Smoke rises from Russian attacks on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in southern Ukraine (AFP)

Wednesday’s Coverage: Russia’s Attacks Kill 21 Civilians, Injure 27 in Donetsk


The Ukrainian military has struck an oil depot with a missile, according to officials in the Russian proxy area in the Donetsk of eastern Ukraine.

The depot in the city of Makiivka was set ablaze.


Vladimir Putin has apologised for anti-semitic comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after a phone conversation with Putin.

Bennett said he accepted the apology and thanked Putin for clarifying his position.

On Sunday, Lavrov repeated a long-running falsehood that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry when asked how Russia can pursue “de-Nazification” of Ukraine when President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is Jewish.

As to [Zelenskiy’s] argument of what kind of Nazification can we have if I’m Jewish, if I remember correctly, and I may be wrong, Hitler also had Jewish blood. It doesn’t mean anything at all.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned Lavrov’s “unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error”. Bennett said, “”Such lies are meant to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history and thus free the oppressors of the Jews from their responsibility.”


A Ukrainian commander inside the besieged and devastated Azovstal steel works in Mariupol says Russian forces never adhered to a promised ceasefire today.

Sviatoslav Palamar appealed for help for wounded solders “dying in horrible agony” and the evacuation of civilians.

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 asked 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.”

The UN’s head of humanitarian operations, Martin Griffiths, said another convoy is on its way to Mariupol to try to evacuate civilians.

UN Secretary General António Guterres said the operation is underway: “We must continue to do all we can to get people out of these hellscapes.”


In a sign of reconciliation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has invited German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to visit him in Kyiv.

Zelenskiy issued the invitation in a call today with Steinmeier in which “past irritations were cleared up” and the German President expressed his “solidarity, respect and support” for Ukraine.

Three weeks ago, the Zelenskiy Government rejected Steinmeier’s attempt to travel to Kyiv alongside the Presidents of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. But since then, Germany has backed more sanctions on Moscow, including the European Union’s cutoff of Russian oil, and indicated it will send heavy weapons and armor to Ukraine.

Last week the German Government said it will send 50 Gepard anti-aircraft tank systems to Kyiv. Die Welt reported on Thursday that Berlin is preparing to deliver seven Panzerhaubitze 2000 armored howitzers.


Vladimir Putin’s office has said there will be no Victory Day parade in the Russian proxy areas of eastern Ukraine.

Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff Sergey Kiriyenko, speaking from the Russian-occupied section of Mariupol, said, “It’s impossible to hold an Immortal Regiment march or a Victory parade in Donetsk or Luhansk on May 9, but this time will come and will come soon.

Russian proxies have held a parade on May 9 each year since 2014, when they took power in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu would not confirm if a Victory Day parade will be staged in Mariupol.


The Kremlin has complained that the US and Europe are preventing a swift victory for Russia’s invasion in Ukraine by supplying weapons and intelligence to Kyiv.

Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said:

Our military is well aware that the United States, Britain and Nato as a whole are constantly transmitting intelligence and other parameters to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Coupled with the flow of weapons that these countries are sending to Ukraine, these are all actions that do not contribute to the quick completion of the operation.


Russian shelling has killed five civilians in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours.

Governor Serhiy Haidai said attacks were concentrated on Severodonetsk, Popasna, Hirske, and Lysychansk.

Shelling of residential areas in the center of Kramatorsk has injured at least 25 people. Several multi-storey buildings, a school, and a kindergarten were damaged.


At least 221 children have been killed and 408 injured during Russia’s invasion, according to Ukraine’s ombudsman for human rights Lyudmyla Denisova.

She added, “It is not possible to establish the actual number of dead and wounded children due to the fact that the occupying forces are actively fighting in Ukrainian cities.”


Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says Russian forces have stolen 400,000 tons of grain from the south of the country.

The Ministry tweeted, “That’s over 6,000 hoppers. Russian thieves are bringing death and famine to the world.”


Prominent journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov has been put on a wanted list by the Russian Interior Ministry.

Nevzorov’s name was added to the Interior Ministry’s registry on Wednesday for “distributing false information about the Russian armed forces.”

The journalist was targeted in a criminal investigation in March after his criticism on Instagram of of Russian bombing of Mariupol, including an attack on a nursing home which killed numerous civilians. The investigation opened soon after the Russian Duma passed a law threatening up to 15 years in prison for any report on the invasion.

