Mariupol: Steel Plant Suffers ‘heaviest Airstrikes So Far’

Mariupol: Steel Plant Suffers ‘heaviest Airstrikes So Far’

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2 hr 55 min agoMariupol steel plant suffers “heaviest airstrikes so far,” Ukrainian official saysFrom CNN’s Tim Lister and Olga Voitoivych

Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 26. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)A Ukrainian official in Mariupol has told CNN that the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol — the Azovstal steel complex — has been hit by the heaviest Russian airstrikes yet.

“Last night, the plant was hit by the strongest strike so far. First, there was a massive air strike using seven Tu-22M3 aircraft. Then there were more than 50 air strikes. Apparently, either the Su-25s worked, or the Su-24s. I can’t identify since we were in the shelter. The bombing was inflicted on the place where the seriously wounded are — in the hospital,” said Mykhailo Vershynin, chief of the Mariupol Patrol Police, who was at Azovstal amid the airstrikes. “There is a suspicion that after photos from the hospital were published, the place was identified by the enemy. And there was not just a bombing, but a massive bombing strike inflicted there. There is rubble, there are people under the rubble. There are dead and wounded. That is, the wounded are injured once again,” he told CNN. “This is a violation of all norms and rules of warfare. This is a violation of the Geneva Convention.”

CNN cannot independently confirm the extent of Russian airstrikes nor the casualties they caused. 

A week ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was no need to storm the industrial area around the Azovstal steel plant. 

“I believe the proposed storming of the industrial zone is no longer necessary,” Putin told Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. 

Putin told Shoigu the industrial area should be sealed and those remaining at the plant should once again be offered to surrender in exchange for their lives and a “dignified treatment.” 

The defenders of Azovstal have repeatedly refused to give up their weapons. There are thought to be several hundred soldiers still there, and hundreds of civilians.

3 hr 19 min agoInternational Atomic Energy Agency experts find no danger at Chernobyl siteFrom CNN’s Martin Goillandeau

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), informs the press about the situation of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, shortly after his return from Chernobyl, during a special press conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on April 28. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi said Thursday while there had been “a small increase” in levels of radiation at Chernobyl, it is still “significantly below the authorized levels for workers in an environment with this type of radiation.”

IAEA experts visited the Chernobyl site over the past few days to measure radiation levels there, after the closed nuclear power plant fell back into Ukrainian hands after being taken by Russian armed forces earlier this month.

“This is three times or more lower than the authorized levels for workers in areas exposed to radiation,” Grossi told journalists at a news conference in Vienna, referring to charts showing dose levels measured by the IAEA experts.

“The situation is not one that could be judged as posing great danger to the environment or to people at the moment that we were taking these measurements,” he added.Grossi said he does not have any information regarding reports indicating that Russian soldiers could “potentially die within a few months” due to radiation experienced in the Red Forest, a highly contaminated area near Chernobyl.  

“This is the situation in terms of radiation,” the IAEA chief said. “These are the levels we measured,” he added.

3 hr 30 min agoSome of Russia’s biggest gas customers in Europe may accept Putin’s payment terms. Here’s what to know.From CNNs Anna Cooban

The Mallnow natural gas compressor station of Gascade Gastransport GmbH on April 27, in Brandenburg, Germany. The compressor station in Mallnow near the German-Polish border mainly receives Russian natural gas. (Patrick Pleul/picture alliance/Getty Images)Some of Russia’s biggest natural gas customers in Europe are preparing to accept the Kremlin’s new payment terms rather than risk being cut off by Moscow, a fate suffered by Poland and Bulgaria this week.

Gas distributors in Germany and Austria told CNN Business that they were working on ways to accept a Russian ultimatum that final payments for its gas must be made in rubles, while complying with EU sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that “unfriendly” nations would have to pay rubles, rather than the euros or dollars stated in contracts. Buyers could make euro or dollar payments into an account at Russia’s Gazprombank, which would then convert the funds into rubles and transfer them to a second account from which the payment to Russia would be made.

Germany’s Uniper said on Thursday it would continue to pay for Russian gas in euros but added that it believes a “payment conversion compliant with sanctions law” is possible.

“Uniper is in talks with its contractual partner about the concrete payment modalities and is also in close coordination with the German government,” the company said in a statement.

A Uniper spokesperson told newspaper Rheinische Post on Thursday that the company would make payments into a Russian bank in euros, instead of a bank based in Europe.

Germany has reduced its consumption of Russian gas to 35% of imports from 55% before the war in Ukraine, but says it needs to keep buying from Moscow at least until next year to avoid a deep recession.

Uniper said that it cannot cope without Russian gas in the short term.

“This would have dramatic consequences for our economy,” it said in its statement.

Austrian energy firm OMV (OMVJF) said on Thursday that it had considered the new payment request from Russian gas giant Gazprom and was “now working on a sanctions-compliant solution.”

Putin on Wednesday made good on his threat to cut off countries that refuse the new payment terms. Gazprom announced it had suspended gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland because they had refused to pay in rubles, stoking fears that other EU countries — including major gas importers Germany and Italy — could be next.

Sanctions loophole? There could be a workaround. The European Commission issued guidance to EU member states last week saying that is “appears possible” that buyers could comply with the new Russian rules without getting into conflict with EU law.

EU governments are likely to allow the payment mechanism to go ahead, Eurasia Group said in a note on Thursday.

Go deeper on the story here.

3 hr 40 min agoMore than 1,000 civilian bodies recovered in Kyiv region since Russia’s invasion started, police chief says From CNN’s Hande Atay Alam

Coffins being buried during a funeral ceremony at a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 18. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)The bodies of 1,150 civilians have been recovered in Ukraine’s Kyiv region since Russia’s invasion started, Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebyton said Wednesday.

“As a result of the clearing operation and the work of detective groups in Kyiv Region, we have found and examined 1,150 bodies of civilian citizens who were killed and handed them over to medical forensics,” Nebyton said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.Nebyton emphasized that “these were civilians, not military, who had no involvement with Territorial Defense or other military entities.”

The majority of casualties are from the Bucha region and Bucha leads in the number of bodies they have found, Nebyton said, adding that “50-70% die

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