Large fires break out at Russian military installation in Belgorod

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Zelensky: Russian action in Donbas is ‘obvious policy of genocide’

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7 hr 20 min ago

Large fires break out at Russian military installation in Belgorod

From CNN’s Tim Lister

(Pravda_Gerashchenko/Telegram)
(Pravda_Gerashchenko/Telegram)

Social media video shows fires and columns of black smoke rising from a site near Belgorod in Russia not far from the Ukrainian border. Other video shows police in the area redirecting traffic away from the area and helicopters circling above the city. 

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyascheslav Gladkov, said on Telegram that a fire had broken out at a facility belonging to the Ministry of Defense.

“On the border of three municipalities – Borisov and Belgorod districts and Yakovlevsky urban district – a fire occurred on the territory of one of the facilities of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation,” he wrote.

9 hr ago

Russia’s war in Ukraine causing “catastrophic effect” on global food prices, says USAID administrator

From CNN’s Sonnet Swire

Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development speaks with ABC's
Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development speaks with ABC’s “This Week,” on Sunday May 1. (From ABC News)

Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said Sunday that the impacts of the war in Ukraine include global food shortages and prices, maintaining “our job is to look at it globally” when asked if the worldwide consequences are reflective of a brewing world war.

“It is just another catastrophic effect of Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Power said on ABC’s “This Week.”

This comes after US President Joe Biden pressed Congress on Thursday to consider supplying Ukraine with an additional $33 billion aid package, with $3 billion allocated for humanitarian assistance and food security funding.

“Food prices, right now, George, globally, are up 34 percent from where they were a year ago. Aided substantially, again, by this invasion,” Power said, adding: “So we’ve gone to Congress asking for a substantial increase in humanitarian assistance.”

She continued: “We really do need this financial support from the Congress to be able to meet emergency food needs so we don’t see the cascading deadly effects of Russia’s war extend into Africa and beyond.”

Power noted that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East get much of their wheat from Ukraine, where farmers are struggling to plant and harvest their crops for fear of shelling and Russian landmines, she said. Their path to exporting these vital products is then severely restricted by Russia’s invasion which caused the closure of Ukraine’s ports.

Power was pressed on the nature of the crisis by host George Stephanopoulos, who noted that “listening to you lay out these consequences, it’s hard not to conclude that in some respects this is already become something of a world war.”

“Certainly in terms of effects, not confined to the horrors that the Ukrainian people are suffering,” Power responded. “But our job is to look at it globally.”

“Russia tries to take advantage of this and say, ‘oh, it’s the sanctions that are causing these high food prices.’ Not at all,” she said. “It is Russian’s invasion of Ukraine for no reason and its unwillingness now to come to the negotiating table and get out of Ukraine and get back to Russia.”

7 hr 19 min ago

Red Cross confirms Mariupol evacuation operation is ongoing

From CNN’s Andrew Carey in Lviv

Azovstal steel plant employee Natalia Usmanova, 37, who was evacuated from Mariupol, arrives at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine on May 1.
Azovstal steel plant employee Natalia Usmanova, 37, who was evacuated from Mariupol, arrives at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine on May 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with the United Nations in an ongoing operation to move people out of Mariupol and the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the ICRC said in a statement. 

“The ICRC confirms that a safe passage operation is ongoing, in coordination with the UN and the parties to the conflict. The convoy to evacuate civilians started on 29 April, travelled some 230 kilometres and reached the plant in Mariupol on Saturday morning, local time, according to the statement. “The ICRC insists on the fact that no details can be shared until the situation allows, as it could seriously jeopardize the safety of the civilians and the convoy. Relevant local authorities are communicating with the civilians about practical details.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that the “Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began.”

“The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area,” he added.

Mariupol’s city council said Sunday there was a “chance” to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol.

The Council urged people to gather at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) near a shopping center called “Port City” in order to evacuate them to the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

“If you have relatives or acquaintances in Mariupol, try to contact them by all ways. Call, text and say that it is possible to go to Zaporozhzhia, where it is safe,” the Council said on Telegram.

“We pray that everything works,” it added.

A local Telegram channel said earlier that through 3 p.m. local time, a “green corridor” would be open for citizens wishing to enter territory “controlled by the enemy in the Kamensky district.”

There are about 100,000 people still in Mariupol, even though most of the city has been severely damaged by weeks of shelling and airstrikes by Russian forces.

Ukrainian officials have been giving more details on the evacuation of civilians who had been trapped at the Azovstal steep plant. 

David Arakhamia, an advisor to President Zelensky, said: “Today is the third day of a special operation we call “Azovstal evacuation.” Since the beginning of the war, since the beginning of the blockade of Azovstal, we have managed to withdraw more than 100 civilians – small children, women and the elderly.”

Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister, said on Ukrainian television: “Sorry, we were silent. We really wanted everything to work out. Our silence was in order for people to come out alive and unharmed. More than 100 people have been evacuated, and the evacuation continues. All this happened thanks to the control of the President of Ukraine Zelensky, Antonio Guterres, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, for which we are very, very grateful.”

Some more context: Mariupol is home to the Azovstal steel plant, which has been subjected to heavy Russian bombardment in recent weeks. Hundreds of people, dozens of whom are injured, are thought to be inside the steel-making complex.

The Russian news agency TASS says that according to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, 80 civilians have now been rescued from the “territory” of the Azovstal plant and evacuated to a Russian controlled compound a few miles away 

It’s unclear whether any of them came from within the plant itself, where hundreds of civilians have been under a weeks-long bombardment. 

“Civilians evacuated by Russian servicemen from the Azovstal plant, who wished to leave for areas controlled by the Kiev regime, were handed over to representatives of the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross,” the ministry said. 

The report followed comments from a Ukrainian commander inside the plant who said some civilians have been evacuated from the steel works after the introduction of a ceasefire.

It was hoped that these civilians, all women and children, would go to the “agreed destination” of Zaporizhzhia, Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar said.

CNN’s Kostan Nechyporenko contributed to this report.

8 hr 59 min ago

Top Republican on US House Foreign Affairs Committee is confident Congress can pass Ukraine aid quickly

From CNN’s Ali Main and Daniella Diaz

Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee speaks with ABC's
Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee speaks with ABC’s “This Week,” on Sunday May 1. (From ABC News)

Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed confidence on Sunday that a new aid package for Ukraine could pass in Congress relatively quickly.

“I think time is of the essence,” he told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that he believes the next two to three weeks are going to be “very pivotal” in Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Texas Republican said he wished Congress had been presented even earlier with the $33 billion supplemental funding bill for Ukraine aid that President Biden outlined last week.

“I don’t think we have a lot of time to waste in Congress. I wish we’d had this a little bit sooner, but we have it now,” he said, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that if it were up to him, he would call the House back from recess this week to pass the aid legislation.

On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led an official congressional delegation to Kyiv, where the group discussed humanitarian and financial assistance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Every day we don’t send [Ukraine] more weapons is a day where more people will be killed and a day where they could lose this war. I think they can win it. But we have to give them the tools to do it,” he explained.

Pressed on the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin may resort to using nuclear weapons, McCaul answered “that’s always a concern.”

He said he thinks Russia’s potential use of a chemical weapon or tactical nuclear weapon would be “beyond the pale” and “crosses a red line.”

If that happens, he said, the US and allies would have to respond “in kind.”

On the Senate side, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez told Fox that they could take up the bill “either this week or next.”

“Either this week, or the next of course, if there is consensus, if there is an agreement, as you know, anything can go through the Senate through unanimous consent,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If somehow there is a desire to start picking it apart or having amendments to it, it could last longer, but time is of the essence.”

11 hr 30 min ago

Lions trapped in a zoo in Kharkiv are now safe in Odesa

From CNN’s Tim Lister

One of the white lions is seen in an enclosure at the zoo in Odesa, Ukraine, on April 14.
One of the white lions is seen in an enclosure at the zoo in Odesa, Ukraine, on April 14. (Str/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Two lions that were trapped at the zoo in Kharkiv as fighting raged in the region have begun a new life hundreds of miles away in the zoo at Odesa.

The manager of Odesa zoo, Ihor Beliakov, said he and his deputy had driven to Kharkiv to collect the lions.

They drove all night to get to Kharkiv, loaded the lions into their van at 7 a.m. and then drove all the way back to Odesa — an 18-hour trip as they avoided the frontlines.

“The lions were silent during the trip. There were no incidents on the way, we were not shelled, nothing like that,” Beliakov said. 

They only had to refuel once, and perhaps unsurprisingly there were no lines. 

The lions are now recovering in Odesa.

“They eat well,” Beliakov said — and there are hopes that the two six year-olds will have cubs. 

They have been renamed after characters in ” The Lion King” — Mufasa and Nala. 

Beliakov said the workers at the Kharkiv Eco-Park were heroes for getting so many of the animals there to safety. 

8 hr 47 min ago

Ukraine’s Ambassador to US says Pelosi’s Kyiv visit was “symbolic”

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in London

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a recent visit to the US Capitol on April 28.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks during a recent visit to the US Capitol on April 28. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova said Sunday the recent visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Kyiv was “symbolic” and that Ukraine looks forward to the approval by the US Congress of a $33 billion supplemental funding bill aimed at supporting Ukraine over the next several months.

“We need all the assistance we can get in defensive weapons, in military support, in financial support but also in humanitarian support,” Markarova said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” “We look forward to Congress approving it” and “we count on the US in this,” she said.

Markarova reiterated Kyiv’s position that “for us there is no question Ukraine will win” the war with Russia, adding “the question is how many brave Ukrainians we will lose.”

