but that Russia certainly "deserve to be called out for the acts of terror that they are committing."

And reacting to the breaking news that First Lady Jill Biden crossed into Ukraine on Sunday, Thomas-Greenfield said:  "For her to go there on Mother's Day to meet with the Ukrainian first lady, I think sends a very strong a very strong, a very positive message."

11:03 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

U2 performs inside a Ukraine train station

U2’s Bono sings with Taras Topolia, the singer of Ukrainian pop-rock band Antytila, inside a metro station in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, May 8.
U2’s Bono sings with Taras Topolia, the singer of Ukrainian pop-rock band Antytila, inside a metro station in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, May 8. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

U2 singer Bono and guitarist, The Edge, gave a surprise performance at the Khreschatyk metro station in Kyiv on Sunday.

The band said in a tweet on Sunday that President Zelensky "invited us to perform in Kyiv as a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and so that’s what we’ve come to do."

U2 singer Bono and guitarist, The Edge, perform at a metro station in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 8.
U2 singer Bono and guitarist, The Edge, perform at a metro station in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 8. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)

View the tweet here:

Watch video of the performance here:

1:01 p.m. ET, May 8, 2022

UK foreign secretary “horrified” by Luhansk deadly school bombing

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London

Firefighters work the site of a school that was bombed in Luhansk, Ukraine, on May 7.
Firefighters work the site of a school that was bombed in Luhansk, Ukraine, on May 7. (From Luhansk Regional Governor Serhiy Haidai)

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Sunday she was “horrified” by Russia’s bombing of a school in Luhansk, Ukraine, “resulting in the deaths of innocent people sheltering from Russian bombardment.”

“Deliberate targeting of civilians & civilian infrastructure amounts to war crimes. We will ensure Putin’s regime is held accountable,” she tweeted

Ukrainian authorities in Luhansk said on Sunday that 60 people were “most likely dead” after a Russian aircraft dropped a bomb on the school where civilians were sheltering on Saturday.

See the tweet:

11:08 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

First Lady Jill Biden makes unannounced trip to Ukraine

From CNN's Kate Bennett

US first lady Jill Biden receives flowers from Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on May 8.
US first lady Jill Biden receives flowers from Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on May 8. (Susan Walsh/AP)

US First Lady Jill Biden made an unannounced trip on Sunday to Uzhhorod, Ukraine, a small city in the far southwestern corner of Ukraine. 

At a converted school that now serves as temporary housing for displaced citizens, Biden met with Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska, who has not been seen in public since the start of the war on Feb. 24.

The first lady is the latest high profile American to visit the war torn country in recent weeks. 

US first lady Jill Biden and Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska make Mother’s Day crafts with children at a school in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on May 8.
US first lady Jill Biden and Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska make Mother’s Day crafts with children at a school in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on May 8. (Susan Walsh/AP)

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” said Biden to her Ukrainian counterpart, the two women seated at a small table in a classroom of a former school that is now a source of temporary housing for displaced Ukrainians, including 48 children.

“We thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people this war has to stop. And this war has been brutal.” Biden added, “The people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”

Zelenska, who early on in the Russian invasion sent a letter to Biden, has exchanged correspondence in recent weeks, US officials tell CNN.

View video from the first lady's visit here:

9:25 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

15-year-old Ukrainian drove herself and others through battlefield to safety, despite leg wounds

From CNN's Maryna Marukhnych and Tim Lister

In the midst of fierce shelling by Russian forces, a 15-year-old drove several people who had been injured out of the frontline town of Popasna in Luhansk. 

During the journey, the car was shot at and she was wounded in the legs, but she kept driving.  

The girl's first name is Anastasia; as she is a minor CNN is not giving her full name. One of her teachers confirmed her identity to CNN.

Not only did Anastasia have to drive through a battlefield; there were mines and bodies on the road out of the town, which was on the verge of falling to Russian forces.

She was among the last civilians to try to escape Popasna, much of which has been destroyed in weeks of fighting.   

Anastasia said she wanted to help evacuate two men who had been wounded. Two other people were also in the car.

“And I had to get behind the wheel and drive to Bakhmut,” she said — a journey of some 20 miles through countryside that is often under fire by Russian artillery and planes. 

She had driven before; her deceased mother had taught her, she said. But it was hardly any preparation for the escape from the hellish situation in Popasna. 

“We have a bridge, then you go down, and then up. And there were mines there in a checkerboard pattern. There was no way to get through,” she said. 

“But I somehow drove through. Further along there was the corpse of a woman,” she said in an interview conducted in by the Lviv hospital and provided to CNN. 

Anastasia added, “And then there was a turn to the right and we were fired upon, my feet [were hit]. There was almost nothing I could do, the car stalled.” 

“When they started shooting, the car stopped and they fired. Then I started the car and we drove on again," she said.

The car staggered forward a short distance but then stalled again because the battery had been shot through by a bullet. 

The teenl and the other occupants of the car were picked up by the Ukrainian military and taken to the hospital in Bakhmut. 

She said she had two bullet wounds to her knee and foot.