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May 5, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Ukrainian farmers say the Russian invasion could lead to food droughts for millions
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What we covered

  • A Ukrainian commander at the Azovstal steel plant said there are “bloody battles” unfolding with Russian forces inside the complex after they breached the perimeter.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said evacuation operations out of Mariupol continued Thursday, and officials say another round is planned for Friday.
  • The European Union is proposing a ban on Russian oil, the European Commission chief said this week. The bloc is also planning other measures, including removing Russia’s largest bank and two other companies from the SWIFT system.
  • The EU will also look at ways of ramping up military support to Moldova over fears the breakaway region of Transnistria could be included in Russia’s war strategy. 

Our coverage of the war in Ukraine has moved here.

48 Posts

Our coverage of the war in Ukraine has moved here.

Japan's Prime Minister announces additional sanctions on Russia

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced additional sanctions on Russia on Thursday, as he wrapped up his Southeast Asia and Europe tour. 

The sanctions include freezing assets of about 140 additional individuals and some Russian banks. Seventy military entities will be added to the export ban to Russia as well as quantum computers and high-tech products, according to the Prime Minister. 

“Japan with other G7 nations will not tolerate Russia’s outrage, and Japan stands with Ukraine,” the Prime Minister said. 

Japan’s new sanctions on Russia come after Russia sanctioned 63 Japanese officials, including Kishida himself, on Wednesday.

US provided intel that helped Ukraine target Russian warship, sources say

When Ukraine successfully targeted Russia’s prized warship last month with anti-ship cruise missiles, they had some help from the United States.  

Ukrainian forces, having spotted a Russian warship in the Black Sea, called their American contacts for confirmation that it was in fact the Moskva, sources familiar with the events told CNN. The US responded that it was, and provided intelligence about its location.

It is not clear whether the US knew Ukraine would move to strike the ship, however, and the US was not involved in that decision, the sources said. 

The ship sank after it was struck by two Ukrainian cruise missiles on April 14, dealing a huge blow to the Russian military.

The episode, first reported by NBC News, reflects the Biden administration’s increasingly forward-leaning posture when it comes to sharing intelligence with Ukraine, part of a broader policy shift toward helping Ukraine defeat Russia decisively on the battlefield and significantly weaken its military. 

But it also raises questions about what both the US and Russia’s red lines are when it comes to US military support to Ukraine.  

The US has for months been providing Ukrainian forces with intelligence about Russian troop movements inside Ukraine, including intercepted communications about Russian military planning. It also provides Ukraine with maritime awareness information to allow them to better understand the threat posed by Russian ships in the Black Sea, many of which are firing missiles onto Ukrainian territory. 

There are also clear limits, however, to what the US will share, multiple sources told CNN. 

For example, the US has so far declined to provide information to Ukraine about potential targets inside Russia itself. And while the intelligence the US shares about Russian troop movements inside Ukraine can include details like vehicles and types of personnel at a particular location, the US has not provided Ukraine with intelligence about specific Russian military leaders’ whereabouts, officials have said.  

“We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. Kirby added that “Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intelligence that they themselves are gathering on the battlefield, and then they make their own decisions, and they take their own actions.” 

Russian shelling of the Azovstal plant is "not stopping," Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the shelling of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is “not stopping” even as “civilians still need to be taken out.” 

“Women, many children remain there,” he said during his nightly address on Thursday. “Just imagine the hell — more than two months of constant shelling, bombing, constant death nearby.”

The Ukrainian authorities are “doing everything to find a solution to save our military heroes” defending Mariupol, Zelensky added. “There are different units. They have many wounded, but they do not give up. They hold position. And we too are trying to find solutions to find safety for these people.”

On Sunday, over 100 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant where they spent two months sheltering underground from Russian attacks.

It’s unclear how many civilians remain trapped in the plant, according to a spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric.

Evacuations out of Mariupol continued Thursday with another round planned for Friday

A local resident walks past houses destroyed in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said evacuation operations out of the southern city of Mariupol continued Thursday. 

“The rescue operation from Mariupol continued today with the assistance of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. People are on their way to safe territory,” Zelensky said during his nightly address on Thursday. 

