The Azovstal steel works, destroyed by Russian attacks, in Mariupol in southern Ukraine (Reuters)

Thursday’s Coverage: Russia Tries to Conquer Mariupol for Putin’s “Victory Day”


Some civilians have been transferred from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to the village of Bezimenne in the Russian proxy area of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Coaches have arrived at a holding center, which also took in about 80 civilians last weekend. They were accompanied by representatives of the Red Cross and the UN.

Officials at the center said they expected several buses to arrive.

Russian State outlets said today that three buses with a total of 48 civilians, including children, had left Azovstal. A fourth is expected to depart before the closing of the “humanitarian corridor”.


Another Russian warship in the Black Sea has reportedly been hit by a Ukrainian cruise missile.

The Ukraine Government’s social media site Dumska said the Russian “Burevestnik” class frigate was near Zmeyny Island. A “naval source” told the Gruz200 military news site that a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile struck the vessel.

“Large numbers” of Russian warplanes are reportedly flying overhead.

Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko said the stricken warship is the Admiral Makarov, which has been operating in the western Black Sea for more than a month.

Ukrainian forces say they have destroyed eight Russian warships during the invasion. They include Russia’s Black Sea flagship, the missile cruiser Moskva; the large landing ship Orsk; and two patrol boats hit by drones.


About 3.8m people left Russia in the first quarter of 2022. Most went to Georgia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Finland.


Amnesty International has documented 22 cases of unlawful killing by Russian forces — “most of which were apparent extrajudicial executions” –– in Bucha and other areas near Kyiv.

The 44-page report concluded that Russian troops have committed a “host of apparent war crimes”. It details unlawful air strikes on the town of Borodyanka, in which at least 40 civilians were killed. Amnesty stresses that there were no known Ukrainian military targets at or around any of the buildings which were struck.

The document is based on interviews with 45 people who witnessed or had first-hand knowledge of unlawful killings of their relatives and neighbours by Russian soldiers, and with 39 others who witnessed or had first-hand knowledge of airstrikes that targeted eight residential buildings. Amnesty also reviewed evidence, including documents left behind by Russian troops.

Ukrainian authorities are investigating more than 9,000 potential war crimes by Russian troops. The International Criminal Court has also launched an enquiry.


After regaining territory near Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, the Ukrainian military says it is shifting to the offensive in the northeast of the country.

Ukraine commander-in-chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said he told Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Thursday: “There are fierce battles going on, as well as the transition from defensive operations to offensive actions in the Kharkiv and Izyum areas.

Ukrainian success would be particularly notable near Izyum, the staging area for Russia’s offensive seeking territory in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.


Two sources have said the European Union will allow exemptions for Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic over the forthcoming phaseout of imports of Russian oil.

The EU is expected to include the phaseout, to be completed by the end of 2022, in its sixth set of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The sources said Hungary and Slovakia will be allowed to take Russian supplies until the end of 2024. The Czech Republic has until June 2024, if it does not get oil via a pipeline from southern Europe before then.

See also EA on TRT World: Can the EU Cut Off Imports of Russia’s Oil and Gas?

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a conference on Friday morning, “I am confident that we will get this [sanctions] package on track – if it takes a day longer, it takes a day longer – but we are moving in the right direction.”


The UN has documented 180 cases of “arbitrary detentions and possible enforced disappearances” by Russian forces during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including five cases where the bodies of victims have been found.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said the Russian have targeted local officials, journalists, civil society activists, retired members of the armed forces, and others in areas such as Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

Bachelet also cited Russian forces raping women in areas under their control, and other serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law “increasing every day”.

She said 6,731 civilian deaths and injuries have been recorded and “the real figures are considerably higher”.


Fijian authorities, acting on the request of the US Department of Justice, have seized a $300 million yacht belonging to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.

Fijian officials, acting with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, acted on Washington’s seizure warrant to take the 348-foot Amadea.


Poland and Lithuania have inaugurated a new gas pipeline, a step towards reduced dependence on Russian supplies.

The 508-km (316-mile) pipeline will eventually be able to transport around two billion cubic meters of gas per year. Latvia, Estonia and also Finland will have access.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told a ceremony outside the capital Vilnius, “Today, we are inaugurating our energy independence.”

Polish Prime Minister Andrzej Duda said, “This interconnector is a response to blackmail [from Russia].”

In late April, Russia’s Gazprom said it is halting gas to Poland and Bulgaria because they will not accede to Vladimir Putin’s ultimatum to pay in rubles.

