War in Ukraine: Latest developments

AFP , Saturday 7 May 2022

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

KYIV, Ukraine
A territorial defence man poses for a photo next to cars destroyed during the Russian occupation in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on Saturday, May 7, 2022. AP


New US weapons

US President Joe Biden announces a new $150 million weapons package to Ukraine, including artillery munitions and radar, while urging Congress to pass a $33 billion aid package including $20 billion in military aid.

The new batch brings the total value of US weaponry sent by the Biden administration to Ukraine to $3.8 billion since Russia invaded on February 24, says Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

US First Lady Jill Biden is currently in Romania on a three-day visit to Eastern Europe, meeting with refugees and aid workers.

Civilian evacuations from Azovstal plant

Fifty more civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the destroyed city of Mariupol, says Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, even as the factory continues to be hit by ground and air attacks.

The operation, which Vereshchuk says will continue Saturday, was to coincide with a daytime ceasefire announced by Russia starting Thursday, but Ukraine's army accused Moscow of continuing its assault on the plant.

Before the UN-led evacuation, about 200 civilians, including children, were estimated to still be trapped in the Soviet-era tunnels and bunkers beneath the factory, along with a group of Ukrainian soldiers making a last stand.

Red Square troops, tanks for Victory Day rehearsal

Russia holds its final rehearsal for an annual parade marking the Soviet victory in World War II, where its military might will be showcased amid Moscow's ongoing campaign in Ukraine.

Rehearsal for the May 9 event saw jet fighters flying over Moscow's Red Square forming the symbol "Z" in support of Russia's military action in Ukraine, while tanks and troops took part in the parade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to deliver a speech during the parade, which some Western officials believe could be a declaration of all-out war on Ukraine, speculation the Kremlin has dismissed as "nonsense."

Ukraine says sinks Russian landing craft

Ukraine's defence ministry says it has destroyed a Russian warship near the Black Sea's Snake Island, posting overhead footage on social media of what appears to be an explosion over a light craft.

Russia has not yet confirmed the strike.

Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after its soldiers colourfully rebuffed a demand by the Russian warship Moskva to surrender. The Moskva later sank from what Ukraine and the US said was a missile attack.

'Staggering' Russian violations

The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic, calls Russian violations of human rights in Ukraine "staggering" after a four-day visit to the country.

The visit to areas outside Kyiv illustrated "mounting evidence of widespread arbitrary killings, torture, and enforced disappearances," the council says in a statement.

The organisation, which protects human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe, expelled Russia as a member in March.

Italy impounds Putin-linked yacht

Italian authorities impound a $700 million, 140-metre mega yacht as speculation swirls it could belong to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Scheherazade", which has been berthed for several months at a shipyard on Italy's western coast, has been the subject of an ownership probe by the financial police.

Italy's investigation has helped establish "significant economic and business links" between the official owner and "eminent people in the Russian government", as well as Russians on the West's sanctions list, the economy ministry says.

Eastern city surrounded

Russian forces have almost encircled Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still held by Ukraine where about 15,000 people remain, a local official says.

Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the Severodonetsk military administration, says on Ukrainian television that Kyiv's army is so far "repelling these attacks" but the Russians were pressing on.

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