Ukraine war live updates: Evacuations under way in Mariupol, UN says

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Smoke rises from the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine.

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An effort to evacuate people from a steel plant in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol was under way on Sunday to bring people out of the steel plant where the city’s last defenders have been holding out, the UN confirmed to Euronews.

An estimated 100,000 civilians remain in the port city which has faced constant shelling since early on in the war.

Russia’s offensive in the east of the country has continued as Ukrainian forces fight village by village to stall their advance.

Read the latest updates from the war in Ukraine in the blog below:

17:23

UN confirms safe passage operation in Mariupol ongoing

A safe passage operation is ongoing at the steel plant in Mariupol, the UN confirmed to Euronews.

“The convoy to evacuate civilians started on 29 April, travelled some 230 kilometres and reached the plant in Mariupol on Saturday morning, local time,” said UN spokesman Jens Laerke.

He said that no further details could be shared “as it could jeopardise the safety of the civilians and the convoy.

16:48

Zelenskyy confirms 100 civilians being evacuated from steel plant in Mariupol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that a group of about 100 people were being evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol where the last Ukrainian troops have been holding out in the besieged port city.

“Tomorrow we’ll meet them in Zaporizhzhia,” said Zelenskyy in a tweet.

15:46

Evacuations under way in Mariupol

An effort to evacuate people from a steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol was under way on Sunday, the United Nations said.

UN humanitarian spokesman Saviano Abreu told The Associated Press that the operation to bring people out of the sprawling Azovstal steel plant was being done with the International Committee for the Red Cross and in coordination with Ukrainian and Russian officials.

As many as 100,000 people are believed to still be in blockaded Mariupol, including up to 1,000 civilians who were hunkered down with an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters beneath the Soviet-era steel plant.

(AP)

15:41

Residents in Kharkiv once again urged to stay sheltered due to shelling

Residents in Kharkiv are being urged to stay sheltered due to “intense shelling”, the regional governor said on Telegram.

Oleh Synegubov urged residents particularly in areas of northeastern Kharkiv, such as Saltivka, to shelter on Sunday.

He said earlier that rescuers had extinguished 15 fires in the region caused by shelling.

The second-largest city in Ukraine has been subject to heavy Russian shelling.

14:27

NATO exercises begin along its eastern flank

Poland’s armed forces said that military exercises involving thousands of NATO soldiers have begun.

The exercises are aimed at improving the security of the alliance’s eastern flank.

Poland’s military appealed to the public on Sunday not to publish information or photos of the columns of military vehicles expected to move through the country in the coming weeks. It warned that “ill-considered activity” could harm the alliance’s security.

The Polish Army said in a statement that 18,000 soldiers from over 20 countries were taking part in the Defender Europe 2022 and Swift Response 2022 exercises that are taking place in Poland and eight other countries.

The exercises are scheduled to run from 1 May to 27 May.

(AP)

14:24

Russian gas deliveries to Europe fall 27% in January-April year on year

Deliveries of Russian gas to EU countries and Turkey fell sharply between January and April compared to the same period in 2021, while those to China exploded, Gazprom announced on Sunday.

Exports to the EU and Turkey amounted to 50.1 billion cubic meters, or 26.9% less than in the same period of 2021, Gazprom, Russia’s majority state-owned energy company, said.

Gazprom says it will continue to supply gas “in full compliance with contractual obligations”.

(AFP)

13:05

Pope Francis calls for humanitarian corridors in Mariupol

Pope Francis on Sunday repeated his call for humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians trapped in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

“My thoughts are with the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city of Mary, bombarded and destroyed in a barbaric way. I renew the request that safe humanitarian corridors be set up for the people trapped in the steel mill of that city,” the Pope said during his Angelus prayer.

“I suffer and cry, thinking of the suffering of the Ukrainian population and in particular of the weakest, the elderly and children,” the Pope said, according to the Vatican.

He asked people not to surrender to the logic of violence and to take the path of dialogue and peace.

12:18

Russian troll farm spreading lies on social media, UK says

A Russian troll farm is spreading lies on social media and “in comment sections of popular websites,” the UK foreign office said in a statement released on Sunday based on government-funded research.

The foreign office said cyber soldiers were targeting people across several countries including the UK, South Africa and India.

They accused the cyber teams of working from an old factory in St Petersburg, Russia, and said the operation was suspected to be linked to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the founder of an infamous bot farm.

The foreign office said these trolls were attempting to influence opinions of the war in Ukraine and had targeted senior UK ministers and other leaders.

10:57

Zelenskyy urges Russian troops not to fight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy switched into Russian in his nightly video address to urge soldiers not to fight in Ukraine, saying even their generals expected that thousands of them would die.

He said Russia has been recruiting new troops “with little motivation and little combat experience” for the units that were gutted during the early weeks of the war so these units can be thrown back into battle.

He said Russian commanders fully understand that thousands of them will die and thousands more will be wounded in the coming weeks.

“The Russian commanders are lying to their soldiers when they tell them they can expect to be held seriously responsible for refusing to fight and then also don’t tell them, for example, that the Russian army is preparing additional refrigerator trucks for storing the bodies. They don’t tell them about the new losses the generals expect,” Zelenskyy said late Saturday.

“Every Russian soldier can still save his own life. It’s better for you to survive in Russia than to perish on our land,” he said.

(AP)

10:13

Russia seeks to ‘legitimise its control’ over Kherson, UK says

After seizing the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson in early March, “Russia has sought to legitimise its control of the city” by installing a pro-Russian administration, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

Russia announced a four-month currency transition in the city to the rouble.

“The Russian rouble is due to be used in Kherson from today,” the UK said in its latest defence intelligence update.

“These statements are likely indicative of Russian intent to exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term,” the defence ministry added.

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