Almost 500 civilians have been evacuated from the battered city of Mariupol and its besieged Azovstal steel plant since a UN-led rescue operation began, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office said Friday. Ukrainian fighters in the tunnels underneath the plant held out against Russian troops Thursday in an increasingly desperate effort to deny Moscow a complete capture of the city. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
8:30am: ‘Almost 500 civilians’ evacuated from Mariupol, Kyiv says
Almost 500 civilians have been evacuated from Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant since a UN-led rescue operation began, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office said Friday.
“We have managed to evacuate almost 500 civilians,” Andriy Yermak said on Telegram. He said Kyiv will “do everything to save all its civilians and military” stuck in the devastated city, adding that the evacuations would continue.
UN- and Red Cross-led evacuations began on the weekend of April 30 to May 2.
7:52am: Hungary cannot support new EU sanctions against Russia in present form, Orban says
Hungary cannot support the European Union’s new sanctions package against Russia in its present form, including an embargo on Russian crude oil imports, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.
Orban said the European Commission’s current proposal would amount to an “atomic bomb” dropped on the Hungarian economy, adding that Hungary was ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that would meet Hungarian interests.
5:36am: Documents found on yacht seized in Fiji implicate Russian owner
Authorities in Fiji have seized the $300 million yacht of Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov after the US justice department requested the vessel be held for violating sanctions and for alleged ties to corruption, the department said Thursday.
The five-year-old, 106-metre “Amadea” was berthed in Lautoka, Fiji when local authorities took control of it based on a US warrant and the justice department request.
Fiji authorities searching the yacht have found documents implicating its suspected owner in breaking US law, the FBI said.
Fiji police and FBI agents seized the Amadea at a wharf on Thursday, two days after a Fiji court granted the US warrant, which linked the vessel to money laundering.
12:27am: Pentagon denies helping Ukraine target Russian generals
The US defence department denied Thursday that it provided intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield so that Ukrainian forces could kill them.
Reacting to an explosive New York Times report on US support for Ukraine’s military, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said it was true that the United States supplies Kyiv’s forces with military intelligence “to help Ukrainians defend their country”.
“We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military,” Kirby said.
The New York Times reported late Wednesday that intelligence provided by the US has helped the Ukrainian military target and kill several Russian generals since Moscow’s invasion.
Citing anonymous senior US officials, the newspaper said that of the approximately dozen Russian generals killed by Ukrainian forces, “many” had been targeted with the help of US intelligence.
The White House National Security Council slammed the Times’s report as “irresponsible”.
“The United States provides battlefield intelligence to help the Ukrainians defend their country,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. “We do not provide intelligence with the intent to kill Russian generals.”
May 5, 11:55pm: Zelensky says Mariupol evacuation continued Thursday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the evacuation of civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol had continued on Thursday but did not say how many people had managed to leave.
In a video address, Zelensky also said Russian forces were still storming and shelling the city’s Azovstal steel plant, where civilians and military forces are sheltering.
Zelensky also said Russia’s invasion has devastated hundreds of hospitals and other institutions and left doctors without drugs to tackle cancer or the ability to perform surgery. He said many places lacked even basic antibiotics in eastern and southern Ukraine, the focal points of the fighting.