May 4, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Adrienne Vogt, Brad Lendon, Andrew Raine, Jack Guy and Ben Church, CNN

Updated 12:11 AM ET, Thu May 5, 2022
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1:57 a.m. ET, May 4, 2022

Australia imposes more sanctions on Ukrainian separatists and Russian officials 

From CNN's Lizzy Yee in Hong Kong 

Russian lawmakers attend a session of the State Duma in Moscow, in this file photo from Feb. 22.
Russian lawmakers attend a session of the State Duma in Moscow, in this file photo from Feb. 22. (Handout/Reuters)

Australia imposed further sanctions and travel bans against members of Russia’s parliament and Ukrainian separatists on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The new listings will target 110 individuals, including 34 "senior members of the Russian-led movements" in Donetsk and Luhansk.

"These individuals have violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine through their assertion of governmental authority over areas of Ukraine without the Ukrainian Government’s authorization," the statement said. 

Among those sanctioned are also 76 members of the State Duma, Russia’s parliament. The sanctioned individuals voted "to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter said the US had "highly credible" intelligence reports that Russia will try to annex the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk “sometime in mid-May.”

Russian politician Oleg Matveichev was also sanctioned by Australia “for the dissemination of disinformation and propaganda.” 

“With these announced listings, the Government will have sanctioned 812 individuals and 47 entities in response to Russia’s illegal war,” the statement said. “Australia reiterates our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for the people of Ukraine.”

Some background: Australia is one of a number of countries, including the United States, that have been continually imposing fresh sanctions on Russia since the invasion began. On April 14, Australia sanctioned 14 Russian state-owned enterprises of "strategic and economic importance."

12:20 a.m. ET, May 4, 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.

12:57 a.m. ET, May 4, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

(Francisco Seco/AP)
(Francisco Seco/AP)

Russian forces launched attacks on several targets that appear related to the transport of military equipment in Ukraine. They included three railway power substations damaged by missile strikes in the western city of Lviv, a local official said.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine military released videos showing the destruction of Russian military vehicles in the eastern Donetsk region and in the Kharkiv oblast as well as an attack on an apparent Russian military position on Snake Island in the Black Sea.

Here's what you need to know:

Four evacuation corridors planned: Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, announced four planned evacuation corridors to the city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday "if the safety situation allows." They will allow evacuations from Mariupol, Lunacharske Circle, Tokmak and Vasylivka, Vereshchuk said. President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Tuesday that 156 people had arrived in Zaporizhzhia from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Mariupol visit by a high-level Russian-backed official: Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Russian-backed separatist region of Donetsk, has become the first known high-ranking official — Russian or Russian-backed — to visit the besieged Ukrainian city, according to photos posted on his Telegram channel. The visit is the first major sign of the impending Russification of Mariupol.

At least 290 civilian bodies found in Irpin since Russian withdrawal: The bodies of 290 civilians have been recovered in the town of Irpin, outside of Kyiv, since the withdrawal of Russian forces, Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushin said Tuesday. Markushin said 185 of the dead have been identified and most were men. "Shrapnel and gunshot wounds" were the causes of death.

US hoping to attract highly skilled Russians: US President Joe Biden has asked the US Congress to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to make it easier for highly educated Russians to obtain visas to work in the US. Tens of thousands of highly educated Russians have reportedly fled Russia since the war, and the US administration is hoping to take advantage of that brain drain, officials said. 

Biden administration says it won't allow Russia to "co-opt" Victory Day: White House National Security Council senior director for Europe Amanda Sloat told CNN the Biden administration does not want to allow Putin to "co-opt" Monday’s Victory Day by tying it to the invasion of Ukraine. She declined to weigh in on intelligence indicating Putin may use the holiday to rally support for his invasion of Ukraine, including possible steps to formally declare war on its neighbor or annex the Donbas and Luhansk regions.

Two-hour call between Macron and Putin: French President Emmanuel Macron had a call with Putin that lasted over two hours, the Élysée Palace said Tuesday. Macron warned Putin of the consequences of the war and called for an end to the “devastating aggression,” it said. Macron also “expressed his deep concern about Mariupol" and the situation in the Donbas region.

Israel-Russia diplomatic dispute: Russia accused Israel of supporting "the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv" Tuesday, raising the stakes in a diplomatic dispute between Moscow and the Jewish state over Ukraine, anti-Semitism and Adolf Hitler. The accusation potentially increases pressure on Israel, which voted in the UN to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has not fully joined Western sanctions on Moscow or supplied Ukraine with weapons.

US classifies WNBA player as "wrongfully detained" in Russia: The US State Department has now classified WNBA player Brittney Griner as wrongfully detained in Russia and her case is now being handled by the office of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, a State Department official confirms to CNN. The SPEHA office leads and coordinates diplomatic efforts aimed at securing the release of Americans wrongfully detained abroad. It played a major role in securing the release of American Trevor Reed from Russia last week

12:00 a.m. ET, May 4, 2022

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

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

They 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.

12:02 a.m. ET, May 4, 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.

9:46 a.m. ET, May 4, 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.

See video of strike here: