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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3:23 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Ukrainian commander inside Mariupol steel plant says evacuations of civilians have begun

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

A satellite image shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, the site of Ukrainians last military holdout which is also serving as a civilian shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29.
A satellite image shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, the site of Ukrainians last military holdout which is also serving as a civilian shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

Some civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol after a ceasefire was introduced, according to a commander in the Azov Regiment, one of the Ukrainian soldiers trapped at the plant.

Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, said the ceasefire, which was supposed to begin at 6 a.m. local time, ended up starting at 11 a.m. local time.

"As of now, it's the truth, both sides follow the ceasefire regime," he said.

The evacuation convoy was very delayed, he said. "Since 6 a.m., we've been waiting for the evacuation convoy to arrive, which only arrived at 6:25 p.m."

"We have brought 20 civilians to the agreed meeting point, whom we've managed to rescue from under the rubble. These are women and children. We hope these people will go the agreed destination, which is Zaporizhzhia, the territory controlled by Ukraine," Palamar said.

"As of now, the rescue operation is ongoing, conducted by the servicemen of Azov - we rescue the civilians from under the rubble," he added.

"These are women, children and the elderly," he said in a video message on the regiment's Telegram channel.

"We hope that this process will be further extended and we will successfully evacuate all civilians," he said.

"As for the wounded — those people who require urgent medical care — it is unclear to us why they are not being evacuated and their evacuation to the territory controlled by Ukraine is not being discussed," he added.
"I emphasize that we ask to guarantee the evacuation not just for civilians but also for our wounded servicemen who require medical care."

TASS, Russia's state news agency, said earlier Saturday that a group of civilians left the steel plant. A correspondent on the scene told TASS that a total of 25 people came out, including six children under the age of 14. CNN cannot independently verify the TASS reporting.

There are thought to be hundreds of people inside the steel complex, including dozens injured during an intense Russian bombardment over the past several weeks. The latest satellite images of the plant show that many of its buildings have been reduced to ruins.

The defenders of the Azovstal plant said that attacks on Wednesday night had hit the makeshift hospital inside the complex, greatly adding to the number of injured. 

Here's what a part of the plant looked like approximately six weeks ago:

A satellite image from March 22 shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, in Mariupol, Ukraine.
A satellite image from March 22 shows an overview of the Azovstal steel plant, in Mariupol, Ukraine.

2:45 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

UN chief briefed Turkish president on his meetings with Putin and Zelensky

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses media representatives during a press conference at a European Union summit at EU Headquarters in Brussels on March 24.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses media representatives during a press conference at a European Union summit at EU Headquarters in Brussels on March 24. (Kenzo Triboullard/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone conversation with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the presidency’s media office said Saturday, where they discussed developments in the war in Ukraine.

Guterres briefed Erdogan about his meetings this week in Moscow and Kyiv, according to a statement from the Turkish Communications Directorate.

During the call, Erdogan said that Turkey is ready to support the UN-led work on both evacuations and humanitarian aid.

Stating that they will continue to encourage both Ukraine and Russia to act in common sense for reconciliation, Erdogan said that they will pursue peace, according to the statement.

Guterres said via Twitter on Friday that the UN would redouble its efforts to save lives and reduce human suffering in Ukraine.

His tweet came after his visit to Ukraine and meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday following a visit to Moscow where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. 

The Turkish president has previously held phone calls with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts with the hope of meeting them both in Istanbul to end the conflict.

Turkey has a unique profile and position, as a NATO member that also has maritime borders with both Ukraine and Russia. Turkey is also Russia's largest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The country has both competed and cooperated with Russia through conflict zones in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh in recent years.

 

2:32 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Multiple explosions reported in Odesa

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova

Ukrainian media and witnesses are reporting multiple explosions in the southern city of Odesa soon after 6 p.m. local time. One witness told CNN that she saw at least one combat plane over the city.

The military's Operational Command (South) said on Telegram that the runway at Odesa's airport had been damaged.

The blasts were heard soon after air raid sirens sounded across the city.

A witness to the explosions told CNN she was about one kilometer (.62 miles) away from the airport when she heard two explosions. She said the attack lasted about 10 minutes and she was still experiencing hearing difficulties because of the noise from the impacts.

2:49 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

It's 7 p.m. in Ukraine and more information about Mariupol is surfacing. Here's what you need to know

An elderly man walks past a heavily damaged apartment building, on April 30, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
An elderly man walks past a heavily damaged apartment building, on April 30, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine, including what we know about the besieged city of Mariupol.

The Azovstal steel plant: 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.

Evacuation routes are reportedly tentative: Russia has been rejecting all evacuation proposals for Mariupol, but now, there are signs of a possible breakthrough in securing at least one evacuation route, Mariupol city council said. Although the council is still waiting for confirmation, its post says the evacuation would be today (Saturday) from Port City, which is a shopping mall.

Russian assault: In other missile and aircraft strikes, Russian forces hit 10 locations housing Ukrainian troops and equipment, the Russian defense ministry said, killing up to 120 soldiers and destroying four tanks and six other armoured vehicles.

12:04 p.m. ET, April 30, 2022

Possible breakthrough in Mariupol evacuation, city council says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova in Lviv

People gather to receive humanitarian aid at the parking lot of a store in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29.
People gather to receive humanitarian aid at the parking lot of a store in Mariupol, Ukraine on April 29. (Andrey Bordulin/AFP/Getty Images)

There are signs of a possible breakthrough in securing at least one evacuation route in the besieged city of Mariupol.

"There is hope for the evacuation of Mariupol residents to territory controlled by Ukraine," Mariupol city council said on its Telegram account.

Although the council is still waiting for confirmation, its post says the evacuation would be today (Saturday) from Port City, which is a shopping mall.

"The occupiers allowed movement between the Left Bank district and other districts of the city on the right bank. The movement is open across the bridge to Mukhino," said Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, on Telegram.

At this stage, it's unclear whether any evacuation would include people trapped at the Azovstal steel plant complex.

Altogether, some 100,000 people are still in Mariupol, a quarter of its pre-war population.

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

Red Cross and UN are involved in evacuation negotiations, Mariupol mayor says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

The United Nations mission and Red Cross are negotiating on securing the evacuation of hundreds of local people who are trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boichenko says.

Speaking on Ukrainian television on Saturday, he urged "all international partners to unite for one goal — to save the lives of the locals, to save the fortress and those locals who are now hiding in the Azovstal bomb shelters."

"The UN mission and Red Cross are negotiating. We are waiting for the results of these talks. We are waiting [to see] that we will get this corridor and save the lives of hundreds of our Mariupol residents," Boichenko said.

The Ukrainian President's office said Friday it had a plan for evacuating Azovstal, but Ukrainian officials later said that the Russians had blocked access to the plant. 

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."