Steve May 5, 2022

Preparations for Russian Victory Day parade in Mariupol underway

Russian forces are preparing for a parade in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukrainian forces have claimed.

The parade is expected to happen on May 9, or “Victory Day,” which is a public holiday in Russia and commemorates the defeat of the Nazis in 1945.

In a statement on Telegram, Ukraine’s intelligence service said that Mariupol would be used as “the center of celebrations,” adding “the main avenues of the city are [being] urgently cleaned, the debris and the bodies of the dead removed, as well as unexploded ordnance.”

Russia wants to bring Azovstal steel plant as a ‘gift’ to Putin, Ukraine official says

Oleksiy Arestovych, Ukraine’s advisor to the president, said Thursady that Russia’s occupation of the Azovstal steel plant is an effort to present a “gift” to Vladimir Putin ahead of its May 9 holiday, but the attacks are getting met with heavy resistance by Ukrainian troops. 

“They are preparing to declare victory in Mariupol. I don’t think they will succeed,” Arestovych said during a national telethon.

Arestovych said that Russian soldiers in the steel plant “were knocked out by Ukrainian defenders.” Heavy fighting is raging inside the Azovstal steel plant with many of the last Ukrainian civilians and soldiers inside.

Belarus “doing everything” to stop war in Ukraine, says president

Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko has said he is doing “everything” to stop the war in Ukraine. Lukashenko is a close ally of Putin’s, and Belarus is currently under economic sanctions from the U.S., U.K. and E.U. for its support of the Russian invasion.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Lukashenko said “thanks to yours truly, me that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun.”

But he also said that he hadn’t expected Russia’s “operation” in Ukraine to “drag on this way,” accusing Ukraine of “provoking Russia” and refusing to negotiate.

Earlier this week, a period of snap drills by the Belarusian military near the border raised alarms in Ukraine. Lukashenko told AP that the drills “didn’t threaten anyone.”

Kremlin says the U.S. providing intelligence to Ukraine won’t stop Russia from achieving its goals

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Western attempts to transmit intelligence to Ukrainian armed forces will not prevent Russia from achieving its goals in Ukraine.

While the U.S., U.K. and NATO’s transfer of intelligence and weaponry do not “contribute to the rapid completion of the operation,” he said, “they are not able to prevent the achievement of the goals set for the special military operation.”

The New York Times had earlier reported that the U.S. was providing Ukrainian authorities with intelligence data that helped it strike key Russian officers. NBC News has not verified that reporting.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said on Thursday that the U.S. provides “battlefield intelligence” to the Ukrainians but does not with the “intent to kill Russian generals.”

“No solution” to global food insecurity without Russia and Ukraine, U.N. chief Says

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said on Wednesday that the problem of global food insecurity could not be solved without restoring Ukrainian agricultural production and Russian food and fertilizer production, Reuters reported.

During his maiden visit to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, Guterres warned that the war in Ukraine was “setting in motion a three-dimensional crisis that is devastating global food, energy and financial systems for developing countries.”

“There is really no true solution to the problem of global food security without bringing back the agriculture production of Ukraine and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world markets despite the war,” he said, pledging an extra $351 million as part of the overall $1.1 billion humanitarian aid package for Nigeria.

Guterres’ most recent warnings come after months of price rises and shortages in countries across the African continent and the Middle East, including Lebanon, Egypt and Somalia.

Thousands of men face torture in Mariupol’s filtration camps, local mayor adviser says

Thousands of men have been detained in filtration camps of Mariupol, facing torture and forced labor, Petro Andriushchenko, adviser to the Mariupol mayor, said on Thursday on Telegram.

Four weeks ago, all men were removed from the Mariupol districts of Guglino, Myrnyi and Volonterivka, he said, with two thousand people being placed in schools and clubs of Bezimyane and Kozatske villages in Novoazovsk district.

These men are forced to sleep on the floors in the corridors with lack of hygiene or access to medical care, he said. According to Andriushchenko, a man died in Kozatske after the Russians refused to call an ambulance. A single sink of cold water is shared by thousands of detainees who receive only porridge as food, he said.

“In the absence of any of the detainees, the occupiers promise to intensify torture and execute other detainees,” he said. Each detainee, including those sick and disabled, is involved in “landscaping work” in the villages, he said.

NBC News has not verified these claims.

If there is hell in the world, it is in Azvostal, advisor to Mariupol Mayor says

Shelling of the besieged Azvostal steel plant continued “non-stop” overnight into Thursday, according to Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor. Russian forces breached the perimeter of the plant on Wednesday, according to fighters inside.

“Shelling and assault without a break, even at night with the adjustment of fire from drones. In some areas, hostilities are already beyond the fence of the plant,” Andriushchenko said, warning that “in some areas, hostilities are already beyond the fence of the plant.”

On Wednesday night, residential neighborhoods near the plant were again closed to residents, who have been forced to “evacuate urgently on their own without warning.”

“The last 11 square kilometers [4 miles] of freedom in Mariupol have been turned into hell,” he said.

