Civilians attempt evacuation from Ukraine’s besieged Mariupol

Ukrainian authorities attempted further evacuations from Mariupol on Monday, following an initial operation to remove around 100 civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel plant. Meanwhile, in Brussels, EU energy ministers held emergency talks as the bloc considers a phasing out of Russian oil imports. Read about the day’s events as they unfolded on our liveblog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

5:51am: New EU sanctions would exclude more Russian banks from SWIFT network, Borrell says

A fresh European Union sanctions package over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is set to include “more Russian banks” being pushed out of the global SWIFT network, the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said Monday.

“In the banking sector, there will be more Russian banks that will leave SWIFT,” the global banking communications system, Borrell said during a visit to Panama.

4:26am: Borrell says EU aims to pass new Russia sanctions as early as next week

The European Union hopes to pass the sixth round of sanctions against Russia at the next meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, the bloc’s chief diplomat said on Monday.

Josep Borrell told a news conference in Panama City, where he is on an official visit, the bloc hopes to curb Russia’s energy exports as part of its efforts to sanction Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

The European Commission, the executive branch of the union, is expected to propose the package of EU sanctions this week, including a potential embargo on buying Russian oil – a measure that would deprive Moscow of a large revenue stream, but that has so far divided EU countries.

Borrell, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Council meetings, said he hopes the EU will be able to take “measures to significantly limit these imports” but conceded so far there is no agreement from all the members.

“But I am confident that, at least with regard to oil imports, this agreement will be possible between now and the next Council meeting,” he added.

The Council has meetings scheduled for May 10 and May 16 later this month.

2:47am: Ukrainian forces apparently ‘taking ground back’ in Kharkiv

Frank Ledwidge, a senior lecturer in military strategy and law at the University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom, tells FRANCE 24 that the Russian advance has stalled in the Kharkiv area and may force the invading troops to call in reinforcements from the Donbas region.

“It seems the Ukrainians (in Kharkiv) are taking ground back from the Russians and threatening their supply lines,” says Ledwidge. “It looks as if they’re going to need to draw forces away from the Donbas to achieve some kind of rescue of their beleaguered force up there.”

Ledwidge adds that the Russian offensive in Donbas is beginning to slow down, having failed to achieve the kind of breakthrough Moscow was seeking.

1:08am: Russia plans to ‘annex’ Ukraine’s Donetsk, Lugansk regions with sham referendums, US official says

Russia is planning imminently to “annex” the two eastern regions of Ukraine battered by its invasion after failing to overthrow the Kyiv government, a senior US official said Monday.

“According to the most recent reports, we believe that Russia will try to annex the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Lugansk People’s Republic’ to Russia,” said Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

“The reports state that Russia plans to engineer referenda upon joining sometime in mid-May,” he told reporters in Washington.

Carpenter said that the United States also believed Russia was considering a similar plan in a third region, Kherson, where Moscow has recently solidified its control and imposed use of its ruble currency.

“We think the reports are highly credible. Unfortunately we have been more right than wrong in exposing what we believe may be coming next, and so that is part of what we’re trying to do here.”

May 3, 12:09am: UK’s Johnson to address Ukrainian parliament, announce new aid package

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to address Ukraine’s parliament, delivering a message that the fight against Russian invasion is Ukraine’s “finest hour.”

Johnson’s office says the UK leader will announce a new 300 million pound ($375 million) package of military aid to Ukraine when he speaks to the legislature by video link on Tuesday. Britain has already sent Ukraine equipment including missiles and missile launchers. The new package includes electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices.

In advance extracts of the address released by the prime minister’s office, Johnson evokes a 1940 speech by World War II leader Winston Churchill as the UK fought attack from Nazi Germany. Johnson will say that “the British people showed such unity and resolve that we remember our time of greatest peril as our finest hour. This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national story that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Britain’s Parliament on March 8, and also likened his country’s struggle to Britain’s fight against the Nazis. Johnson visited Kyiv on April 9.

11:25pm: US Senate leader aims to begin processing fresh round of Ukraine aid as soon as next week

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday he hoped the chamber would take up President Joe Biden’s request for $33 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine as soon as next week.

“It is my hope that a bipartisan agreement can be reached very soon and that the Senate can begin processing this aid package on the floor as early as next week,” the Democratic leader said in remarks opening the Senate.