The Ukrainian president did not give a figure for how many people were evacuated on Thursday alone, but said that more than 300 people from the Mariupol area and more than 150 people from the Azovstal steel plant are “already receiving all the help they need” after being evacuated over the last few days. 

This comes after he announced Wednesday that authorities had succeeded in evacuating 344 people from the Mariupol area earlier that day.

Ukrainian authorities have planned a further round of evacuations out of the besieged city of Mariupol on Friday, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

“Tomorrow, on May 6, an evacuation from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia will take place. We are going to gather near the “Port City” shopping mall at about 12pm,” Vereshchuk announced in a Facebook post on Thursday evening.

The Ukrainian government is also pushing ahead with separate efforts to evacuate civilians and soldiers still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, which Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has hailed as a “the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol.”

Former US President George W. Bush calls Zelensky the "Winston Churchill of our time"

Former US President George W. Bush held a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Thursday morning and posted an image from the video call on Instagram.

Bush called Zelensky the “Winston Churchill of our time” in then post and “thanked the President for his leadership, his example, and his commitment to liberty.”

View the full Instagram post from Bush here: 

Medic in Azovstal plant appeals to Turkish leader as people "die in agony"

The Azovstal steel plant is seen pictured in this drone image in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5.

An unnamed man who describes himself as a medic has made an appeal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to help rescue those still trapped at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

In a short video message released late Thursday, the man addresses Erdogan directly: “We are constantly being shelled from the air, sea and land. I beg you to carry out the procedure for the withdrawal of people, including the military, from the territory of Azovstal, to stop this nightmare.” 

The man says he is a Crimean Tatar and a Muslim. 

“I received a medical education before the invasion, and now I am providing medical assistance to Azovstal. Before the war, I never saw death, I worked on an ambulance, I always helped people as much as I could. But it hurts to watch people die in the arms, just from a lack of antibiotics,” he said.

He said the injured are dying in pain.

“People are dying: some from bullets, some from hunger. They die in agony, from lack of medicines and from terrible conditions. We don’t have time and I don’t know if we have tomorrow,” he said.

Reaching out to Erdoğan, he said: “263 kilometres from you, across the sea, they kill people who are just protecting their land, women and children. We didn’t attack anyone.”

He added, “Turkey and Ukraine have always maintained close relations. You and your country have a great weight in the politics of our region. We don’t know who to write and who to contact. Therefore, I turn to you.”

From medals to road signs, Russians try to put their stamp on Mariupol

Medals, road-signs and statues — these are some of the early symbols of Russia’s seizure of parts of southern Ukraine, and especially Mariupol.

The leader of self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and a senior official in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party awarded medals “For the Liberation of Mariupol” this week.

“The liberation of this city is a joint victory for the armies of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Russian Federation,” Pushilin posted on his Telegram channel.

The DPR has been hard at work changing road-signs from Ukrainian into Russian, especially those at the entrance to Mariupol. The Ministry of Transport of the DPR promised Thursday that work on the replacement of road signs in the liberated territories will continue. 

A strange statue has also gone up in Mariupol, depicting an elderly woman grasping the Soviet flag.

The Russians have “opened a monument made of shit and sticks to an old lady with a flag on Warriors Liberators Square, which they stubbornly call the Leninist Komsomol,” said Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the elected mayor of Mariupol.

He also spoke bitterly about the rising number of Russian officials visiting Mariupol, including the Sergey Kiriyenko, a senior official at the Kremlin, describing them as “curators of Mariupol’s integration into Russia.” 

On the road to Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol — a road most of those trying to escape Mariupol must take — is the town of Tokmak, also under Russian occupation.

The entrance sign to the town has been repainted in the Russian tricolor.

Elsewhere in the south of Ukraine, the ruble is gradually being introduced.

According to a community group on Facebook, government employees in the town of Yakymivka have been told that if they want to be paid in Ukrainian hryvnia “the occupiers will take two-thirds of the salary.”

Jill Biden's trip to Romania and Slovakia includes Mother's Day with Ukrainian refugees

US First Lady Jill Biden departs Thursday evening on a trip to Romania and Slovakia, where she will spend time with several Ukrainian families displaced by the Russian invasion, according to a release from the East Wing.

