Mariupol officials say there is "chance" of evacuation Sunday
From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister
There is a "chance" to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol on Sunday, Mariupol's city council has announced.
It urges people to gather at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) near a shopping center called "Port City" in order to evacuate them to the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.
"If you have relatives or acquaintances in Mariupol, try to contact them by all ways. Call, text and say that it is possible to go to Zaporozhzhia, where it is safe," the Council said on Telegram.
"We pray that everything works," it added.
A local telegram channel said earlier that through 3 p.m. local time a "green corridor" would be open for citizens wishing to enter territory "controlled by the enemy in the Kamensky district."
There are about 100,000 people still in Mariupol, even though most of the city has been severely damaged by weeks of shelling and airstrikes by Russian forces.
Some context: Mariupol is home to the Azovstal steel plant, which has been subjected to heavy Russian bombardment in recent weeks. Hundreds of people, dozens of whom are injured, are thought to be inside the steel-making complex.
Earlier Sunday, Russian state news agencies said that 46 civilians had been evacuated from the vicinity of the plant, quoting the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Their reports followed comments from a a Ukrainian commander inside the plant who said some civilians have been evacuated from the steel works after the introduction of a ceasefire.
It was hoped that these civilians, all women and children, would go to the "agreed destination" of Zaporizhzhia, Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar said.
6:48 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022
Ukrainian family displaced twice in eight years by Russian forces
From CNN's Natalie Gallón and Maryna Marukhnych
As hundreds of evacuees arrived overnight at a processing center for internally displaced persons in the southern city of Kryvyi Rih, for one family it was an all-too-familiar experience.
For the second time in eight years, a Ukrainian family had been forced to flee their home, they told CNN.
Having lost their home in Crimea when Russia captured and annexed the territory in 2014, they moved north to Kherson.
Yet when Kherson was taken by Russia in the first week of March, the family were once again forced to abandon their home and flee north, this time to Kryvyi Rih.
They joined the 500 evacuees who arrived overnight at the city's Narodnyi Dim processing center, a CNN team was told.
The center has been open and supporting evacuees since the start of the war, with around 50,000 people registering and transiting through, said the center's acting head Natalya Patrusheva.
Spread over two floors, neat racks of clothes hold everything from small items for babies to clothing for adults. The CNN team saw boxes of food and other basic supplies piled up against the walls.
After being processed, evacuees are assisted by volunteers. Some evacuees move on by train to Lviv, in the far west of Ukraine, while others travel on by bus to cities such as Odesa, Vinnytsia, and Khmelnytskyi.
Some context: Over 7.7 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine after being forced to flee their homes by Russia's invasion, according to a report by the International Organization for Migration published last month.
According to the third Ukraine Internal Displacement Report, published April 21, the number of internally displaced people in Ukraine has risen to at least 17.5% – or more than one in six – of Ukraine’s pre-war population.
With more than 5 million refugees having left Ukraine for neighboring countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a total of at least 12.7 million people have been left displaced since the beginning of the Russian invasion in late February.
Pelosi says "America stands with Ukraine" after meeting Zelensky in Kyiv
From CNN's Radina Gigova and DJ Judd
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she traveled to Kyiv on Saturday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and send "a clear message to the world that America stands with Ukraine."
Pelosi led the first official US congressional delegation to visit the country since Russia's invasion began more than two months ago.
"America stands with Ukraine, we stand with Ukraine until victory is won, and we stand with NATO," Pelosi told reporters in Rzeszow, Poland, after leaving Ukraine.
Pelosi said that she and Zelensky discussed humanitarian and financial assistance during her visit, which lasted just over three hours. She said it was "a great honor" to meet with Zelensky and "to convey to him a message of unity from the US Congress and a message of appreciation."
US President Joe Biden told reporters late Sunday morning that he had yet to speak with the Speaker about her trip.
7:08 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022
Photos: Nancy Pelosi’s historic meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky
From CNN's Xueying Chang
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived with a Congressional delegation to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 30.
Pelosi, second in line to the presidency after the Vice President, becomes the most senior United States official to visit Ukraine since the war broke out more than two months ago.
Here is a selection of images from the historic meeting.
6:06 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022
The story behind the medal Zelensky awarded to Pelosi
From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave Nancy Pelosi a few symbolic tokens on her trip to Kyiv on Saturday, thanking the US House Speaker for her support of Ukraine.
Zelensky awarded Pelosi with "the Order of Princess Olga" for her "significant personal contribution" to strengthening Ukrainian and American ties. Olga was the first woman to rule Kievan Rus, the first East Slavic state. The order bearing her name is awarded to women who have achieved significant success in politics and society -- the personification in Ukraine of female strength.
He also gave Pelosi a Ukrainian flag that he and female members of parliament, including those she met with at the US Capitol recently, had signed, according to Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill.
6:14 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022
Why the timing of Pelosi's trip to Kyiv matters
From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unannounced trip to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky comes as the United States and its allies are stepping up long-term support to Ukraine as Russia's invasion stretches into its third month.
I am grateful to you for this signal of strong support from the United States, the people and the Congress — bicameral and bipartisan support. I, as the President, our team and the people of Ukraine highly appreciate this signal. This shows that the United States today is a leader in strong support for Ukraine during the war against the aggression of the Russian Federation," Zelensky said, according to a statement published by the president's office.
Last week, responding to pleas from Zelensky, a group of 40 nations gathered by the US in Germany agreed to streamline and expedite the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. "We've got to move at the speed of war," said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who met with Ukraine's president in Kyiv with Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week.
The House on Thursday passed legislation that would allow Biden to use a World War II-era law, known as the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, to swiftly supply weapons to Ukraine on loan. That law was originally created to help forces fighting Hitler, and reflects the urgency in Congress to support the Ukrainian armed forces.