11:19pm: Ukraine’s Zelensky says Russia forgot World War Two lessons

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s suggestion that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins showed that Moscow has forgotten, or never learned, the lessons of World War Two.

“I have no words…No one has heard any denial or any justification from Moscow. All we have from there is silence…. this means that the Russian leadership has forgotten all the lessons of World War Two,” Zelenskiy, who is Jewish, said in his nightly video message.

“Or perhaps they have never learned those lessons.”

10:55pm: Indiscriminate shelling continues apace in Kharkiv

While the world’s attention is focused on efforts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, fighting continues to rage in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas, and the northern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest, continues to be pummeled by Russian bombardment. FRANCE 24’s Nadia Massih brings us the latest from the capital, Kyiv.

10:02pm: Strain on US weapons stockpile?

US Air Force planes have been taking off almost daily from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, transporting Javelins, Stingers, howitzers and other material to resupply Ukraine’s military, the Associated Press reports.

President Joe Biden will be hoping to spotlight the weapons’ game-changing impact as he visits a Lockheed Martin plant in Alabama on Tuesday that builds the portable Javelin anti-tank weapons that have played a crucial role in Ukraine.

But Biden’s visit is also drawing attention to a growing concern as the war drags on: Can the US sustain the cadence of shipping vast amounts of arms to Ukraine while maintaining a healthy stockpile for its own needs?

The US already has provided at least 7,000 Javelins, about one-third of its stockpile, to Ukraine, according to an analysis by Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies international security program.

Analysts also estimate that the US has sent about one-quarter of its stockpile of shoulder-fired Stinger missiles to Ukraine. Raytheon Technologies, which makes the weapons system, has already warned it won’t be able to ramp up production until next year due to parts shortages.

9:52pm: ‘I cried when I saw our soldiers’

FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago has spoken to some of the first evacuees from Mariupol, who arrived today in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaphorizhzhia.

9:25pm: Sanctions won’t be lifted until Russia signs peace deal, says Germany’s Scholz

Sanctions imposed in response to the invasion of Ukraine will not be lifted until Moscow reaches a peace agreement with Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has told reporters, adding that it is for Ukraine to determine the peace terms.

Scholz, in an interview broadcast Monday on ZDF public television, said Russia’s Vladimir Putin had miscalculated if he believed he might be able to gain territory from Ukraine, declare an end to hostilities, and see Western countries drop sanctions.

“He didn’t think his entire Ukraine operation through,” Scholz said. “He didn’t think Ukraine would resist like that. He didn’t think we would support them to hold out for so long. … We won’t withdraw the sanctions unless he reaches an agreement with Ukraine, and he won’t get that with a dictated peace.”

He also said Germany would not accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “That was a breach of international law (…) It remains true,” he said.

8:54pm: Rocket strike kills teenage boy in Odesa

A rocket strike has hit the Black Sea port city of Odesa in southwestern Ukraine, causing deaths and injuries, the local governor, Maksym Marchenko, has said on the Telgram messaging app.

Odesa city council said the rocket hit a residential building, killing a teenage boy.

No further details were immediately available.

A largely Russian-speaking city and cultural hub, Odesa has seen increased attacks by Moscow in recent weeks.

Late last month, five people were killed, including a 3-month-old baby girl, in a Russian strike on the city.

7:10pm: UEFA bans Russian clubs, national team for next season

Russia’s national soccer team and the country’s club sides have been banned from European competition next season, UEFA has said.

Russia’s bid to host the Euro 2028 or the Euro 2032 tournaments have also been declared ineligible, the Switzerland-based governing body said.

UEFA said it decision to rule Russia out as a host followed its regulations that each bidder should “not act in a manner that could bring UEFA, the UEFA final or UEFA final phase, any other bidder the bidding procedure or European football into disrepute”.

UEFA and world soccer governing body FIFA had already suspended Russia’s national teams and clubs from international football until further notice due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

6:15pm: Sweden to reopen Kyiv embassy on Wednesday

Sweden is the latest country to announced a return to the Ukrainian capital, which most foreign diplomats left in the run-up to Russia’s invasion.

“Sweden will continue to #StandWithUkraine, and is delighted that @SwedeninUA ‘s diplomatic presence will be back where it belongs,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter.

5:35pm: Germany ready to back Russian oil ban, ministers say

Two senior ministers in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government have said Germany is ready to back an immediate EU ban on Russian oil imports, and that Europe’s biggest economy could weather shortages and price hikes.

The comments by Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Economy Minister Robert Habeck are the latest sign Sholz has shifted from his cautious approach toward Russia and is willing to back sanctions against Moscow even if they have economic costs at home.

Speaking in Brussels, Habeck of the Greens said Germany would back an EU ban, regardless of whether the stoppage was immediate or by the end of the year.

“Germany is not against an oil ban on Russia. Of course it is a heavy load to bear but we would be ready to do that,” Habeck told reporters before talks with his EU colleagues.

Lindner of the pro-business Free Democrats told a German broadcaster that the German economy could tolerate an immediate ban.

“With coal and oil, it is possible to forgo Russian imports now,” Lindner told WELT. “It can’t be ruled out that fuel prices could rise.”

Germany cut the share of Russian oil to 12% from 35% before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

It is working on finding alternative fuel supplies, most urgently for the Russian oil that comes by pipeline to a refinery in Schwedt operated by Russian state company Rosneft.

4:28pm: Israel demands apology for Lavrov’s Hitler comments

There have been further reactions in Israel to Sergei Lavrov‘s claims that Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins, with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slamming an “unforgivable” falsehood that debased the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.

Lapid’s office has summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded an apology.

Lavrov made the assertion on Italian television on Sunday when he was asked why Russia said it needed to “denazify” Ukraine if the country’s own president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was himself Jewish.

“When they say ‘What sort of nazification is this if we are Jews’, well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing,” Lavrov told Rete 4 channel, speaking through an Italian interpreter.

“For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves,” he added.

The comments have sparked fury in Israel and prompted condemnation from politicians and historians alike.

“Such lies are intended to accuse the Jews themselves of the most horrific crimes in history that were committed against them,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

Read more: Outrage in Israel as Russia’s Lavrov claims Hitler had Jewish roots

3:50pm: Mariupol civilians caught up in strategy to ‘terrorise’ population

FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor Douglas Herbert explains why the evacuation of civilians holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has been repeatedly derailed by Russian bombardment.

3:46pm: US hopes to reopen Kyiv embassy by end of month

Washington is hoping its diplomats will be able to return to Ukraine’s capital “by the end of the month”, says embassy charge d’affaires Kristina Kvien.

“We very much hope that conditions will permit us to go back to Kyiv by the end of the month,” Kvien said at a press conference in the western city of Lviv.

The US closed its embassy in Kyiv on February 14, ten days before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and moved its diplomats westwards.

Kvien said she and her staff were “working day and night in Poland” to “help Ukraine win this war.”

3:08pm: Finland will not select players competing in Russian leagues

More news from Finland, this time hockey-related. The country’s Ice Hockey Association says players competing in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and other leagues in Russia next season will not be selected for the national team.

“The position of the Finnish Hockey Association is that players playing in Russia next season will not be able to play for the national team,” the association has said in a statement.

Finnish club Jokerit withdrew from the KHL in late February, days after the invasion.

As many as 31 Finnish players were on KHL rosters according to the league’s website but only a handful remain following Jokerit’s withdrawal and several players choosing to leave their clubs in the wake of the invasion.

Finland’s men’s ice hockey team won Olympic gold in Beijing in February, beating the Russian Olympic Committee team in the final.

2:50pm: Finnish group scraps nuclear plant project with Russian firm

Finnish-led consortium Fennovoima says it has terminated a contract with Russian group Rosatom to build Finland‘s third nuclear power plant, citing risks linked to the Ukraine war.

“The contract has been cancelled due to delays and the inability to deliver, and we have seen that the war has increased these risks,” Fennovoima chairman of the board Esa Harmala told reporters at a press conference.

Rosatom said it was surprised by the announcement – and threatened to take the matter to court.

“The reasons for such a decision are completely incomprehensible,” the group said in a statement, adding that the project had been “progressing” and Fennovoima’s management had not discussed the termination of the contract with shareholders.