Zelenskyy announces new fundraiser

The Ukrainian government has launched a public fundraising platform to support the invaded country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced in a video message on Thursday. 

The United24 global initiative will help raise funds “to protect our defenders, to save our civilians and help rebuild Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said. 

All donations will be filed to the national bank of Ukraine and other relevant ministries, the president announced. 

Mariupol evacuations will continue, Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says

Azovstal battle rages on

Smoke rises from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine on May 4, 2022.Alexei Alexandrov / AP

Pro-Russian Ukrainian politician and blogger detained in Spain

Pro-Russian blogger and politician Anatoly Shariy was detained in Spain on May 4, according to Ukraine’s security services.

Shariy is suspected of high treason by the Ukrainian authorities.

“He carried out illegal activities to the detriment of Ukraine’s national security in the information sphere. There is reason to believe that Anatoly Shariy acted on behalf of foreign structures,” the Security Service of Ukraine said in a statement on Facebook.

Shariy was a former journalist who fled Ukraine in 2012.

More than 300 people from Mariupol arrive in Zaporizhzhia

Mariupol’s city council said 344 evacuees arrived in the central Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia late Wednesday as part of an international humanitarian effort to get as many civilians out of the war-ravaged port city as possible.

The council shared several short videos in a Telegram poston Thursday of what appear to be evacuees arriving in buses in darkness.

“Most of them are women, children and the elderly from Mariupol,” the post said. “The evacuation was supported by a United Nations mission and the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

Mariupol is almost completely controlled by Russian forces, with the Azovstal steelworks plant remaining the only holdout of Ukrainian resistance, where Ukrainian officials have said civilians still remain in the plant’s underground tunnels and bunkers alongside Ukrainian fighters.

Missiles strike Russian controlled oil depot in eastern Ukraine

Missiles struck an oil facility in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Makiivka, 10 miles east of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 4, 2022.AP

Japan says difficult to immediately follow Russia oil embargo

It would be difficult for Japan to immediately follow a move to cut off Russian oil imports over the invasion of Ukraine, a government official said Wednesday.

Koichi Hagiuda, the Japanese minister of economy, trade and industry, made the remark during a visit to Washington, after the European Union’s executive proposed the toughest package of sanctions yet against Moscow, including the embargo on crude oil.

“Given Japan has its limit on resources, we would face some difficulty to keep in step immediately” with other countries, Hagiuda told reporters.

Also on Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he could not accept Moscow’s decision to ban him and 62 other Japanese citizens from entry into Russia, and that Russia bore full responsibility for driving bilateral ties to where they are now.

Russia’s foreign ministry earlier announced sanctions against 63 Japanese officials, journalists and professors for engaging in “unacceptable rhetoric” against Moscow.

The decision came after Japan imposed sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and other political and business leaders.

Belarus deploys ground forces for seasonal exercises, U.K. says

Belarusian ground forcers were observed deploying for seasonal exercises, with Russia expected to use them as a distraction for Ukrainian forces, according to the British defense ministry.

“Russia will likely seek to inflate the threat posed to Ukraine by these exercises in order to fix Ukrainian forces in the North, preventing them from being committed to the battle for the Donbas,” the ministry said in an intelligence update published Thursday.

The ministry said that deviation from these exercises, which may pose a threat, is not currently anticipated. The current deployment is line with seasonal norms as Belarus enters its winter training cycle culminating in May, it said.

At least 5 dead and 25 injured in shelling across Donetsk and Luhansk, local officials say

Dozens of people were injured with five dead after Russian rockets and artillery struck regions across Donetsk and Luhansk, local officials said on Thursday.

“As a result of the night shelling of Kramatorsk – at least 25 civilians were injured. Six of them need medical care in the hospital,” Kramatorsk Mayor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post. “The rockets damaged 9 houses, a school and numerous civilian infrastructure.”

Eighteen rounds of artillery shelling occurred in Luhansk on Wednesday, including the cities of Severodonetsk, Popasna and Lysychansk, said regional administration head Serhii Haidai in a Telegram post. Bodies of five shelling victims were also found, he said.

NBC News has not verified the claims.

Check points in Mariupol

A separatist soldier from the Donetsk People's Republic stands at a check point in Mariupol on May 4, 2022.
A separatist soldier from the Donetsk People’s Republic stands at a check point in Mariupol on May 4, 2022. Alexei Alexandrov / AP

Ukraine asks U.S. for anti-ship missiles, drones, rocket launchers

Ukraine is asking the Biden administration for anti-ship missiles to secure ports that have been blocked by Russia’s navy, as well as more capable drones and multiple rocket launcher systems that can strike Russian forces at a longer distance, according to Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conveyed the request to Crow and other lawmakers who visited Kyiv over the weekend, who then relayed the wish list to President Joe Biden directly, Crow told NBC News. 

Ukraine said it needed U.S.-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles or similar weapons to free up the use of the Black Sea port of Odesa and other ports for the export of millions of tons of grain and food. The ports are under a de facto naval blockade by Russian forces off the coast, Crow said.

Real the full story here.

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