Russia-Ukraine war: UN evacuation under way from Mariupol steelworks; Pelosi dismisses fears of provoking Russia – live | Ukraine

[ad_1]

United Nations evacuation under way from Mariupol steelworks

A UN operation to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol is under way, a spokesperson has confirmed.

Officials reached the factory on Saturday, and the exercise is being coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ukraine and Russia.

According to Reuters, the UN’s Saviano Abreu added that further information was not being shared to ensure the safety of evacuees. It’s believed about 1,000 people are at the site.

Denmark and Sweden say a Russian spyplane violated their air space.

From AFP:

Officials said the plane entered Danish airspace on Friday evening east of the Danish Baltic island of Bornholm before flying into Swedish airspace.

“The Russian ambassador is summoned to the foreign ministry tomorrow,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted on Sunday, referring to a “new Russian violation of Danish airspace”.

The Swedish foreign ministry also said the Russian ambassador would be summoned in Stockholm.

“There exist established procedures for this kind of case. It concerns notably summoning the representative of the implicated nation to the foreign ministry,” it said in an email.

Kofod added it was “totally unacceptable and particularly worrying in the current situation”, alluding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions with NATO, where Denmark is a member.

Henrik Mortensen, a Danish Defence Command press officer, told AFP on Sunday about the incident.

“It was a reconnaissance plane that was in our airspace for a very brief moment. Two Danish F-16 immediately intervened,” Mortensen said, adding that such incidents are rare.

Denmark is a member of NATO, unlike Sweden where a debate is taking place over whether it should abandon its non-aligned status and join the alliance.

Questioned by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, the Swedish defence minister said there was no proof that the breach was linked to current discussions on Stockholm eventually joining NATO.

Russia has already signaled that Stockholm and Helsinki, which is also contemplating membership, should consider the consequences of such a move on bilateral relations and Europe’s overall security architecture.

Paula Erizanu

Inside Transnistria, separatist authorities have kept quiet about the war raging in Ukraine. “Transnistria’s leaders are being cautious,” said the Moldovan journalist Alina Radu. “They are not cheering on the war, but nor are they criticising Russia’s military aggression.”

Since the death of its Soviet-era industry, Transnistria’s economy has been dominated by a small elite. Russia provides Transnistria with free gas, which gives businesses in the region a competitive advantage over Moldovan businesses.

Its largest conglomerate, which controls everything from petrol stations to a cognac distillery – and the football club FC Sheriff – was co-founded by the former KGB agent Victor Gușan, who also has a Ukrainian passport and owns property in Kyiv.

“Transnistrian leaders are under a lot of pressure,” said the Moldovan journalist Alina Radu. “For the first time, they are isolated. Both Moldova and Ukraine have governments that are not pro-Russian. Transnistrian elites have two options: to follow the orders of Putin, the most terrible dictator today, or to have a prosperous future with Europe.”

Analysts in Chișinău warn that Russian security and propaganda networks are spreading.

A recent report from the Royal United Services Institute, said Russian spy agency the FSB aimed “to destabilise Moldova to tie down Ukrainian forces on the southern border, to counter growing pro-European sentiment in the country, and to show the west that support for Ukraine risks wider consequences, including in the Balkans”.

Valeriu Pașa, from the Moldovan thinktank Watchdog said that Moscow had overestimated vestigial pro-Moscow sentiment in the country.

“Russia’s aim is to create tension,” he said, pointing to debunked viral reports that Romanian troops had been deployed near the border with Moldova.

But Moldova, with a population of just 2.5 million, has already suffered from mass emigration, and such pressures still had the potential to cause more harm, said Radu. “I am afraid that the tension might generate yet another harmful wave of emigration – just as the government has been trying to bring back the diaspora.”

Here’s more background on Transnistria, and why is it being drawn into Ukraine war:

Russia’s online trolling operation is becoming increasingly decentralised and is gaining “incredible traction” on TikTok with disinformation aimed at sowing doubt over events in Ukraine, a US social media researcher has warned, reports the Guardian’s Rob Booth.