The proposed 1,200-megawatt Russian-designed reactor was to be built in Pyhajoki, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the port of Oulu in northern Finland.

The Hanhikivi 1 project, in which Rosatom owns a 34-percent stake with the remainder held by a Finnish consortium, has been delayed several times and the construction permit has not yet been granted. Construction was supposed to begin next year and electricity production in 2029.

12:25pm: Evacuation buses have not reached pickup point yet: Mariupol council

Buses seeking to evacuate more civilians from Mariupol have not yet reached the agreed pickup point, according to the city council, contradicting an earlier report that they had left the devastated port city in southeast Ukraine.

The city council urged the evacuees to remain in place.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the delay.

Earlier, Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to Mariupol’s mayor, had said the buses had left Mariupol but he later put out a message that also confirmed the hitch in the planned evacuation.

The civilians in question are from the city itself, not from the Azovstal steelworks, from where the UN and Red Cross have organised evacuation convoys.

12:22pm: Poland ready to help Germany stop using Russian oil: minister

Poland is ready to help Germany wean itself off Russian oil, said Climate Minister Anna Moskwa, adding that she hoped an EU embargo could come into force before the end of the year.

Poland advocates tough measures against Russia, but with many EU countries heavily reliant on Moscow for their energy needs, the bloc has appeared split on how sanctions should be enforced.

“As Poland, we are ready to support Germany’s ambitions of de-russification with our refinery in Gdansk,” said Moskwa. “I hope that will be the last voice that will…block these sanctions on oil.”

Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week after they refused to meet its demand to effectively pay in roubles.

Moskwa has previously said that the main EU member states resisting tougher gas sanctions on Russia are Austria, Germany and Hungary and that the bloc should penalise countries that use roubles to pay for Russian gas.

She also said Poland wants the EU to impose a clear cut-off date for when member states will have to stop importing Russian oil. “We want this package (of sanctions) to include a very specific and clear date and requirement for all countries…that it should be a complete package without any gaps.”

11:45am: Russian rocket strike hits strategic bridge in southwest Ukraine

A Russian rocket strike hit a strategically important bridge across the Dniester estuary in the Odessa region, according to local authorities.

The bridge, which has already been hit twice by Russian forces, provides the only road and rail link on Ukrainian territory to a large southern section of the Odessa region.

Serhiy Bratchuk, the Odessa regional administration’s spokesman, reported the strike on the Telegram messaging app but gave no further details.

11:33am: Russia’s Bolshoi scraps performances by critical directors

Russia‘s Bolshoi theatre has announced it is cancelling the performances directed by Kirill Serebrennikov and Timofey Kulyabin who have spoken out against Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Late Sunday, Russia’s top theatre announced that instead of the three performances of “Nureev”, a ballet directed by Serebrennikov, the audiences this week will see a production of Aram Khachaturian’s ballet, “Spartacus”.

The prestigious theatre also said that instead of “Don Pasquale”, a comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti directed by Timofey Kulyabin, audiences this week will see a production of Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”

11:29am: Germany would weather Russian oil ban despite shortages says energy minister

Germany would be able to weather an EU embargo on Russian oil imports by the end of this year even though a stoppage could result in shortages, said Economy Minister Robert Habeck, appearing to throw his weight behind a ban.

Two EU diplomats earlier said the bloc is leaning toward a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year as part of a sixth package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. EU energy ministers will discuss the proposed oil ban in Brussels later on Monday.

11:28am: Ukraine evacuees head to safety after ordeal in Mariupol steel works

The first evacuees from the ruins of Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works were expected to reach the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia later today, after cowering in underground bunkers from Russian shelling for weeks.

The vast Azovstal industrial complex in the Sea of Azov port city that has been devastated by weeks of Russian shelling has served as a refuge for both civilians and a dwindling number of Ukrainian troops as Moscow has claimed control of Mariupol.

11:18am: Israel slams Russian claims on Hitler over Ukraine war

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has slammed his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for alleging Adolf Hitler may have “had Jewish blood” and summoned the Russian ambassador for “clarifications”.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Israel has sought to keep a delicate balance between the two sides, but remarks by the Russian foreign minister to an Italian channel sparked anger in Israel.

Moscow has previously said it wants to “de-militarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Speaking to Italian outlet Mediaset in an interview released Sunday, Lavrov claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “puts forward an argument of what kind of Nazism can they have if he himself is Jewish”.

