April 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Joe Ruiz, Simone McCarthy, Brad Lendon, Eliza Mackintosh, Sana Noor Haq and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:05 AM ET, Sun May 1, 2022
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9:37 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Russia steps up efforts to rub out Ukrainian identity as Lenin reappears in the southern part of the country

From CNN's Andrew Carey, Yulia Kesaieva, Kostan Nechyporenko and Olga Voitovych 

A popular Ukrainian supermarket in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia announced a grand reopening Saturday under new – Russian – management. It is the latest sign of attempts by Moscow’s occupying forces to rub out Ukrainian identity in territories under its control. 

Formerly, the shop in Melitopol was part of the ATB chain, a Dnipro-based business. But a leaflet posted on a local TV station’s Telegram channel boasts the supermarket is now part of the MERA chain, which is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia. 

The leaflet promises that shoppers spending at least 500 hryvnia (about $16) will be entered into a “super prize draw” – though details of what the winner could take home are not revealed. 

Elsewhere in the region, a large Ukrainian coat of arms has been removed from the front of the mayor’s office in the town of Tokmak. Photos circulating on social media show the distinctive Ukrainian symbol – a yellow trident on a blue background – propped up against the entrance of the building. An earlier photo on the same Telegram channel shows a man up a ladder apparently working to loosen the trident from its place. 

And as if to underline the sense of a clock being turned back, video has emerged from the neighboring region of Kherson — also under Russian occupation — of a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin being re-erected in the town of Nova Kakhovka. 

One video captures the statue of the Russian revolutionary and first leader of the Soviet Union being carried flat on a truck through the city. 

A later photo shows the statue being winched onto a plinth in front of the city council building. 

“While Ukraine is the first in the world to introduce e-passports, ‘orcs’ are restoring Lenin's monument in temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka,” Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister, said in a Telegram post under the photo, using the popular Ukrainian slang term for Russian forces. 

Statues of Vladimir Lenin were a hallmark of towns and cities across the Soviet Union, but many have been removed from Ukrainian locations in recent years as relations with Russia have deteriorated. 

10:49 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Exclusive: Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has been significantly destroyed by Russian strikes, satellite images show

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine is seen in this satellite image taken April 29.
Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine is seen in this satellite image taken April 29. (Maxar Technologies)

Nearly every building on the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol, has been destroyed, new satellite images from Maxar Technologies show.

There are large holes in the roofs — the telltale sign of a military strike. Some roofs are completely collapsed, and some buildings have been reduced to rubble.

Many of the residential and government buildings directly east of the plant have also been completely destroyed.

CNN has previously reported that Ukrainian forces and hundreds of remaining residents have taken refuge in the deep basements at the steel plant. It's unclear from the satellite images taken on Friday whether any of the military strikes have destroyed any of the basement facilities.

Sviatoslav Palamar, an Azov Regiment commander at the plant, told CNN on Friday that the plant has been intensely shelled by artillery, ships and airstrikes.

"There are cellars and bunkers that we cannot reach because they are under rubble," Palamar said. "We do not know whether the people there are alive or not. There are children aged four months to 16 years. But there are people trapped in places that you can't get to."

8:51 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Macron spoke with Zelensky on Saturday, says Elysee Palace

From CNN's Martin Goillandeau in London 

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday, according to a statement by the Elysee Palace. 

"The President of the Republic reaffirmed to President Zelensky his willingness to work actively during his second term of office to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, always maintaining close coordination with his European partners and allies," the statement said, adding that Macron expressed concern about the continued bombing of Ukrainian cities and the "unbearable" situation in Mariupol.

Macron told Zelensky that military support to Ukraine "will continue to grow, as well as the humanitarian assistance provided by France," which so far amounts to more than 615 tons of equipment, including medical supplies, generators for hospitals, food aid, shelter assistance, and emergency vehicles, according to the Elysee. 

Macron also said, "at the request of the Ukrainian authorities, the mission of French experts contributing to the collection of evidence to fight against impunity and allow the work of international justice on crimes committed in the context of Russian aggression, will continue."

10:48 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

In Mariupol steel plant, soldiers share videos of children and mothers desperately awaiting evacuation

From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh in London

The videos show women and children living underground in a dark, damp basement. One mother said they've not seen the sun in weeks and will soon run out of food. An old woman, her head bandaged and bloodied, shivers on a cot. A baby wears a plastic bag fastened with duct tape around its small waist -- there are no diapers left.

