May 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Jack Guy, George Ramsay, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Aditi Sangal and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:54 AM ET, Fri May 6, 2022
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7:55 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Russian oligarch's $300 million yacht seized by Fijian authorities at US request

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and Lindsay Isaac

 A $300 million yacht belonging to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov was seized by Fijian authorities on Thursday at the request of the United States Department of Justice. 

“Fijian law enforcement executed a seizure warrant freezing the Motor Yacht Amadea (the Amadea), a 348-foot luxury vessel owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov,” a news release from the Department of Justice said.

The Fijian authorities acting with the FBI were following a seizure warrant issued by Washington “which found that the Amadea is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), money laundering and conspiracy,” according to the statement. 

"Kerimov and those acting on his behalf and for his benefit caused US dollar transactions to be routed through U.S. financial institutions for the support and maintenance of the Amadea.”

The seizure was orchestrated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force run out of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, focused on enforcing the “the sweeping sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.” 

Kerimov has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control who designated him as “part of a group of Russian oligarchs who profit from the Russian government through corruption and its malign activity around the globe, including the occupation of Crimea,” the Department of Justice added. 

In doing so, the Treasury also identified him as an official of the Government of the Russian Federation and a member of the Russian Federation Council which is the upper house of Russian parliament. He is the owner of Nafta Moscow, a Russian financial group. Kerimov and his family have an estimated net worth of $9.8 billion, according to the European Union.  

The UK has also sanctioned Kerimov for his decision to vote in favor of laws endorsing President Putin’s decision to recognize the breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.  

He was also placed on the EU’s list of sanctioned individuals for attending on Feb. 24 “a meeting of oligarchs at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin to discuss the impact of the course of action in the wake of Western sanctions.” The EU contended that Kerimov’s attendance at said meeting shows that he is “a member of the inner circle of oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine.” 

US Attorney General Merrick Garland stressed that the US court ruling “should make clear that there is no hiding place for the assets of individuals who violate US laws.” 

“This yacht seizure should tell every corrupt Russian oligarch that they cannot hide – not even in the remotest part of the world. We will use every means of enforcing the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine,” warned US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. 

3:07 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Russian forces have made "some small progress" in Donbas region of Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russian forces have made “some small progress, particularly in the north part of the Donbas,” region of Ukraine, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing on Thursday.

This small progress is not the progress that the US believes Russian forces “expected to make at this point,” in the region, Kirby added.

“In the Donbas region, we would still assess that Ukrainians are putting up a very stiff resistance. And that the Russians have not made the progress that we believe they expected to make at this point. That���s not to say they haven’t made any progress,” he said.

2:32 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

NATO could increase presence around Baltic Sea and Swedish borders during potential Swedish application

From CNN's Henrik Pettersson and Niamh Kennedy 

NATO could increase its presence around the Baltic Sea and Swedish borders if Sweden decides to apply for membership of the alliance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday. 

When asked during an interview with Swedish public broadcaster SVT how NATO would protect Sweden during the potential application process, Stoltenberg said:

"There are different ways to do it. But I am convinced that we will find solutions for the security needs Sweden will have in a transitional period from the time Sweden applies until it becomes a member."

Stoltenberg stressed that "from the moment" Sweden decides to apply and NATO says it wants Sweden to join, "there is a very strong commitment from NATO to be able to guarantee Sweden’s security."

"We have different ways of marking it, including through increased presence of NATO and NATO forces in the area around Sweden and the Baltic Sea," the secretary general continued. 

Finland and Sweden are both considering potential applications to the alliance following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told a press conference on April 29 that no decision on membership will made before May 13, when an analysis report from the Swedish parliament on membership is set to be delivered. 

Finland's membership decision also hinges on a government security report. A senior Western diplomat said Thursday that the Finnish Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to draft a response on the Finnish government’s security report as early as May 11. 

CNN's Lauren Kent, Nic Robertson, James Frater and Arnaud Siad contributed to this report.

