New Battles Break Out In The Mariupol Steel Plant Where Hundreds Of Civilians Are Still Trapped Along With The Last Ukrainian Defenders In The City, Mayor Says

New Battles Break Out In The Mariupol Steel Plant Where Hundreds Of Civilians Are Still Trapped Along With The Last Ukrainian Defenders In The City, Mayor Says

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3 hr 1 min agoMariupol mayor says contact has been lost with Ukrainian forces in Azovstal plant as heavy fighting continuesFrom CNN’s Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

This satellite image shows damage at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 4. (Planet Labs PBC/AP)Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said that new battles have broken out at the Azovstal plant, where hundreds of civilians are still trapped inside along with the last Ukrainian defenders in the city.

“Today there are heavy battles on the territory of our fortress, on the territory of Azovstal. Our brave guys are defending this fortress, but it is very difficult, because heavy artillery and tanks are firing all over the fortress; aviation is working, ships have approached and are also firing on the fortress,” Boichenko said.

Speaking on Ukrainian television, Boichenko said there were 30 children trapped at the plant still waiting to be rescued.

“They are waiting for a new negotiation procedure and a new evacuation mission,” he said.

“We must understand that people are still dying. Unfortunately, enemy aviation and artillery are working and firing on the fortress constantly,” he said. Two young women were killed at Azovstal earlier this week, he added. He also said contact had been lost with the Ukrainian defenders.

“Unfortunately, today there is no connection with the guys, there is no connection to understand what is happening, whether they are safe or not. Yesterday there was a connection with them; today, no more.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said the Russian Armed Forces were not “storming” the Azovstal plant but described it instead as suppressing “attempts by militants” to take new firing positions. 

“There has been a public order by the supreme commander [Russian President Vladimir Putin] to cancel the storming; there is no storming,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday in a call with reporters. 

Peskov added: “We see that there are aggravations associated with the fact that the militants go to firing positions. These attempts are suppressed very quickly. There is nothing else to say here yet.”

3 hr 45 min agoIt’s 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here’s what you need to knowEuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday the measures would form part of a sixth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. (Philipp von Ditfurth/picture alliance/Getty Images)Both the European Union and Australia revealed more sanctions on Russian officials Wednesday as diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine continue.

Russian forces launched missile strikes that hit at least six infrastructure targets across Ukraine, but they are still struggling to make progress in their offensive in the east of the country.

Here’s what you need to know:

European Union reveals further measures: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a raft of measures including a ban on Russian oil on Wednesday. Other proposals include listing individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine; removing Russia’s largest bank Sberbank and two other companies from the SWIFT system, a messaging service that connects financial institutions around the world; and banning three Russian state-owned broadcasters from European airwaves.More evacuations from Mariupol: Fresh evacuations from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol got underway on Wednesday, according to a local official, who did not provide a figure for the number of people involved. A convoy of buses departed Mariupol for Zaporizhzhia in efforts led by the United Nations and the Red Cross, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk Region Military Administration, announced on Telegram. Pope condemns Russian orthodox leader: Pope Francis warned the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, not to become “Putin’s altar boy” in an interview this week. In his strongest words to date against the pro-war Patriarch, Francis also slammed Kirill for endorsing Russia’s stated reasons for invading Ukraine.Russian forces largely stalled in eastern Ukraine: Despite heavy artillery fire on a number of fronts, Russian forces have made few advances toward their goal of securing all of Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east of the country, the Ukrainian military said Wednesday.Russia targets infrastructure: Russian missile attacks on Tuesday night were designed to destroy transport infrastructure, according to the Ukrainian military. Cruise missiles hit at least a half-dozen targets across central and western Ukraine in what appears to have been an attempt to hamper the transit of military equipment and supplies. The Ukrainian railway system reported that more than 40 trains were delayed following the attacks.Australia imposes more sanctions: Further sanctions and travel bans against members of Russia’s parliament and Ukrainian separatists were announced Wednesday in a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The new listings will target 110 individuals, including 34 “senior members of the Russian-led movements” in Donetsk and Luhansk.US hoping to attract highly skilled Russians: US President Joe Biden has asked the US Congress to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to make it easier for highly educated Russians to obtain visas to work in the US. Tens of thousands of such people have reportedly fled Russia since the war, and the US administration is hoping to take advantage of that brain drain, officials said. Biden administration says it won’t allow Russia to “co-opt” Victory Day: White House National Security Council senior director for Europe Amanda Sloat told CNN the Biden administration does not want to allow Putin to “co-opt” Monday’s Victory Day by tying it to the invasion of Ukraine. She declined to weigh in on intelligence indicating Putin may use the holiday to rally support for his invasion of Ukraine, including possible steps to formally declare war on its neighbor or annex the Donbas and Luhansk regions.4 hr 46 min agoZelensky asks Bulgaria to help with repairs of Ukrainian military equipmentFrom CNN’s Radina Gigova in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked Bulgaria to help Ukraine with repairs of military equipment damaged in the ongoing war with Russia, Bulgaria’s National Television (BNT) reported Wednesday.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Sofia, Vitaly Moskalenko, has presented a letter from Zelensky to Bulgaria’s Parliament, in which the Ukrainian President says authorities in Kyiv hope Bulgaria will help repair Ukrainian military equipment and continue assisting Ukrainians fleeing the war.

Zelensky says he hopes Bulgaria will continue providing humanitarian aid, including medicines, clothing and food.

In the letter, Zelensky says he hopes energy cooperation between the two countries and the export of electricity and gas from Ukraine to Bulgaria will continue, according to BNT.

Zelensky also says he hopes Bulgaria will continue supporting Ukraine on its path to EU integration, according to BNT.

The Bulgarian Parliament will decide later on Wednesday whether to support Ukraine with “military-technical equipment,” according to BNT.

Some background: Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria last week, dramatically escalating its response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Russian state energy giant Gazprom said in a statement Wednesday that it had fully halted supplies to Polish gas company PGNiG and Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz after they refused to meet a demand by Moscow to pay in rubles, rather than euros or dollars.

4 hr 56 min agoKremlin says no chance of Putin declaring war on Ukraine on Victory DayFrom CNN’s Stephanie Halasz

Russian military vehicles attend rehearsal of Victory Day military parade marking the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, on April 28. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday there was no chance of Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring war on Ukraine on May 9, Russia’s Victory Day, dismissing those reports as “nonsense.”

When asked by CNN on a regular conference call what the chances were of Putin declaring war on Victory Day, Peskov said “none,” adding: “No, this is nons

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New battles break out in the Mariupol steel plant where hundreds of civilians are still trapped along with the last Ukrainian defenders in the city, mayor says

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