Darren Linvill, professor at Clemson University, South Carolina, who has been studying the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll farm operation since 2017, said it was succeeding in creating more authentic-seeming posts.

His comments came as the UK government cited unpublished that showed Russia was “using Telegram to actively recruit and coordinate new supporters who then target the social media profiles of Kremlin critics – spamming them with pro-Putin and pro-war comments.”

Linvill said this was “highly consistent with what we have seen the IRA previously do, given how it understands the power of authenticity”.

It was reported that targets have included Boris Johnson’s social media accounts as well as accounts of bands and musicians including Daft Punk, David Guetta and Tiësto. The government said it had shared the research with the social media platforms.

That’s all from me, Jennifer Rankin, as I pass over to Maanvi Singh, who will be keeping you informed with the latest news on the war in Ukraine.

The leader of the Democrats in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, has said he plans to add provisions to the $33bn Ukraine aid package that will allow the United States to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets and send money derived from them to Ukraine.

In comments reported by Reuters, Schumer said:

Ukraine needs all the help it can get and, at the same time, we need all the assets we can put together to give Ukraine the aid it needs.

The US president, Joe Biden, last week proposed $33bn in military, economic and humanitarian aid, more than twice the US assistance to Ukraine to date.

A senior Republican lawmaker said on Sunday that the request was likely to be approved swiftly. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and ranking member of the House foreign affairs committee, told US media that he expected the chamber would look favourably on the request.

Time is of the essence. The next two to three weeks are going to be very pivotal and very decisive in this war. And I don’t think we have a lot of time to waste. I wish we had [Biden’s request] a little bit sooner, but we have it now.

Paula Erizanu

When a string of mysterious explosions hit government buildings in Transnistria, the Moscow-backed separatist region of Moldova, there was no immediate claim of responsibility. But for Pasha, a 24-year old journalist from the breakaway region’s capital, Tiraspol, this week’s blasts were a clear sign that it was time to get out.

“There was a chance that there would be more attacks, and it’s no fun waiting to find out where would be hit next,” he said. Adding to the uncertainty were growing rumours that men in the region would be mobilised to fight alongside Russian troops across the border in Ukraine.

So Pasha, his mother and his friend, fellow journalist Maxim, 23, packed their essentials and drove to the Moldovan capital, Chișinău, where they are staying with relatives. They are hoping to return home, but other friends who left Transnistria have already fled to Turkey, Poland or the Czech Republic.

Paula Erizanu reports from Chișinău on the growing concern that Ukraine’s neighbour Moldova could be dragged into the conflict.

Eighty civilians including women and children have been evacuated from the Mariupol steelworks, according to Russia’s defence ministry.

Citing the ministry, Russian state news agency Ria Novosti said 80 people had been evacuated to Bezimenne in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the eastern Ukrainian territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. They were said to be receiving food, accommodation and medical care.

One person was injured in a fire on a Russian defence ministry facility in the southern Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, Belgorod’s regional governor has said, Reuters reports.

Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said a local resident suffered minor injuries and his life was not in danger. Images posted to social media showed a large funnel of smoke rising above the ground. Reuters was not able to verify the reports.

Russia last month accused Ukraine of a helicopter attack on a fuel depot in Belgorod, for which Kyiv denied responsibility.

Pictures have emerged of the first people to leave the area near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, after the UN confirmed that an evacuation operation was underway.

Azovstal steel plant employee Natalia Usmanova (L), 37, who was evacuated from Mariupol, is seen along with other evacuees near a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine May 1, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Azovstal steel plant employee Natalia Usmanova (left), 37, who was evacuated from Mariupol, along with other evacuees near a temporary accommodation centre today in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk region, Ukraine. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
Civilians who left the area near Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walk accompanied by a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne in Russian-separatist eastern Ukraine. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Civilians who left the area near Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walk accompanied by a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne in Russian-separatist eastern Ukraine. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
Civilians who left the area near Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walk accompanied by a service member of pro-Russian troops at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in eastern Ukraine. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Civilians who left the area near Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol walk accompanied by a service member of pro-Russian troops at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in eastern Ukraine. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has ratcheted up pressure on the European Union, by insisting that the next round of sanctions against Russia includes an oil embargo.