3:00 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Second stage of the Azovstal evacuation has begun, Donetsk military governor says

From Chris Liakos and Tim Lister

Smoke rises from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 5.
Smoke rises from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 5. (AP Photo)

The second stage of the evacuation from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has begun, the military governor of the Donetsk region told CNN. But he retained a tone of caution about whether it will yield results.

“I can say that the second stage of the evacuation measures and the evacuation operation has begun but I don’t want to say anything in advance, I would rather inform the public when it’s completed, when the special operation has yielded results," said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk oblast military administration.

“The Russian federation does everything sometimes in a way that these agreements keep changing, so I would rather speak of results of the second stage in evacuation,” Kyrylenko said in explaining why he remained cautious.

The Donetsk military governor said that since last night heavy artillery bombarded the steel plant “with systemic strikes,” adding that “there was a breakthrough into the grounds of Azovstal.”

Around 200 civilians remain inside Azovstal according to information, Kyrylenko said.

2:36 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Germany announces $130 million more in humanitarian aid for Ukraine

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on May 5.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on May 5. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

Germany will support Ukraine with a further $130 million in humanitarian aid, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in a video message during a donor conference in Warsaw.  

The money will ''help strengthen Ukrainian resistance to the Russian attacks.” Scholz also said he intends to provide Ukraine with another $147 million for development financing.  

"With every day that passes since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with every atrocity committed by Russian soldiers, our resolve and our unity only grows stronger," Scholz said. "We are firmly determined: Putin must not win this war. And he will not win it."  

For years, Germany has been the second largest donor of financial assistance to Ukraine, Scholz said. 

In a press statement released by Germany's government, Scholz said that in early April, Germany pledged 425 million euros for humanitarian aid and development cooperation, as well as 70 million euros for medical supplies through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. In addition, Germany had provided another 430 million euros to mitigate the catastrophic consequences that the Russian war is having on global food security.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who also attended the conference, called for a “modern version” of the Marshall Plan for reconstruction. Zelensky said in order to return to a secure life, his country would require money, technology, specialists and prospects for growth.

"This will be an investment in the stability of all of Central and Eastern Europe," Zelensky said, according to the German government's press statement. 

2:24 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

It's nighttime in Ukraine. Catch up on the latest here

Here's everything we know about the battle for Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant and other developments in Ukraine.

Mariupol: Heavy fighting continues inside the Azovstal steel complex, according to a Ukrainian commander inside the ruins. He claimed the Russians had broken their pledge to allow civilians to leave through evacuation corridors Thursday.

Ukrainian forces "repelled" Russian troops at the plant when they entered, according to a Ukrainian presidential adviser, while the Kremlin dismissed reports that the Russian army had broken into the territory of the plant, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to avoid storming it was still in place.

Another joint United Nations and Red Cross evacuation convoy is attempting to get to the Azovstal plant in Mariupol by Friday morning. The UN said it's unclear how many people remain in the plant, while Ukrainian authorities put the number in the hundreds.

Grain stolen from farmers: Sources said Russian troops are stealing farm equipment and thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers, as well as targeting food storage sites with artillery. Ukraine's defense ministry said Thursday an estimated 400,000 tons of grain had been stolen to date.

Supplies from Russia and Ukraine together account for almost 30% of global wheat trade, with experts predicting the war could lead to a food crisis.

Lavrov's Hitler comments: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had apologized for comments that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made earlier this week about Adolf Hitler and Jews.

Putin’s office earlier issued its own readout of the call which made no mention of an apology or of Lavrov’s comments, which included the baseless claim that Hitler had Jewish ancestors.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Lavrov should publicly apologize to all Jews around the world for his statements.

War crimes testimony: Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova testified at the hearings of the Helsinki Commission on alleged war crimes of Russia in Ukraine. She claimed to the US governmental commission that the Russian army had committed more than 9,800 war crimes in 70 days of war.

New lines of energy: Germany marked the start of construction work on Thursday for its first floating terminals for liquified natural gas in Wilhelmshaven, a city and port located in Lower Saxony. The construction is part of the country’s efforts to become independent of Russian gas in the wake of the war. 