The Poles have said they can continue supplies and are ready to cut off all Russian provision. The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia announced that they are halting imports of Russian gas and will use their reserves.


UK military intelligence assessed that Russia’s determination to overrun the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is hampering the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The renewed effort by Russia to secure Azovstal and complete the capture of Mariupol is likely linked to the upcoming 9 May Victory Day commemorations and Putin’s desire to have a symbolic success in Ukraine.

This effort has come at personnel, equipment, and munitions cost to Russia. Whilst Ukrainian resistance continues in Azovstal, Russian losses will continue to build and frustrate their operational plans in southern Donbas.


US agencies provided Ukraine with intelligence that helped the Ukrainian military sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, according to “people familiar with the matter”.

One US official emphasized that the US had “no prior awareness” of Ukraine’s decision to strike the warship on April 14, saying that the American intelligence was general assistance to Kyiv for defense against maritime threats.

However, the Washington Post and New York Times’ sources said that without the US intelligence, the Ukrainian military would have struggled to target the Moskva with two Neptune anti-ship missiles.

The flagship, the first Russian missile cruiser sunk since 1941, rolled on its side and submerged hours after the attack. Russian officials still have not disclosed how many crew died.

Citing “senior American officials”, the New York Times reported on Thursday that the US provided intelligence helping Ukraine’s forces target and kill Russian generals.

The intelligence included information on anticipated Russian troop movements and assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for its offensive in eastern Ukraine. Details on the location of the Russian military’s mobile headquarters were combined with Ukrainian intelligence, including intercepted communications, to conduct artillery strikes and drone attacks.

The US officials declined to say how many generals were killed as a result of American assistance. Ukrainian officials have said up to 12 Russian generals have been slain.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby declared on Thursday that while the US provided intelligence “to help Ukrainians defend their country”, the Ukrainians made their own decisions on whether to target a Russian comamnder.

We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military.

Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intelligence that they themselves are gathering on the battlefield.

Then they make their own decisions, and they take their own actions.

The anonymous officials who spoke to the New York Times said Washington was not involved in last weekend’s Ukrainian strike which targeted Russia’s top commander, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, in eastern Ukraine.

Gerasimov escaped, but the drone attack on a Russian headquarters killed 200 troops, including a general, according to the Ukrainian military.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Lying once again, Vladimir Putin and his military continue their assault on the besieged and devastated Azovstal steel works in Mariupol in southern Ukraine.

Russian officials had said they would cease fire during the day from Thursday to Saturday, but shelling continued yesterday, even as about 200 civilians — including 30 children — are trapped in the plant.

A Ukrainian commander inside Azovstal, Sviatoslav Palamar, said in a brief video:

Once again, the Russians violated the promise of a ceasefire and did not allow the evacuation of civilians who continue to hide from shelling in the basement of the plant.

He spoke of wounded solders “dying in horrible agony” and appealed to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, “Give us the opportunity to pick up the bodies of soldiers so that Ukrainians can say goodbye to their heroes. Respond appropriately to a critical situation in which the enemy does not adhere to any ethical norms.”

Zelenskiy said in his late-night address to the nation:

Russian shelling and assault of Azovstal do not stop. But civilians still need to be taken out — women, children. Many children who are still there. Just imagine this hell! And there are children! More than two months of constant shelling, bombing, constant death nearby….

We are doing everything to find a solution to save our military. Heroes who defend Mariupol against the occupiers prevailing in the number of troops….They have many wounded. But they do not give up. They are holding positions.

We do not give up either.

The Russian attacks cast doubt on the UN’s announcement of another attempt to evacuate civilians from the plant.

The UN’s head of humanitarian operations, Martin Griffiths, said, “A convoy is proceeding to get to Azovstal by tomorrow morning hopefully to receive those civilians remaining in that bleak hell…and take them back to safety.” UN Secretary General António Guterres added, “We must continue to do all we can to get people out of these hellscapes.”

After 20 failed attempts, about 180 civilians were finally allowed by Russian forces to leave Azovstal last weekend. About 100 went to Ukraine-controlled Zaporizhzhia, 132 miles to the northwest, while about 80 were transported to a village in the Russian proxy area of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

Russia then blocked further evacuations as it escalated the shelling and bombing of Azovstal, in an apparent attempt to overrun the plant by “Victory Day” on May 9.

Zelenskiy said on Wednesday night that another 344 civilians were able to get out of other areas of Mariupol. About 100,000 civilians remain in the city.