May 3, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Ben Church, Ed Upright, Sana Noor Haq, Jessie Yeung, Andrew Raine and Helen Regan, CNN

Updated 12:09 AM ET, Wed May 4, 2022
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12:06 a.m. ET, May 4, 2022

Our coverage of the war in Ukraine has moved here.

11:56 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Russian soldier allegedly says more lives lost in Ukraine than in 4 years of fighting in Chechnya

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey

A Ukrainian man climbs over a destroyed Russian tank near Makariv, Ukraine on May 2.
A Ukrainian man climbs over a destroyed Russian tank near Makariv, Ukraine on May 2. (Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russian forces have lost more lives in Ukraine than in four years in Chechnya, a Russian soldier said in an audio clip that Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) claims was an intercepted communication between the soldier and his friend.

CNN has not verified the authenticity of the audio. The SBU did not provide further details on the soldier speaking in the audio file or how it was intercepted.

In the audio, the Russian soldier expressed discontent that the elite members of RosGvardia, Putin’s National Guard, and OMON, the Special Police Force, have left Ukraine.

“They are f***ing unnecessary. They’re going back because they’re making scenes about not wanting to keep going,” he says.
“All of these special forces ‘f***ing awesome’ fighters we had, all of them pulled back, f***ing fled to Russia, and refuse to keep going further,” he continued.

 

Even the elite enemy units can't stand the pressure of Ukrainian defenders," the SBU said in a statement on social media.

Some context: The exact number of Russian troops that have been killed in Ukraine remains unclear.

NATO officials in March claimed that up to 15,000 troops had died in the fighting.

The Russian government has not provided updates. However, in mid-March, the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda published — then later removed — a report that the Russian Ministry of Defense had recorded 9,861 Russian Armed Forces deaths in the war.

9:40 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Four planned humanitarian corridors to Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday "if safety situation allows"

Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, announced four planned humanitarian corridors to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday “if the safety situation allows.”

The humanitarian corridors are planned from Mariupol, Lunacharske Circle, Tokmak and Vasylivka, Vereshchuk said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Tuesday that 156 people arrived to Zaporizhzhia from the besieged Azovstal steel plant and surrounding areas in Mariupol by evacuation corridors.

"I am grateful to all of those on whom the salvation of these people depended. Who agreed and who helped. I am grateful to everyone who provided physical movement of people through the humanitarian corridor," he said.
8:57 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Ukrainians strike Russian positions in Oleksandrivka, newly released video shows

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Tim Lister

A drone video shows a smoldering Russian military vehicle in Oleksandrivka, Ukraine.
A drone video shows a smoldering Russian military vehicle in Oleksandrivka, Ukraine. (Courtesy Ukrainian Armed Forces)

The Ukrainian military took out a number of Russian military vehicles in Oleksandrivka, south southeast of Russian-occupied Izium, newly released video from the Ukrainian Armed Forces shows.

The armed forces did not disclose where, or when, the video was taken. CNN verified its authenticity, and has geolocated it to Oleksandrivka, a small village in the Donestk oblast.

Sensory satellite data from NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System has detected a number of fires in the village, and around the area, since April 27.

In the drone video, there are a number of smoldering Russian military vehicles.

In a Sunday briefing posted on Telegram, the Ukraine Armed Forces said Russian forces were moving south from the Kharkiv oblast and into Oleksandrivka.

According to briefing, the Russians were attempting to advance on Lyman, a strategic and heavily contested city just south of the village.

In recent weeks, the Russian military has conducted repeated military strikes on Lyman, including on its railroad infrastructure.

The Russian Ministry of Defense also admitted to military activity near Oleksandrivka, saying in a Monday briefing posted to Telegram that they targeted the area around the village with missiles.

8:55 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Russian-backed separatist region opens criminal case against British, Moroccan nationals fighting for Ukraine

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Josh Pennington

The prosecutor's office for the Russian-backed Donetsk People's Republic announced Monday it has opened a criminal case against two British men and a Moroccan national who were captured while allegedly fighting for Ukraine.

CNN previously reported British citizens Sean Pinner and Aidan Daniel John Mark Aslin were captured by Russian forces in mid-April in Mariupol.