The harrowing footage was posted on YouTube by the Azov regiment, a unit of the Ukrainian armed forces, which said it was filmed in the vast network of tunnels underneath the Azovstal steel plant -- Mariupol's last remaining holdout.

Smoke rises above Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on April 18.
Smoke rises above Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on April 18. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

After relentless bombardment by air, sea and sky, Russian troops have taken control of what is left of the rest of the city. Once a thriving port and beloved vacation spot on the Black Sea, much of Mariupol now lies in ruins. The steel plant is the last remaining shelter for hundreds of soldiers and civilians still stuck in the city.

In a clip published last week, a young boy, his cheeks pale, made a heart-wrenching plea for a path out.

I want to get out of here and see the sun. We’ve been here for two months now, and I want to see the sun," he said. "When they rebuild our houses, we can live in peace. Let Ukraine win this war because Ukraine is our dear home."

Increasingly, it seems there is little chance of their rescue.

Myhailo Podoliak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Saturday that Russia was refusing to help save the people of Mariupol and had shown "absolute unwillingness to talk."

The videos shared by the Azov regiment, which are accompanied by pleas for help, give a sense of the desperate situation unfolding for Mariupol residents left behind. In the absence of journalists on the ground -- an Associated Press team, the only Western news media reporting from the city, left in March -- and almost no internet or cell service, the clips posted by Azov to social channels are among few windows into the plight of people trapped in the plant.

On Thursday, Ukrainian officials said Russia had carried out airstrikes on a field hospital within the plant. Mariupol's mayor, Vadym Boichenko, said that more than 600 were injured in the bombing. The attack renewed calls from the United Nations for humanitarian corridors to open up to the city.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking alongside Zelensky in a press conference in Kyiv, said that the besieged city was a "crisis within a crisis" and that the people stranded there were in desperate need of help. According to Guterres, Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed in principle for the involvement of the UN and International Committee of the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from Azovstal. But so far those corridors have not become a reality. Last week, Putin told his defense minister in Moscow that the plant should bee sealed off but not stormed.

Footage and photos shared by the Azov regiment on Friday shows graphic scenes in what is described as the aftermath of the attack on the makeshift hospital in the plant. CNN could not independently verify the location of the videos.

An Azov commander inside the Azovstal steel complex told CNN on Friday that children from 4-months to 16-years-old were trapped inside -- some in cellars and bunkers that are now unreachable because they had been covered by rubble.

We do not know whether the people there are alive or not," he said.

Some background: The Azov regiment was originally formed in 2014 as the Azov Battalion, to defend Mariupol from attack by Russian-backed separatists. When it was created, it was known for having members with nationalist and neo-Nazi leanings, which Russia has cited to justify its war. But since the regiment was integrated into the Ukrainian military, analysts and Ukrainian officials say it has reformed. The unit has played a major role in defending the city in recent weeks and its soldiers have repeatedly pled for civilians to be evacuated from the plant.

10:48 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Mariupol residents face threat of diseases in addition to shelling and lack of food, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Natalya Kalugina, 64, stands in a courtyard near a block of destroyed apartment buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29.
Natalya Kalugina, 64, stands in a courtyard near a block of destroyed apartment buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The residents of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol are facing the threat of diseases, in addition to the shelling by Russian forces and lack of food and water, Ukrainian officials warned Saturday, describing the living conditions in the city as "medieval."

"Cholera, dysentery, and Escherichia coli: about 100,000 Mariupol residents are in mortal danger not only due to shelling but also to intolerable living conditions and unsanitary conditions," reads a post from the Ukrainian Parliament's official Twitter account. 

"The air temperature has already reached 20 degrees. Powerful and deadly epidemics could soon break out in the city – due to the lack of centralized water supply and sanitation, the decomposition of thousands of corpses under the rubble, and a catastrophic shortage of water and food," the parliament said.  

It added, "The occupiers cannot provide the existing population with food, water, and medicine. They block all evacuation attempts. And without that, people will die. Now in the ruined Mariupol, there are medieval living conditions. Immediate and complete evacuation is needed!"

12:34 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

"Russians are trying to annihilate the Ukrainians," says Ukrainian first lady

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Anna Odzeniak

Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska is seen during a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on September 1, 2021.
Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska is seen during a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on September 1, 2021. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska, has said she believes Russia intends to destroy her country.

Speaking in an interview in which she revealed the profound upheavals the conflict has wrought on her family and fellow citizens, Zelenska told Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita that the invasion of Ukraine "completely changed everything, including our lives."

