All women and children evacuated from Azovstal; Ukraine claims it has destroyed another Russian ship – as it happened


From 7 May 2022 17.39 All women, children and elderly evacuated from besieged steel plant in Mariupol All women, children and elderly people have been evacuated from Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has said. Iryna Vereshchuk said the current state of the humanitarian operation in Azovstal has been completed. “This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation is over,” she wrote on Telegram on Saturday. It comes after Ukraine announced an evacuation plan for the plant and other parts of the city on Friday.

Earlier, Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region said that 50 civilians had been evacuated. Buses carrying evacuees from Mariupol arrive in buses in Bezimenne in the Donetsk region on Saturday. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Updated at 17.40 BST

7 May 2022 23.41 The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, said Russia’s setbacks in Ukraine may be impacting China’s calculus about trying to gain control over Taiwan. Speaking today at a Washington event hosted by the Financial Times, Burns said China was alarmed by “the fact that what Putin has done is driving Europeans and Americans closer together” and was looking “carefully at what lessons they should draw” for Taiwan. Burns added: It strikes us . . . that Xi Jinping is a little bit unsettled by the reputational damage that can come to China by the association with the brutishness of Russia’s aggression against Ukrainians [and] unsettled certainly by the economic uncertainty that’s been produced by the war. But while the international outcry over the invasion of Ukraine may be impacting China’s thinking about Taiwan, Burns said he did not believe the war had “eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control over Taiwan”.

7 May 2022 23.20 Emma Graham-Harrison Emma Graham-Harrison and Vera Mironova report from Kyiv on the paramilitary unit assisting the city’s strained police force: The call came around midnight. There was a suspicious man poking around a rundown complex of garages and workshops, police had heard a gunshot and so they wanted backup. The men of the Maidan group rolled out of the bodyshop that served as their headquarters, into a couple of vans with personalised Maidan numberplates and their own ambulance, and set off into the eerie quiet of curfew-hours Kyiv. Far from the frontlines, the war is straining society. There has been extraordinary solidarity across Ukraine, with ordinary people risking, and often giving, their lives to help others simply make it through the day, taking food and fuel to vulnerable and elderly people, or driving evacuation vehicles to pick up those stranded at the frontline. But a minority have taken advantage of the chaos of fighting, the flight of many neighbours into exile, and authorities distracted by an existential threat. In over two months since the first missiles hit Kyiv, Maidan patrols have picked up opportunists on looting raids, desperate residents driven to steal as the economy collapsed, and Russian spies trying to scope potential targets, gather information or just prepare for orders to come. The Kyiv unit patrolling the streets as law and order cracks under war Read more

7 May 2022 22.59 UK to provide another 1.3bn pounds of aid to Ukraine Britain has pledged to provide another £1.3bn ($1.6bn) in military support and aid to Ukraine, Reuters reports. The news comes one day before G7 leaders are scheduled to participate in a video call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as Russia prepares to hold its 9 May Victory Day celebrations. The new funds will almost double Britain’s previous spending commitments to Ukraine, as the country tries to push back against the Russian military’s attacks. Boris Johnson’s government has already sent anti-tank missiles, air defence systems and other weapons to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February. Johnson’s office said he also plans to meet with executives from leading defence companies later this month to discuss increasing production in response to the war in Ukraine. Johnson, who visited Ukraine last week and became the first western leader to address its parliament since the start of the invasion, said in a statement: Putin’s brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine – it is also threatening peace and security across Europe.

Updated at 23.52 BST

7 May 2022 22.38 Berlin authorities said investigators are studying a device found and destroyed at a residential building housing Russian news agency staff in the city, Reuters reports. A Berlin police spokesman said the device was found on Friday, and an investigation is now underway to determine how dangerous the device was and who it may have been targeting. Russia’s foreign ministry has called on European countries to take steps to protect Russian journalists and their families abroad during the war in Ukraine. In a statement released on Saturday, the ministry said of the incident in Berlin: We see this as a direct consequence of the harassment of Russia media and their employees unleashed in the West. The politicised decision to disconnect Russian media from the airwaves in the European Union was the precursor to their physical intimidation, right up to their elimination. The EU has already banned the state-controlled Russian outlets RT and Sputnik, accusing them of spreading misinformation and Kremlin propaganda about the war.