Part of the first lady’s intense, four-day schedule of events and meetings and visits includes Mother’s Day activities in Kosice, Slovakia, where Biden will visit a refugee center and two separate schools.  

“Dr. Biden is inspired by the resilience and strength of the Ukrainian people and hopes to communicate that Americans are standing with them,” release stated. 

Biden will also meet with Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova. 

Prior to Slovakia, on Saturday, the first lady will hold a meeting in Bucharest, Romania, with that country’s first lady, Carmen Iohannis, who like Biden is an educator and who has also kept her job as an English teacher at a local college during her tenure. 

Biden’s first stop will be Friday at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base in Romania, where she will meet with US and NATO military leadership. She will also visit with troops stationed at the base and participate in a meal service before departing for Bucharest.

United Nations and Red Cross launch third operation to evacuate citizens from Mariupol, secretary general says

The International Committee of the Red Cross team participates in an ongoing operation to facilitate the safe passage of civilians out of the Azovstal plant and Mariupol on May 4.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have launched a third operation to evacuate civilians from the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

Guterres said this is the third such operation to evacuate citizens from the area after two other operations. 

“So far, in total, nearly 500 civilians have found long-awaited relief after living under relentless shelling and scarce availability of water, food and sanitation,” Guterres told the UN Security Council.

“The evacuees have shared moving tales with UN staff — mothers, children and frail grandparents spoke of their trauma. Some were in urgent need of medical attention. I hope that the continued coordination with Moscow and Kyiv will lead to more humanitarian pauses to allow civilians safe passage from the fighting and aid to reach those in critical need,” he said.

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

 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. 

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

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.

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

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.

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

Smoke rises from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 5.

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.

Germany announces $130 million more in humanitarian aid for Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on May 5.

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. 

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.

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

Flames and smoke rise from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 5.

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.

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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a press conference on April 23, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

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.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on April 27, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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.

Ukrainian woman who joined Azov regiment after her son was killed has died inside Azovstal steel plant

Nataliya Luhovska, a Ukrainian woman who joined the Azov regiment after her own son was killed on the front lines, has died inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.  

CNN’s Isa Soares first reported on her story on Wednesday. In an interview, Nataliya’s mother, Paraskeviya, said she begged her daughter to leave Azovstal, but she rejected two offers to surrender. 

“She goes until the end. There is no point in crying and begging,” her mother said. “I want people like Putin to not exist on Earth … What can I say, poor are those mothers that brought up sons that are now killing innocent people.”

When CNN reached Nataliya via Telegram on Monday, she wrote “morale is high” and “wait for us to come back with the victory.”

The news of her death was also confirmed by the Azov regiment and the town mayor. Her family said she died as a result of an airstrike. She was 51 years old. 

CNN first learned about the family’s story while filming in their hometown of Chernovohrad, about one hour north of Lviv. 

When asked about her rank within the regiment, Nataliya said she was a junior sergeant, and that she first had a role as a military psychologist but then had “additional new responsibilities” that she couldn’t disclose.  

According to the family, Nataliya’s son-in-law also died while fighting in Mariupol on April 21.

Another joint UN and Red Cross evacuation convoy is on the way to Azovstal, official says 

The United Nations Special Envoy for Ukraine Martin Griffiths said another evacuation convoy is hoping to get to the Azovstal plant in Mariupol by Friday morning.

“Now, the convoy is proceeding to get to Azovstal by tomorrow morning, hopefully to receive those civilians remaining in that bleak hell for so many weeks and months and to take them back to safety,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths was speaking at the Ukraine Donors Conference in Warsaw. He said the UN was working with the International Red Cross to get the convoy to Mariupol, as it did in the operation to evacuate civilians in Azovstal during the weekend.

Russian oligarch’s yacht seized by authorities in Fiji, US officials say

US officials said a $300 million yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch was seized by Fijian authorities on Thursday as part of their broad crackdown on individuals friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Amadea, a 348-foot luxury yacht owned by Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian oligarch sanctioned by US authorities in 2018, was docked at the port in Lautoka, Fiji, and seized by local law enforcement at the request of the Justice Department.