In a remote interview released on April 28, Zelenska said that since the invasion began on February 24, President Volodymyr Zelensky "moved to Bankowa Street (the president's office in Kyiv), at his place of work," while she has stayed with their children. 

"There are no days off from work and no time off in the war. Often, you don't even know the day of the week. There is only what today is, what needs to be done," she added. 

Zelenksa said her children are studying remotely while she works through her initiative with other first ladies, governments of individual countries, activists and volunteers to organize evacuations of sick and orphaned children to safe places. 

When asked if the war has changed her husband, she said: "For some reason, I hear this question a lot. But the war didn't change him."

You have to understand that he has always been like that. He was a man you could rely on. A man who will never fail. Now the whole world has seen what may not have been clear to everyone before."

In response to a question about what she thinks Vladimir Putin wants to achieve in Ukraine, Zelenska said Russia's message keeps evolving and "this leads to the conclusion that their plans are constantly changing or not operating logically. But I don't judge them by declarations but by deeds.

"What the Russian troops are doing in Ukraine leads directly to the conclusion that the Russians are trying to annihilate the Ukrainians, which is their true purpose.

"This conclusion comes to my mind when I see the destruction of Mariupol, from which even safe evacuation through humanitarian corridors was not allowed, when I see the bombing of residential buildings in Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Odesa, the railway station in Kramatorsk, destroyed by a Russian missile, where more than 50 people who tried to leave were killed," she said.

"And of course, I came to this conclusion after the war crimes committed by the Russians in the Kyiv region, where we continue to discover the mass graves of murdered, executed non-combatants, women, and children," she said.

"Yes, I am convinced that the Russians want to destroy us and commit genocide. And it doesn't matter what they say because their words do not match their deeds."

Zelenska added that she is grateful to Poland for helping Ukrainian refugees as they are "looking forward to the most important news -- that we have won and that they can go home."

She added: "I will be happy when I can pass it on to them one day, hopefully as soon as possible." 

7:50 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Russia says its latest aircraft and missile strikes in Ukraine have killed up to 120 soldiers

From CNN's Andrew Carey in Lviv 

Russia says missile strikes have targeted ammunition and fuel depots in eastern Ukraine, as Moscow continues its efforts to capture more territory and possibly encircle Ukrainian forces in the region around the town of Kramatorsk. 

Four such targets were struck near the towns of Barvenkovo, Pokrovskoe, Vozdvizhenka and Berezovoe, according to the Russian defense ministry.

In other missile and aircraft strikes Russian forces hit 10 locations housing Ukrainian troops and equipment, the ministry said, killing up to 120 soldiers and destroying four tanks and six other armoured vehicles, the ministry said in a briefing released on Saturday morning.

Russian artillery units carried out 389 firing missions overnight, targeting among other sites 35 command posts, 33 artillery positions, and 15 missile-artillery weapons and ammunition depots, the ministry added.

Eighteen Ukrainian drones were shot down, among them three Bayraktar TB-2, a Turkish-designed armed drone that has been used to considerable effect by the Ukrainian army against Russian targets.  

Russia has destroyed 142 Ukrainian aircraft and 112 helicopters, 658 drones, 279 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2,656 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 307 multiple launch rocket systems, and 1,189 field artillery and mortar launchers in total, according to the ministry.

CNN is unable to independently verify these numbers. 

10:48 a.m. ET, April 30, 2022

It's 2:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Russia's defense ministry finally confirmed it is using submarines in the Black Sea to carry out cruise missile attacks on Ukrainian targets.

Meanwhile Ukraine says its troops continue to resist Russian attacks on several fronts, despite new evidence that Russian units are making their way across the border.

Here are the latest developments:

Russian submarine launches missiles at Ukraine: Footage released by the Russian defense ministry on Friday purported to show the launch of Kalibr cruise missiles from a diesel submarine somewhere in the Black Sea. "The crew of a diesel-electric submarine of the Black Sea Fleet has launched a salvo of Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea against the military infrastructure of the Ukrainian Armed Forces," the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app. A week ago, the Ukrainian armed forces reported that two dozen units from the Russian fleet were still operating in the Black Sea, including "submarines with missile weapons." On Monday, they added that Russian troops were "launching missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure, including from strategic bombers, ships and submarines."