A third man, a Moroccan citizen, also appears to have been captured, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The three are being investigated for "committing a crime by a group of people, forcible seizure of power or forcible keeping of power and mercenary activity,” the prosecutor’s office alleges. Prosecutors claim the three acted as mercenaries and conducted military operations against the separatist republic.

The three remain in custody, the prosecutor's office said.

Pinner and Aslin's families previously told CNN the two were serving with the Ukrainian Marines and were not mercenaries.

7:52 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Ukrainians strike Russian positions on Snake Island with military drone, video shows

From CNN’s Paul P. Murphy and Tim Lister

A strike targeting a communications tower on Snake Island is seen in a drone video.
A strike targeting a communications tower on Snake Island is seen in a drone video. (Courtesy Ukrainian Armed Forces Southern Operation Command)

The Ukrainian Armed Forces say they hit at least two Russian military positions on Russian-occupied Snake Island purportedly using a Bayraktar UAV, a military drone.

It’s unclear what date the Ukrainian military strikes were conducted, but the video was posted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces Southern Operation Command on Tuesday.

CNN has geolocated the video showing the strikes and verified its authenticity.

The military strikes appear to have targeted an area between a building and a communications tower, and another area that appears to have contained ammunition or another explosive. A number of explosions are seen after the initial one in the second area.

Snake Island, and the Ukrainian border guards on it, gained significant notoriety at the beginning of the Russian invasion when the island was targeted by Russian soldiers and the Ukrainian guards refused to surrender.

8:04 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

President Zelensky: 156 people arrived in Zaporizhzhia from areas near Mariupol

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey and Mariya Knight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a nightly video address.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a nightly video address. (From Office of President of Ukraine)

In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 156 people arrived to Zaporizhzhia from the Azovstal steel plant and surrounding areas in Mariupol by evacuation corridors on Tuesday.

“I am grateful to all of those on whom the salvation of these people depended. Who agreed and who helped. I am grateful to everyone who provided physical movement of people through the humanitarian corridor,” he said.

“We will continue to do everything to get all our people out of Mariupol and Azovstal. It's difficult. But we need everyone who stays there: civilians and soldiers,” he said. 

Zelensky also accused Russian troops of not adhering to the ceasefire and continuing strikes on the Azovstal steel plant.

6:34 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Ukrainians destroyed a number of Russian military vehicles in the Kharkiv oblast, drone footage shows 

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Tim Lister

Ukrainian military strikes, captured on drone footage, destroyed a number of Russian military vehicles in the village of Sulyhivka — about 11 miles or 18 kilometers — south of Izium in the Kharkiv oblast.

CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the footage, which was first uploaded to Telegram on Monday. When the footage was taken is unclear.

However, in two situation updates posted to Telegram on Saturday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Kharkiv regional military administrator Oleg Sinegubov noted that Russian forces had tried to advance near the village.

Both said that Ukrainian forces had repelled the Russian assault, but Sinegubov claimed the Russians had sustained heavy losses.

There's been heavy fighting in the area for several weeks, as Ukrainian forces try to resist a large armored offensive from the Izium area south and west towards Sloviansk. The video indicates that Ukrainian artillery fire and attack drones continue to degrade Russian armor.

6:33 p.m. ET, May 3, 2022

Leader of Russian-backed separatist region of Donetsk visits Mariupol

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Mariya Knight

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist region of Donetsk visits Mariupol.
Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist region of Donetsk visits Mariupol. (Courtesy Donetsk People's Republic)

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist region of Donetsk, is the first known high-ranking official — Russian or Russian-backed — to visit the besieged Ukrainian city.  

He is seen in photos, posted on his official Telegram channel, posing near the Illich metallurgical plant, located in northern Mariupol, and on a ship in the Port of Mariupol, located in the southern area of the city. 

It's unclear from the photos when the trip actually took place, but given that the Russian forces have solidified their control of the city within the last week, it's likely to have taken place during that time.

It does not appear from the photos that Pushilin traveled anywhere near the Azovstal steel plant, the last remaining stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the city.

His trip to the city is the first major sign of the impending Russification of it. Pushilin is expected to oversee the city being that it's in the Donetsk region.