Updated at 22.55 BST

7 May 2022 22.15 Daniel Boffey “Holding up”, wrote Denys Prokopenko, commander of Ukraine’s Azov regiment, in his latest WhatsApp message to his wife Kateryna from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Speaking via Zoom from Krakow, in eastern Poland, alongside three fellow wives and partners of soldiers living under the remorseless Russian shelling and infiltrating raids, Kateryna, 27, says she is doing everything she can think of to ensure the message at 10pm on Friday evening is not one of her husband’s last. It is now two weeks since the last Ukrainian defenders of the flattened city of Mariupol, in south-east Ukraine, withdrew to the sprawling complex of hot and fetid tunnels, along with thousands of terrified civilians, including children. Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Saturday that all women, children and older adults had been evacuated. For the 2,000 soldiers, 700 of whom are said to be injured, hope, however, is quickly dwindling, as has become cruelly clear from the irregular messages coming out of the works. “The last message was yesterday,” Kateryna says of the text from her 30-year-old husband. I said ‘Hold up, we will do everything in our power to save you.’” Anguish for partners of Mariupol’s defenders as Russian assault goes on Read more

Updated at 22.56 BST

7 May 2022 21.55 Jill Biden expressed gratitude to the first lady of Romania, Carmen Johannis, for hosting her today at a public school that Ukrainian refugee children have started attending after fleeing their country. “To my fellow teacher and First Lady, thank you for an afternoon in Romania full of compassion and hope,” Biden said on Twitter. “Not only do we share a love for our students, but we stand united in our support for the Ukrainian people.” To my fellow teacher and First Lady, thank you for an afternoon in Romania full of compassion and hope.

Not only do we share a love for our students, but we stand united in our support for the Ukrainian people. — Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) May 7, 2022 The American first lady is currently on a four-day trip to Romania and Slovakia, which is meant to show US support for Ukrainian refugees. On Sunday, which is Mother’s Day in the US, Biden will travel to the Slovakia-Ukraine border to meet with Ukrainian mothers and children who were forced to leave their country after the Russian invasion.

7 May 2022 21.35 Julian Borger The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, was asked about the fears of Vladimir Putin using a nuclear weapon in frustration, as the Russian military has suffered setbacks in Ukraine. Burns said today at a Washington event organised by the Financial Times: We stay very sharply focused as an intelligence service, as I know our counterparts and allied countries do on those possibilities, at a moment when the stakes are very high for Putin’s Russia. And those risks in the second phase of the conflict are serious and shouldn’t be underestimated. But we don’t see practical evidence of preparations for that at this stage.

7 May 2022 21.15 Celebrity chef José Andrés said his organization, World Central Kitchen, has opened a new warehouse in Dnipro to help feed families affected by the war in Ukraine. Andrés’ team is compiling 15 kilo food bundles for families to cook with and distributing the packages across the region, particularly to areas near the frontlines where it is more difficult to access food. Since the start of the Russian invasion in February, Dnipro has become “a logistical hub for humanitarian aid and a reception point for people fleeing the war in the Donbas and other parts of the country”, NPR wrote in March. Our new @WCKitchen warehouse is up and running in Dnipro in Ukraine! The team is creating 30 pound food bundles for families to cook with…They are distributed across the region—especially to villages near the front lines that don’t have reliable access to food! #ChefsForUkraine — José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) May 7, 2022

Updated at 21.45 BST

7 May 2022 20.55 Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia under Barack Obama, has called on diplomats in Moscow to avoid the country’s 9 May Victory Day celebrations. McFaul said any ambassador who opposes “annexation, imperialism, and Putin’s horrific, unjustified invasion of Ukraine” should not attend the parade on Red Square planned for Monday. I assume all ambassadors from countries that are against annexation, imperialism, and Putin’s horrific, unjustified invasion of Ukraine will not attend the May 9th parade on Red Square. — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) May 7, 2022 McFaul’s message comes as Russia tries to take the last stronghold in Mariupol, the besieged steel plant, in time for the 9 May celebrations. The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, Andrew Roth, wrote about how Putin faces an array of dangerous options in Ukraine as Victory Day approaches: Putin’s choices filled with peril on eve of Victory Day parade Read more

Updated at 21.06 BST

7 May 2022 20.36 Now that all women and children have been evacuated from Mariupol’s besieged steel plant, attention has turned to the Ukrainian fighters still trying to defend the site. Hundreds of soldiers remain at the plant, and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on Friday that his government was working on a diplomatic effort to save those still there. The fighters have insisted they will not surrender, but officials fear they will come under increased attack in the coming days as Russia tries to take the last remaining Mariupol stronghold in time for the country’s 9 May Victory Day celebrations. The wives of at least two Ukrainian fighters still at the plant have been in Rome, begging for the international community to rescue the trapped soldiers. One of the wives, Kateryna Prokopenko, told the Associated Press on Thursday: Assault continues. Many dead and new injured … They are waiting for the evacuation operation from Europe, or they will all die.