President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress for an additional $33 billion aimed at supporting Ukraine over the next several months as Russia's brutal and unrelenting war enters a new phase. Biden also outlined a proposal that would further pressure Russian oligarchs over the war in Ukraine, including using money from their seized assets to fund Ukraine's defense.
The package is significantly larger than the other packages that have been put forward, and is more than twice as much as the $13.6 billion infusion of military and humanitarian aid that Congress approved last month.
Zelensky stressed the importance of the financial assistance in his meeting with Pelosi.
The signals that the United States and President Biden are giving today are very important. These are recent strong steps in defense and financial support for Ukraine, as well as decisions on Lend-Lease - we are grateful for that," Zelensky said.
The visit by Pelosi, who is second in line to succeed the president, signals a significant measure of commitment to supporting Ukraine from the most senior level of US leadership.
Read more about America's financial assistance to Ukraine here:
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.
Palamar said 20 women and children had been taken to the "agreed meeting point," in the hope that they would be evacuated to the "agreed destination" of Zaporizhzhia, a Ukrainian-controlled city in the country's southeast.
Some context: With the plant subjected to heavy Russian bombardment over the past several weeks, there are thought to be hundreds of people -- dozens of whom are injured -- inside the steel complex.
Yuriy Ryzhenkov, CEO of Metinvest Holding that owns the plant, told CNN Friday that at least 150 of the plant's 11,000 employees have been killed and thousands remain unaccounted for.
Harrowing footage shared by Ukrainian soldiers last week, said to be filmed in the vast network of tunnels under the plant, showed women and children living underground in a dark, damp basement.
In the videos, 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 show must go on: The opera house putting on shows as war rages in Ukraine
From CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Isa Soares, Madalena Araujo, and Oleksandra Ochman
With the audience waiting eagerly in its seats, a familiar message echoes through the hall, reminding patrons to turn off phones and immerse themselves in the experience.
It's immediately followed by a more abnormal announcement. "Dear guest, our event will be suspended in case of air raid alert. Dancers and spectators must go to the bomb shelter situated in the theater," it tells the crowd -- a poignant reminder that this is not a regular night at the theater.
Then the lights dim, the orchestra begins to play, and a dancer appears on stage from the wings.
"One way or another, the war affects us all ... We understand that light must defeat darkness, that life must defeat death, and the mission of the theater is to assert this," the opera's artistic director, Vasyl Vovkun, told CNN.
The Western Ukrainian city of Lviv has emerged almost entirely unscathed, despite devastating conflict elsewhere in the country.
With Lviv residents slowly learning to live with the war, Vovkun said providing a place of solace amid the raging conflict is the driving force behind resuming shows.
Vovkun opened with "Giselle," a well-performed ballet classic that tells the story of a beautiful peasant girl who dies prematurely after being betrayed by the man she loves.
"Giselle also has all shades of joy and sadness, there is also death and there is also the victory of love. And in fact, this topic is consistent today. Even when we hear a lot about death, we still hope, both in this work and in life, that love will win, life will win," Vovkun explained.
Despite the show's sell-out popularity, many seats remain empty as the theater's bomb shelter can only hold 300 people.
Daryna Kirik, the 21-year-old who plays the lead role of "Giselle," has seen her life upended by the war and the horrors of Bucha, where mass graves were recently found.
"Dancing helps to distract from what's happening ... Most of my relatives are in Kyiv and Kyiv region now. My mom and my grandmother and her sister survived occupation in Bucha. My mother managed to evacuate herself and the pets. Now she is in safety in Poland restoring her nerves," Kirik said.
The crowd is captivated with every leap, lift and arabesque. It is only a two-hour show, yet for a time the audience is transported away from the chaos of reality.
"After you visit this place, you understand that life can't be defeated. Our life can't be bombed, or destroyed by missiles or chemical or nuclear weapons," says Victoria Palamarchuk, a 50-year-old journalist, currently staying with extended family in Lviv after leaving her home in the central Zhytomyr region.
With a warm smile, she adds: "Life can't be defeated while such places exist -- theaters, opera, and ballet theaters -- while people are coming here and feel joy with these sounds."
Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Isa Soares, Madalena Araujo, Oleksandra Ochman, CNN; Photographs by: Serhii Korovayny for CNN
5:25 a.m. ET, May 1, 2022
Pelosi leads first official US delegation to Ukraine since war began
From CNN’s Michelle Watson
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an unannounced trip to the Ukrainian capital on Saturday, becoming the most senior United States official to meet with President Volodymr Zelensky since the war broke out more than two months ago.
Pelosi's office confirmed the trip in a statement on Sunday, saying that the Speaker had led an official congressional delegation to Ukraine -- the first since Russia's invasion.
Zelensky shared a video on Sunday of their meeting in Kyiv, and thanked the US for its powerful support of Ukraine against Russian aggression.
"We are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom, that we're on a frontier of freedom and that your fight is a fight for everyone," Pelosi said to Zelensky in the clip. "And so our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done."
The trip to Kyiv by Pelosi, who is second in line to succeed the president, signals a significant measure of commitment to supporting Ukraine from the most senior level of US leadership.
"Our Congressional Delegation had the solemn opportunity and extraordinary honor of meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian officials in Kyiv,” according to the news release.
“Our delegation conveyed our respect and gratitude to President Zelenskyy for his leadership and our admiration of the Ukrainian people for their courage in the fight against Russia’s oppression.”
Pelosi was joined by several other senior members of Congress, including Gregory Meeks of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
"When we return to the United States, we will do so further informed, deeply inspired and ready to do what is needed to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world," the release ends.