Lavrov, according to a transcript posted on the Russian foreign ministry website, then added: “I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood”.

Lapid, in a statement from the foreign ministry on the “grave remarks”, condemned the comments.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” Lapid said. “Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”

Israel’s foreign ministry “has summoned the Russian Ambassador to Israel for a clarification meeting”, the statement added.

11:14am: Poland wants specific date for EU oil embargo

Poland wants the EU to impose a clear cut off date at which member states will have to stop importing Russian oil, the climate minister said on Monday, adding that she hoped an embargo could come into force before the end of the year.

“We want this package (of sanctions) to include a very specific and clear date and requirement for all countries… that it should be a complete package without any gaps.”

10:10am: Russia says its military shot down Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet

Russia’s defence ministry has said its military shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet near Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine.

In a morning briefing, the defence ministry said the Russian military had hit 38 military targets in Ukraine, including ammunition depots and control centres.

It was not possible to independently confirm the information.

10:03am: Denmark opens Kyiv embassy

Denmark on Monday reopened its embassy in Kyiv, Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod announced during a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital.

“It is a very strong symbol of Danish support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people that today we are reopening the doors of the Danish embassy,” Kofod said in a statement.

The move, which follows similar ones by other Western nations, had not been made public in advance. Denmark closed the embassy following the Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

9:45am: Some countries not there yet on Russian oil embargo says German energy minister

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday he had heard different things about an embargo of Russian oil and that some countries were not yet ready for such a step. Two European Union diplomats said earlier the bloc is leaning toward a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year. Germany does not want to trigger an economic catastrophe, Habeck said.

9:37am: Ukraine says it destroyed two Russian patrol boats

A Ukrainian Bayraktar drone destroyed two Russian Raptor-class patrol ships in the Black Sea, according to Ukraine’s military chief.

“Two Russian Raptor-class boats were destroyed at dawn today near Zmiinyi (Snake) Island,” Chief of General Staff Valeriy Zaluzhniy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow to the claim.

9:31am: Finland’s Fennovoima ends Rosatom contract for nuclear power plant

Finnish consortium Fennovoima has announced that it has terminated its contract with Russia’s state-owned nuclear power supplier Rosatom for the delivery of a planned nuclear power plant in Finland.

The planned Hanhikivi plant was commissioned by Fennovoima, a Finnish-Russian consortium, in which Finnish stakeholders including Outokumpu, Fortum and SSAB own two thirds and Rosatom’s subsidiary RAOS Voima holds the rest.

9:12am: Requests for Russian gas supplies via Ukraine rise in Europe

Requests for supplies of Russian gas via Ukraine increased in Europe on Monday, data from Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator showed.

According to the data, requests stood at 98.8 million cubic metres for Monday, up from 97.2 million cubic metres on Sunday.

9:03am: Finland will decide to apply for NATO membership on May 12: report

Finland will decide to apply for NATO membership on May 12, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported late on Sunday, citing anonymous government sources.

The decision to join will come in two steps on that day, with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto first announcing his approval for the Nordic neighbour of Russia to join the Western defence alliance, followed by parliamentary groups giving their approval for the application, the paper reported.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Finland and Sweden to the verge of applying for NATO membership and abandoning a belief held for decades that peace was best kept by not publicly choosing sides.

8:51am: Hungary opposes EU embargo on Russian oil and gas imports: spokesman

Hungary is still opposed to any European Union embargo on Russian oil and gas imports, according to government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs.

“The Hungarian stance regarding any oil and gas embargo has not changed: we do not support them,” Kovacs said in an emailed reply to Reuters questions.

8:45am: Ukraine may lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain: Zelensky

Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain due to Russia’s blockade of its Black Seaports, triggering a food crisis that will affect Europe, Asia and Africa, said President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Russia does not let ships come in or go out, it is controlling the Black Sea,” Zelensky told the Australian news programme 60 Minutes. “Russia wants to completely block our country’s economy.”

Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and other food products and also of metals.