Updated at 21.57 BST

7 May 2022 20.16 Nick Cohen Observer columnist Nick Cohen argues that Rupert Murdoch should face sanctions over Fox News’ promotion of Russian propaganda: If the west could find the courage, it would order an immediate freeze of Rupert Murdoch’s assets. His Fox News presenters and Russia’s propagandists are so intermeshed that separating the two is as impossible as unbaking a cake. On Russian state news, as on Fox, bawling ideologues scream threats then whine about their victimhood as they incite anger and self-pity in equal measures. Its arguments range from the appropriation of anti-fascism by Greater Russian imperialists – the 40 countries supporting Ukraine were “today’s collective Hitler”, viewers were told last week – to the apocalyptic delirium of the boss of RT (Russia Today) Margarita Simonyan. Nuclear war is my “horror”, she shuddered, “but we will go to heaven, while they will simply croak”. Russia would never give genuine western journalists airtime. But it can always find a slot for its favourite quisling: Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. He pushes out Russian propaganda lines or perhaps creates his own lies for Russia to use. Ukraine, not Russia, is the real tyranny. Nato provoked poor Vladimir Putin. The west is plotting to use biological weapons. Murdoch is boosting Russian morale and, conversely, undermining Ukrainian resolve by supplying a dictatorship with foreign validation. Do not underestimate its importance.

Fox News deals in Kremlin propaganda. So why not freeze Rupert Murdoch’s assets? | Nick Cohen Read more

7 May 2022 19.56 WHO gathers evidence for Russia’s possible war crimes During the World Health Organization press conference in Kyiv today, officials indicated they are gathering evidence for potential war crimes committed by Russia, Reuters reports. The WHO emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said the agency has already documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in Ukraine, which could violate international law. Ryan said: Intentional attacks on healthcare facilities are a breach of international humanitarian law and as such – based on investigation and attribution of the attack – represent war crimes in any situation. … We continue to document and bear witness to these attacks … and we trust that the U.N. system and the International Criminal Court and others will take the necessary investigations in order to assess the criminal intent behind these attacks. Russia has denied past accusations of committing war crimes or targeting civilians in Ukraine, but those denials have been met with increasing scepticism from western officials. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Thursday that Russian troops have already destroyed or damaged nearly 400 healthcare institutions in the country.

Updated at 20.03 BST

7 May 2022 19.33 The speaker of the US House, Nancy Pelosi, was asked about the request from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for the Biden administration to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terror. Appearing on the network MSNBC yesterday, Pelosi said: I’ve been advocating that for a while. If Russia is not listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, tear up the list. … You have a president of a country who has turned his own soldiers into such acts of violence. Pelosi, a Democrat, also discussed her recent trip to Ukraine, where she met Zelenskiy: We brought our admiration and commendation to the people of Ukraine for their courage and fighting for democracy because that’s what this fight is about.

Updated at 20.23 BST

7 May 2022 19.16 Putin’s choices filled with peril on eve of Victory Day parade Andrew Roth On the brink of its May 9 Victory Day celebrations, Russia looks very far from triumph in its war in Ukraine. And all of its options going forward are fraught with danger. After a disastrous assault on Kyiv, Russia is engaged in an attempt to take territory in Ukraine’s east, as its military nears exhaustion and sanctions continue to escalate. “With the current force that they have, the push that they’re attempting now is all that they have left,” said Jeffrey Edmonds, former director for Russia on the US national security council and senior analyst at the CNA thinktank. “Militaries just don’t recover that quickly from such a devastating loss. And given how effective the Ukrainians have been with our support, I just don’t think they’re going to be able to achieve their objectives within the coming weeks. And the coming weeks are going to be the telltale of where this is going.” Facing setbacks, officials have suggested that Vladimir Putin may use the May 9 holiday to repackage the war in Ukraine. Dramatic options include escalation through a formal declaration of war or general mobilisation – or de-escalating by proclaiming victory. Putin’s choices filled with peril on eve of Victory Day parade Read more

Updated at 19.16 BST

7 May 2022 18.56 The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sent a message of solidarity with the Ukrainian people as they confront Russia’s attacks. Speaking from the government media center in Kyiv today, Tedros said: My message to all the people of Ukraine is this: WHO stands by you.

The WHO emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said that the organisation has documented 200 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine and would share its findings with those investigating potential crimes committed in the war.

Updated at 18.58 BST

7 May 2022 18.38 The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said he spoke to his counterpart in Angola about how the war against Russia is affecting global food security. Kuleba said on Twitter that he and Tete Antonio discussed “steps to develop trade” and “the need to fully unblock Ukraine’s food exports”. Spoke with Angola’s Foreign Minister Tete Antonio @amb_tete on our further cooperation within international organizations and steps to develop trade. We focused on ways to mitigate the impact of war on global food security and the need to fully unblock Ukraine’s food exports. — Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 7, 2022 The Global Network Against Food Crises, an agency set up by the United Nations and the EU, issued a report on Tuesday warning that the war in Ukraine could exacerbate food insecurity around the world. Countries that already face high levels of food insecurity – such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen – could be put in even more danger if the war drags on, considering many countries import wheat from Russia and Ukraine. The report said: Countries already coping with high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable to (the war) due to their high dependency on imports of food and (their) vulnerability to global food price shocks.

Updated at 18.59 BST