In April, the journalist was reportedly deemed a “foreign agent”.

He is now in an undisclosed country outside Russia.


“Senior American officials” say the US has provided intelligence helping Ukraine’s forces target and kill Russian generals.

The Ukrainian military says it has slain up to 12 generals during the Russian invasion.

The US has provided real-time battlefield intelligence to the Ukrainians, including information on anticipated Russian troop movements and assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for its offensive in eastern Ukraine.

American information on the location of the Russian military’s mobile headquarters has been 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.

They also 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.


Ukrainian journalist Oleksandr Makhov, who rejoined the military after the Russian invasion, has been killed by shelling near the frontline in northeast Ukraine.

Makhov, 36, was slain near the city of Izyum, used by Russia as the staging area for its offensive into the Donbas.

Eight other journalists and documentary makers have been killed by Russian fire during the invasion.

Makhov was renowned for his gripping accounts from war zones and had also reported from Antarctica. He fought in the Ukrainians force in 2014 as Russia tried to establish its proxy areas in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said early Thursday, “Patriotic and sincere, and always without vanity. And he was always among the bravest, among those first in line. From the first day of the full-scale war, he was on the frontline. Volunteer. ATO veteran. Warrior of the 95th assault brigade.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russian forces are trying to overrun the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol in southern Ukraine, apparently seeking to conquer the area for “Victory Day” on May 9.

Ukrainian defenders of the plant, where about 200 civilians — including 30 children — are still trapped by the siege, reported “difficult bloody battles” on Wednesday. Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov regiment, said in a brief Telegram video, “I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the pressure of the enemy….The situation is extremely difficult.”

David Arakhamia, the head of Ukraine’s ruling party in Parliament, said Russian troops had entered the steelworks, although contact had been restored with the defenders.

Russia finally allowed about 180 civilians to leave Azovstal last weekend, but then escalated shelling and bombing of the works. Russia’s Defense Ministry appeared to cover up the intense assault with a declaration of a daytime “ceasefire” from Thursday to Saturday to permit more evacuations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted, “The order was publicly given by [Vladimir Putin] to cancel the storming [of Azovstal]. There is no storming.”

While the Russians blocked any departures from Azovstal on Wednesday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said 344 civilians had been rescued from other parts of Mariupol and the surrounding city. The group is on its way to Ukrainian-controlled Zaporizhzhia, 132 miles to the northwest.

Zelenskiy said efforts continue to free those trapped in Azovstal:

There are still civilians. Women, children

To save them, we need to continue the silence. The Ukrainian side is ready to provide it. It takes time to just lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters. In the current conditions, we cannot use special equipment to clear the debris. Everything is done manually.

About 100,000 civilians remain in the city of Sea of Azov, the focus of Russian attempts to establish a coastal corridor, linking Russian proxy areas in eastern Ukraine with Russian-occupied Crimea in the south.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko has said more than 21,000 people have been killed during the Russian invasion. Satellite images have shown newly-dug mass graves near the city.

On Wednesday, an Associated Press investigation concludes that up to 600 people were killed in the Russian destruction of the Drama Theater on March 16.

A Hollow Victory Day?

Vladimir Putin, seeking a lagacy of Ukraine as part of “greater Russia”, has wanted to display conquered parts of the country for Victory Day, which marks the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II.

However, Russian forces have only been able to claim the southern corridor, occupying the cities of Kherson and Melitopol in the opening days of the invasion. They failed to enter the capital Kyiv, seeking to detain or kill leaders like President Zelenskiy, and had to withdraw from northern Ukraine at the end of March. An offensive to expand control in the east is struggling to make progress.

Victory Day rehearsals continued in Moscow’s Red Square on Wednesday, with long-range missiles on parade and Russian combat aircraft and helicopters flying overhead.

Ukrainian military intelligence said, “Mariupol will become a centre of ‘celebration’. The central streets of the city are urgently being cleaned of debris, bodies and unexploded ordnance.” The report claimed an official from Putin’s administration was already in the city for a “large-scale propaganda campaign. Russians will be shown stories of locals’ ‘joy’ at meeting the occupiers”.

But at the same time, Ukrainian forces regained territory in southern Ukraine, their first significant advance since the Russian occupation in the early days of the invasion.

The daily Ukrainian intelligence report said that the Russians “lost control over several settlements on the border of Mykolayiv and Kherson regions”.