8:38am: EU energy ministers ‘close’ to an agreement on Russian energy embargo

The EU energy ministers are close to reaching an agreement regarding an embargo on Russian oil, according to FRANCE 24’s Dave Keating, reporting from Brussels. This comes after weeks of intense talks, as Germany has agreed to a phased ban on Russian energy imports that would start at the end of the year. The ban will not begin immediately to give EU countries a chance to find other alternative suppliers and construct the adequate infrastructure to accommodate the change.

Austria, Italy and Hungry among other countries have expressed concerns due to their dependency on Russian fossil fuels and the potential impact of an embarge on their economies. Hungry’s PM Viktor Orban has threatened in the past to veto an attempt by the EU to impose an embargo on Russian energy.

Orban is a longstanding ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, however vetoing a bill against the Kremlin at this advanced stage could blow up his newly formed alliance with Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, explained Keating.

6:00am: Jill Biden to meet with Ukrainian refugees during visit to Romania and Slovakia

First Lady Jill Biden will visit Romania and Slovakia from May 5-9 to meet with US service members and embassy personnel, displaced Ukrainian parents and children, humanitarian aid workers, and teachers, the White House said.

After arriving in Romania on Friday, she is scheduled to meet with US service members at Mihail Kogalniceau Air Base, a US military installation near the Black Sea.

The schedule then takes her to the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Saturday to meet with government officials, US Embassy staff, humanitarian aid workers and educators who are helping teach displaced Ukrainian children.

On May 8, she will travel to Kosice and Vysne Nemecke in Slovakia to meet with refugees, humanitarian aid workers, and local Slovakians who are supporting Ukrainian families who have sought refuge in Slovakia.

4:49am: Russia not seeking to end Ukraine war by May 9, says FM

Russia is not looking to end its war in Ukraine by Victory Day on May 9, said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as the country looks set to mark the key anniversary under the cloud of a deadly conflict.

Speaking with Italian outlet Mediaset, Lavrov insisted Moscow would not rush to wrap up its so-called “special military operation” in time for the anniversary, which celebrates Nazi Germany’s surrender to allied forces — including the then Soviet Union — in 1945.

“Our military will not artificially adjust their actions to any date, including Victory Day,” Lavrov said in the interview released Sunday.

“The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends, first of all, on the need to minimise any risks for the civilian population and Russian military personnel,” he added.

Russia typically marks Victory Day in grand style, with a large military parade in central Moscow and a speech by President Vladimir Putin hailing the country’s leading role in the defeat of fascism in Europe.

4:30am: EU energy ministers hold crisis talks after Russian gas cuts

Energy ministers from European Union countries hold emergency talks on Monday, as the bloc strives for a united response to Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles or face their supply being cut off.

Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week after they refused to meet its demand to effectively pay in roubles.

Those countries already planned to stop using Russian gas this year and say they can cope with the stoppage, but it has raised fears that other EU countries, including Europe’s gas-reliant economic powerhouse Germany, could be next.

It has also threatened to crack the EU’s united front against Russia amid disagreement on the right course of action.

With many European companies facing gas payment deadlines later this month, EU states have a pressing need to clarify whether companies can keep buying the fuel without breaching the EU’s sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

3:05am: Explosions in Russian region bordering Ukraine

Two explosions took place in the early hours on Monday in Belgorod, the southern Russian region bordering Ukraine, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the region’s governor wrote in a social media post.

“There were no casualties or damage,” Gladkov wrote.

10:18pm: Pelosi’s visit to Kyiv is ‘very significant’

Pelosi’s visit to Kyiv is “very significant; it’s another show of solidarity and support for Ukraine,” The Guardian’s David Smith told FRANCE 24 from Washington DC.

9:20pm: Eight dead after Russian airstrikes in eastern Ukraine, governor says

Eight civilians died on Sunday following Russian shelling attacks in Donetsk and Kharkiv, the regions’ governors said, as Moscow’s forces push deeper into eastern Ukraine.

The deaths came as the Russian army refocuses its efforts on eastern Ukraine, notably the Donbas region, which incorporates Donetsk and Lugansk.

Four were killed in shelling in the town of Lyman in Donetsk, the regional governor said.

“On May 1, four civilians were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, all in Lyman. Eleven other people were injured,” governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. Another person had died of his injuries in a town near Lyman, he added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Originally published on France24 Civilians attempt evacuation from Ukraine’s besieged Mariupol

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