On Saturday, Pelosi led the first official US congressional delegation to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began. 

12 hr 39 min ago

Ukraine’s prosecutor general says there’s more than 9,000 cases of war crimes being investigated

From CNN’s Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Ukraine's prosecutor general Iryna Venedictova speaks to journalists during an investigation in Bucha, Ukraine on April 12.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general Iryna Venedictova speaks to journalists during an investigation in Bucha, Ukraine on April 12. (Mikhail Palinchak/SOPA Images/Getty Images)

The prosecutor general of Ukraine said her office is opening new cases of alleged war crimes by Russian forces, with a total of 9,158 criminal cases “involving purely war crimes.”

“We have already identified specific war criminals,” said Iryna Venedictova. “There are 15 people in the Kyiv region for instance, 10 of them in Bucha. We are holding them accountable for torture, rape, and looting.”

Ukrainian prosecutors named ten Russian soldiers last week as suspected of a variety of crimes in Bucha.

On the identification of victims in Bucha, Venedictova said that some bodies cannot be identified and DNA samples are collected.

“Unfortunately, we have grounds to open new cases every day: the death of civilians, bombing, deportation of our citizens and children to the occupied territories and to the territory of the aggressor state, etc,” she said.

She said the cases covered the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy.

Venedictova added that Ukraine was receiving international assistance in its investigations.

“Now we have a team of French experts, and experts from Slovakia. We are waiting for the experts from Lithuania next Tuesday,” she said.

13 hr 30 min ago

It’s 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here’s what you need to know

From CNN’s Eliza Mackintosh

In a signal that the United States is stepping up its support for Ukraine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Kyiv with a congressional delegation on Saturday, becoming the most high-level American official to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky since the war began more than two months ago.

The visit was kept under wraps until Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers returned to Poland, where they held a press conference on Sunday and pledged to “stand with Ukraine until victory is won.”

But there was no sign of a détente over the weekend, as fighting continued to rage on the front line in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military said on Sunday that Russia was reinforcing its two-week-old offensive in the country’s industrial heartland, pouring in more weapons and military equipment.

Here are some other developments:

  • Russia’s renewed offensive: Russian artillery fire and airstrikes this weekend have pounded a large swathe of territory, from Kharkiv in the north to Zaporizhzhia region in the south, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. One of the main targets of Russian forces is the industrial town of Sloviansk in Donetsk. The General Staff said Russian forces were trying to break through Ukrainian defensive lines around Olenivka. Altogether in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, nine enemy attacks had been repulsed.
  • Mariupol evacuations: There is a small glimmer of hope for civilians trapped in Mariupol. The city council said Sunday there was a “chance” of an evacuation corridor from the besieged city to Zaporizhzhia. The news comes a day after some women and children were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant, a Ukrainian commander and Russian media said. It is unclear where they were taken. City officials say about 100,000 people remain in Mariupol.
  • The Azovstal steel plant: Nearly every building at the sprawling steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol, has been destroyed, new satellite images from Maxar Technologies show. Some civilians have been evacuated from the plant after a ceasefire was introduced, according to a Ukrainian commander inside.
  • Explosions in Odesa: Multiple explosions in the southern city of Odesa were reported soon after 6 p.m. local time by Ukrainian media and witnesses. One witness told CNN she saw at least one combat plane over the city. The runway at Odesa’s airport had been damaged, according to the Ukrainian military.
  • Russian tanks destroyed: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that the Ukrainian army has already destroyed more than 1,000 Russian tanks, nearly 200 Russian aircraft, and almost 2,500 armored fighting vehicles.
13 hr 53 min ago

Mariupol officials say there is “chance” of evacuation Sunday

From CNN’s Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

There is a “chance” to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol on Sunday, Mariupol’s city council has announced.

It urges people to gather at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) near a shopping center called “Port City” in order to evacuate them to the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

“If you have relatives or acquaintances in Mariupol, try to contact them by all ways. Call, text and say that it is possible to go to Zaporozhzhia, where it is safe,” the Council said on Telegram.

“We pray that everything works,” it added.

A local telegram channel said earlier that through 3 p.m. local time a “green corridor” would be open for citizens wishing to enter territory “controlled by the enemy in the Kamensky district.”

There are about 100,000 people still in Mariupol, even though most of the city has been severely damaged by weeks of shelling and airstrikes by Russian forces.

Some context: Mariupol is home to the Azovstal steel plant, which has been subjected to heavy Russian bombardment in recent weeks. Hundreds of people, dozens of whom are injured, are thought to be inside the steel-making complex.

Earlier Sunday, Russian state news agencies said that 46 civilians had been evacuated from the vicinity of the plant, quoting the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Their reports followed comments from a a Ukrainian commander inside the plant who said some civilians have been evacuated from the steel works after the introduction of a ceasefire.

It was hoped that these civilians, all women and children, would go to the “agreed destination” of Zaporizhzhia, Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar said.

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