Meanwhile, Japan's prime minister said the country will be utilizing nuclear reactors and renewables to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

1:50 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

UN says it's unclear how many people remain in Mariupol region and the Azovstal plant

From CNN's Samantha Beech

Flames and smoke rise from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5.
Flames and smoke rise from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5. (EyePress News/Reuters)

The spokesperson of the United Nations secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, said it’s not clear how many civilians remain in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday, Dujarric referred to the gathering of information out of the region as “extremely challenging.”

“It’s in the middle of an active war zone. parts of it have been destroyed; there are people living in tunnels,” Dujarric said. “It is very difficult for us to have an exact number. We are continuing working in partnership, of course hand-in-glove, with the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and dealing with the highest levels of both Ukraine and Russia to get more people out of the Mariupol region as well as the plant.”

Earlier, the United Nations Special Envoy for Ukraine Martin Griffiths said another convoy is hoping to reach the Azovstal plant Friday morning.

Those who have been evacuated from the plant require immediate support following the “trauma” they have experienced, the Dujarric added. 

“The situation continues to be extremely, extremely dire for civilians. I think what we’re seeing from the people that have come out is not only some of them are in need obviously of medical help. … They’re dehydrated, they lack food. But the psychological impact that these people have to deal with, the trauma they have lived, that is something they need immediate support for and they will likely need support for in the weeks ahead,” Dujarric said. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol and surrounding areas to Zaporizhzhia Wednesday.

Russia said it would open evacuation corridors from the Azovstal plant Thursday — but the Ukrainian commander inside the complex says Russians had broken their pledge to allow civilians to leave as the fierce combat continues.

2:07 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Zelensky asked the UK for longer-range weaponry during call with prime minister 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Lauren Kent

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a press conference on April 23, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a press conference on April 23, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the need for weaponry to prevent “civilian bombardment” during a conversation with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Thursday. 

“The leaders discussed developments on the battlefield and the Ukrainian armed forces’ requirements, including the provision of longer-range weaponry to prevent the bombardment of civilians," a Downing Street readout of the call said. 

The Azovstal steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol where soldiers and civilians have been sheltering from Russian attack for weeks has been subjected to bombardment this week. Video from the interior ministry of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) administration was geo-located by CNN to the Azovstal steel plant with CNN analysis dating the damage to this week. 

During the call, Johnson also reiterated the UK's commitment to support Ukraine in efforts to gather evidence on war crimes, Downing Street added.

Finally, the two leaders discussed Johnson's address to the Ukrainian parliament earlier this week. Zelensky tweeted that he thanked the prime minister. Downing Street's readout said Zelensky told Johnson that the reaction had been “heartfelt, demonstrating the importance of the UK’s support for Ukraine."

CNN's Anastasia Graham Yooll and Katie Polglase contributed reporting to this post.

1:36 p.m. ET, May 5, 2022

Israel says Putin apologized to Prime Minister Bennett over Lavrov's comments about Hitler

From CNN’s Hadas Gold in Jerusalem

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on April 27, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on April 27, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Contributor/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had apologized for comments that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made earlier this week about Hitler and Jews – comments which led to a furious war of words between Russia and Israel.

“The Prime Minister accepted President Putin's apology for Lavrov's remarks and thanked him for clarifying the President's attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said in an official statement.

Putin’s office earlier issued its own readout of the call which made no mention of an apology or of Lavrov’s comments, which included the baseless claim that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestors. 

According to the Kremlin, Putin and Bennet also discussed the situation in Ukraine, including the evacuation of civilians from the territory of the Azovstal plant. Putin said that the Russian military was ready to ensure the safe exit of civilians from the Azovstal, according to the Kremlin. He stressed that Kyiv should order the “militants to lay down their arms.”

The readouts from Moscow and Jerusalem largely agreed on the other subjects that the two leaders talked about in a phone call marking Israel’s Independence Day. 

CNN has asked Putin’s spokesperson if the Russian president apologized to Bennett.

CNN's Katharina Krebs contributed reporting to this post.