He was speaking to the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, who tweeted that work on the EU’s sixth round of sanctions against Russia was “ongoing”.

As the live blog reported earlier, the EU is discussing banning Russian oil imports by the end of 2022. The timing still has to be agreed by EU member states, who will discuss the proposal on Wednesday.

Kuleba also said there was “no alternative to granting Ukraine EU candidate status”, the opening step in membership talks. But many EU member states, especially in western Europe, oppose speeding up the EU’s lengthy application process.

I spoke with @JosepBorrellF on the next round of EU sanctions on Russia which must include an oil embargo. I also emphasized there can be no alternative to granting Ukraine EU candidate status. We paid separate attention to further safe evacuation from besieged Mariupol.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 1, 2022

Call w/@DmytroKuleba to discuss continued EU support to #Ukraine

Work is ongoing on the next package of sanctions

EU-Ukraine Association Council will be a key moment to advance even further our partnership

Situation in Mariupol is appalling, humanitarian evacuations urgent.

— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) May 1, 2022

Germany has announced a sharp reduction in its imports of Russian fossil fuels, just days before the EU is expected to include oil in its sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

Germany’s economy ministry on Sunday published statistics showing how consumption of Russian imported oil, gas and coal had fallen sharply since the invasion of Ukraine.

Here are the main points summarised by a German government official:

Germany is reducing its energy dependence on Russia rapidly:

⬇️ Imports of Russian oil down from around 35% to 12%.

⬇️ Imports of Russian gas down from 55% to around 35%.

⬇️ Imports of Russian coal down from 50% to about 8%.

More (in German): https://t.co/LJYZQZAkcX

— Sebastian Fischer (@SFischer_EU) May 1, 2022

Germany plans to wean itself off Russian gas by 2024, and oil and coal much sooner.

Ukraine’s national grid operator has said it has restored “reliable” power supply in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, around the site of the 1986 nuclear reactor disaster, the Associated Press reports.

“In the afternoon, the last necessary 330 kV power transmission line was put into operation,” the state-owned Ukrenergo wrote in a Telegram post Saturday.

According to the same post, Ukrenergo also restored another 330 kV line in the northern Kyiv region, helping stabilise the energy supply in the capital. It said the reconstruction of further transmission lines in and around Kyiv remains underway.

Russian forces seized the plant on the first day of the war, while the Kremlin appeared indifferent or unaware of the risks posed to its soldiers.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has pledged to continue supporting Ukraine with money, aid and weapons, saying a pacifist approach to the war is “outdated.”

His remarks to a May Day rally in Dusseldorf were an implicit rebuke to a group of intellectuals, lawyers and creatives who condemned Russia’s war of aggression in an open letter, but urged Scholz not to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Scholz said:

I respect all pacifism, I respect all attitudes, but it must seem cynical to a citizen of Ukraine to be told to defend himself against Putin’s aggression without weapons.

The open letter on Change.org warning of a third world war has been signed by more than 122,000 people.

In a media interview published on Sunday, Scholz defended himself against critics that have accused him of not doing enough to help Ukraine.

Summary

Here’s a roundup of the latest developments in Ukraine, as a United Nations-led evacuation of a steel plant in Mariupol is under way.

  • Civilians are being evacuated from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, where about 1,000 people are thought to be sheltering. The first group of 100 was being led away by late afternoon on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The effort is led by the Red Cross, and coordinated with Ukraine and Russia.
  • Two groups of nearly 60 people have already been evacuated to the village of Bezimenne in Donetsk, with Reuters witnessing buses arriving on Saturday and Sunday.
  • US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has become the highest-ranking US official to visit Ukraine since the outbreak of war, where she met president Zelenskiy.
  • In a press conference afterwards, Pelosi said that the US would not be bullied. “If they are making threats, you cannot back down,” she said.
  • German chancellor Olaf Scholz has rejected criticism of Germany’s reluctance to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, as an opinion poll by Sunday newspaper Bild Am Sonntag found a majority of Germans disagreed with his approach.
  • The governor of the north eastern city of Kharkiv has urged people not to leave shelters on Sunday due to intense shelling.
  • Pope Francis described the war in Ukraine as a “macabre regression of humanity” that makes him “suffer and cry”, in a Sunday noon address in St Peter’s Square.
  • Russia’s defence ministry has confirmed an attack on an airfield near Odesa on Saturday. It said its forces had destroyed a runway and hangar at an airfield, which contained weapons supplied by the US and EU.
  • One person has been injured in a fire at a Russian defence facility in the Belgorod region which borders Ukraine.