“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,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

US officials allege Kerimov, who made his fortune in gold, acquired the yacht after he was placed on the US sanctions list. They allege Kerimov violated US law by using the US banking system to conduct dollar-denominated transactions to cover expenses for the yacht, according to a FBI affidavit. The cost of maintaining the yacht runs $25 million to $30 million a year, the affidavit said. 

The yacht sailed through the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, to Mexico and then arrived in Fiji on April 12, authorities said. They believe it was en route to Russia to avoid US seizure when it docked in Fiji, the affidavit said.  

Fiji’s High Court earlier this week ruled the US could seize the yacht, according to news reports. Fijian officials executed the seizure warrant on Thursday.

Kerimov was detained in France in 2018 after bringing as much as 20 million euros into the country in suitcases without reporting the money to tax authorities. He was suspected of laundering the money through villas. The initial charges were dropped but a new tax investigation by the French authorities opened in 2019.

Ukrainian foreign minister says Russia's Lavrov should publicly apologize to Jews around the world

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a news conference on April 19.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov should publicly apologize to all Jews around the world about his comments about Nazism and Adolf Hitler.

“Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and I are both outraged by the Russian minister’s anti-Semitic statements. I stressed that anti-Semitism among Russia’s elites has a long history. The only way out for Lavrov is to publicly apologize to all Jews. Anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated,” Kuleba wrote in his tweet.

Last Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made comments on Italian television, repeating Russia’s claim that its invasion of Ukraine is to “de-Nazify” the country. When the interviewer pointed out that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish, Lavrov said “I may be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. It means absolutely nothing. The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

Israeli officials condemned Lavrov’s comments and Russia’s ambassador to Israel was summoned to Israel’s foreign ministry for talks. Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the assertions “lies” and Lapid described them as “unforgivable and outrageous,” warning that Israel had “tried to maintain good relations with Russia, but there is a line, and this time the line has been crossed.”

“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust,” Lapid added. “The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of anti-Semitism.”

Sources say Russian troops are stealing thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers

Multiple sources have told CNN how Russian forces have been stealing grain and farm equipment from Ukrainian farmers. The photo shows one machine being stolen near Melitopol.

Russian forces are stealing farm equipment and thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers in areas they have occupied, as well as targeting food storage sites with artillery, multiple sources have told CNN.

The phenomenon has accelerated in recent weeks as Russian units have tightened their grip on parts of the rich agricultural regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine, the sources said. Sowing operations in many areas have since been disrupted or abandoned.

The actions of the Russian forces may threaten the harvest this year in one of the world’s most important grain-producing countries. The volumes involved are said to be huge.

Oleg Nivievskyi, an agrarian specialist at the Kyiv School of Economics, told CNN that on the eve of the invasion, six million tons of wheat and 15 million tons of corn were ready for export from Ukraine, much of it held in the south of the country.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Thursday an estimated 400,000 tons of grain had been stolen to date.

Farmers and others in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have provided CNN with details of multiple thefts.

In late April, Russian soldiers removed 1,500 tons of grain from storage units known as elevators in the Kherson village of Mala Lepetykha, using trucks with Crimean number plates. The next day, those same trucks — 35 in all — returned and emptied large storage units known as grain silos at nearby Novorajsk across the river Dnieper.

In Melitopol, an occupied city in Zaporizhzhia region, Mayor Ivan Fedorov shared a video with CNN that showed trucks — several bearing the “Z” sign of the Russian military — carrying grain towards Crimea. The main elevator in the city had been emptied.

Fedorov told CNN that the Russians “went around all the villages, every yard and looked for agricultural machinery, for grain, which they subsequently looted.”

“Chechen soldiers, fighting for Russia, act like criminals in the 1990s. First they offer to buy grain for a ridiculously low price. But if you don’t agree, they take everything from you for nothing.

“The scale of looting is simply overwhelming,” he said.

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Multiple sources have told CNN how Russian forces have been stealing grain and farm equipment from Ukrainian farmers. The photo shows one machine being stolen near Melitopol.

Russians steal vast amounts of Ukrainian grain and equipment, threatening this year's harvest