Ukraine holds off Russian forces amid ramped-up attacks: The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Russian troops are increasing their presence in eastern Ukraine, by bringing in units normally based in Russia's Far East. It said Russian soldiers' latest effort to break through in the Izium area had been resisted, but they continued to press an offensive towards the town of Lyman -- an important railway hub, which was hit by Russian artillery on Friday. The General Staff added there was also heavy fighting around Rubizhne and Popasna, two towns the Russians have been trying to take for several weeks. 

Shelling on Russian border: The bombardment of a village in the Russian region of Bryansk, which borders Ukraine, caused damage but no casualties, according to Governor Alexander Bogomaz. He said in a statement that the village of Zhecha came under fire as air defense systems intercepted a Ukrainian aircraft entering Russian territory. The blast wave from the incident damaged the casing of “technological buildings of the oil terminal” and the surrounding area, Bogomaz said, adding that no one was hurt.

Russia rejects evacuation efforts from Mariupol: Russia is rejecting all evacuation proposals for Mariupol, according to a senior Ukrainian official. Myhailo Podoliak said that Russia is rebuffing efforts to help evacuate people from the besieged port city "because it is symbolic for the enemy to destroy the city and its defenders -- the Azov Regiment." "The president and the head of the president’s office are continuously appealing to world leaders to help us convince the Russian side of the need for a humanitarian corridor from Mariupol," Podoliak said in a statement posted on the governing Servant of the People party's website. He added that the Russians showed "absolute unwillingness to talk" or make concessions.

UK ambassador returns to Kyiv: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked the UK for returning its ambassador to Kyiv. While there has been no official announcement from London that Melinda Simmons is back at work in the Ukrainian capital, she tweeted on Friday, “It was a long drive but worth going the distance. So good to be in Kyiv again.” In his Friday evening video address, Zelensky said the return of Britain’s ambassador meant that diplomatic missions from 27 countries were now operating again in Kyiv. “This is an extremely important gesture of support for Ukraine, and we are grateful to all of them," he said.

Poland sends reinforcements to Ukraine: Poland has sent over 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine over the past few weeks, Polskie Radio, Poland's national public-service radio said Friday, citing IAR news agency. So far, Poland has provided Ukraine with military equipment worth $1.6 billion, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week. In addition to the tanks, Polskie Radio said, equipment also included dozens of infantry fighting vehicles and the 2S1 Carnation self-propelled howitzers, drones, Grad multiple rocket launchers and Piorun (Thunderbolt) man-portable air defense systems. 

12:52 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Mariupol rooster sounds the alarm at evacuation center

From CNN's Oleksandr Fylyppov and Tim Lister in Lviv

When Lyudmila and her husband Anton arrived at an evacuation center in the town of Przemysl on the Polish border with Ukraine, the rooster quickly settled in, wandering the corridors.
When Lyudmila and her husband Anton arrived at an evacuation center in the town of Przemysl on the Polish border with Ukraine, the rooster quickly settled in, wandering the corridors. (From Sasha Pechenka)

The tens of thousands of people who have fled the besieged city of Mariupol have carried what they can on their journeys, including mementoes, heirlooms, cats and dogs. One man is reported to have walked for five days with his dog to reach safety.

Not many have brought with them a prize rooster. But Lyudmila did.

When Lyudmila and her husband Anton arrived at an evacuation center in the town of Przemysl on the Polish border with Ukraine, their rooster quickly settled in by wandering the corridors.

All seemed fine until the next morning -- or 3 a.m. to be precise -- when more than 1,000 people sleeping at the evacuation center were awoken by insistent cackling and crowing.

Sasha Pechenka, a volunteer at the center, told CNN he went looking for the source of the noise. 

"I asked volunteers from England and America: 'Have you seen a rooster here?' In the end, I found this beast."

Normally the unnamed rooster would begin his morning call at 4 a.m., but he had not yet adjusted to the change of time zone.

Sasha said that Lyudmila had told him: "We survived under the bombs with this rooster, because he lived with me. How can I leave my friend after that?"

The next day Lyudmila and Anton moved on, but photographs of the rooster that Sasha took quickly went viral, with one tweet garnering 1.5 million views. 

I am glad that this story has become life-affirming and that in such sad times there are rays of goodness and hope," Sasha said.

Sasha himself is a refugee, from Tajikistan. He said he worked with an opposition politician in Russia and was expelled from the country in 2021. He also worked with several organizations now described by the Russian government as "foreign agents" and "extremist." 

He said he has been working at the Polish-Ukrainian border as a volunteer since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began two months ago.