I am now handing over to my colleague Jennifer Rankin, who will continue to bring you news from the conflict.

A group of 100 Ukrainian civilians are on their way out of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol as part of the UN evacuation, according to the country’s president.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a tweet that they were heading to a “controlled area”.

Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began. The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area. Tomorrow we’ll meet them in Zaporizhzhia. Grateful to our team! Now they, together with #UN, are working on the evacuation of other civilians from the plant.

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 1, 2022

Kate Connolly

Kate Connolly

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has defended himself against accusations that his approach to Russian aggression has been hesitant, insisting his decisions followed close consultation with Germany’s allies and sought to avoid any suspicion that the country was “going it alone”.

Scholz has faced fierce criticism even from within his own government and last week came under particular fire from the opposition leader, Friedrich Merz, who accused him of weak leadership and of “procrastination, dithering and timidity”. On Sunday it was reported that Merz was planning to travel to Kyiv on Monday.

Scholz appeared to bow to immense domestic and international pressure last week by announcing that Germany would deliver heavy weaponry to Ukraine, in the form of self-propelled anti-aircraft systems, in what was seen as a sharp policy U-turn.

Read more:

Jennifer Rankin

Jennifer Rankin

The European Union could phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year, under the latest set of sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s war machine being discussed in Brussels.

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has said for weeks that the EU is working on sanctions targeting Russian oil, but the key question is how and when the commodity is phased out.

Under a draft proposal discussed with national capitals on Saturday, the Commission has proposed ending Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, according to EU sources.

One senior EU diplomat said the plan was to “find a clever solution that would hit Russia as much as possible and avoid a price hike” that would harm European consumers.

Ukraine’s most ardent supporters in the EU, such as Poland and the Baltic states, will push for a more rapid phase out of Russian oil. Germany and Austria have been cautious in ending Russian fossil fuel imports quickly, but Berlin shifted its position last week when the vice-chancellor, Robert Habeck, said the EU’s largest economy could cope with a Russian oil embargo.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has said ending Russian oil and gas imports was “a red line”, but diplomats are hopeful Budapest will fall into line, now Germany is amenable to an oil embargo.

Ambassadors from the EU’s 27 member states are set to discuss a legal text of the sanctions law on Wednesday.

Germany announced on Sunday that it had sharply reduced its dependency on Russian oil, coal and gas. Russia now supplies 12% of Germany’s oil imports, compared to 35% before the Russian invasion, according to an economy ministry statement.

Coal from Russia has dropped to 8% of German coal imports, from 45%, while gas imports are down to 35% compared to 55% before the war. Germany plans to wean itself off Russian gas by 2024, and oil and coal much sooner.

Before the invasion, Russia supplied about a quarter (26%) of the EU’s oil imports.

The EU agreed last month to end Russian imports of coal, but disappointed those looking for tougher sanctions, by delaying the measure until mid-August.

United Nations evacuation under way from Mariupol steelworks

A UN operation to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol is under way, a spokesperson has confirmed.

Officials reached the factory on Saturday, and the exercise is being coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ukraine and Russia.

According to Reuters, the UN’s Saviano Abreu added that further information was not being shared to ensure the safety of evacuees. It’s believed about 1,000 people are at the site.

A Russian defence facility near the border with Ukraine is currently on fire, according to the region’s governor.

Vyacheslav Gladkov posted on Telegram that there were no details yet about damage or casualties at the building in the southern region of Belgorod.

Reuters reports that images on social media showed a large funnel of smoke rising above the ground.



[ad_2]

Source link

Prev
Malik | Anupama Chopra’s Review | Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan | Film Companion
Next
A True Gentleman’s Choice
Comments are closed.