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Russia-Ukraine updates: ‘Risk of nuclear war must be minimised’ | News

Table of Contents

  • A Russian official tells state media that Moscow believes the risks of nuclear war should be kept to a minimum amid the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says conditions in Kharkiv and Donbas are difficult and Ukraine is in “the fight for our lives”.
  • An operation to evacuate civilians trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant has stalled, as the situation inside the plant remains “dire”.
  • Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has told Chinese state media that in peace talks with Ukraine, Russia has called for sanctions to be lifted.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 66

This live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. You can follow our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine on our new live blog.

These were the updates on Saturday, April 30:

Twenty civilians leave Mariupol’s Azovstal site: Ukraine regiment

A group of 20 civilians is leaving the Azovstal steelworks, where the last Ukrainian troops are holed up in the Black Sea port of Mariupol, the soldiers there have said.

“Twenty civilians, women and children … have been transferred to a suitable place and we hope that they will be evacuated to Zaporizhzhia, on territory controlled by Ukraine,” said Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov Regiment.

They were still going through the rubble searching for civilians to rescue after a night of Russian bombardment there, he added, in a video posted on Telegram.

Russia’s Rosneft seeks prepayment in roubles for oil products

Russia’s Rosneft has offered oil products from its refineries for loading May-June in a tender requiring prepayment in roubles, according to three sources talking to Reuters news agency.

Last week Rosneft has offered 6.5 million tonnes of crude oil via tenders for loading in May-June, seeking full prepayment in roubles for the first time.

Bids were invited for about 2 million tonnes of fuel oil and vacuum gas oil (VGO), 1.4 million tonnes of naphtha and 1 million tonnes of marine diesel oil (MDO), traders added.

Hollywood actress Jolie visits Lviv

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has visited the Ukrainian city of Lviv, popping into a bakery and going to the railway station to meet some of the people displaced by the war with Russia.

Jolie, 46, is a special envoy for the United Nations refugee agency, which says more than 12.7 million people have fled their homes in the past two months, which represents about 30 percent of Ukraine’s pre-war population.

During the visit to the station, Jolie met volunteers working with the displaced, who told her that each of the psychiatrists on duty spoke to about 15 people a day. Many of those in the station are children aged from two to 10, according to volunteers.

Angelina Jolie poses with Ukrainians in Lviv
Jolie poses for a picture with children in Lviv [Press Service of the Lviv Regional State Administration/Handout via Reuters]

UK is more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine: PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Zelenskyy that he was more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine, according to a spokesperson for Johnson’s office.

“He confirmed that the UK will continue to provide additional military aid to give the Ukrainians the equipment they needed to defend themselves,” the spokesperson said, adding that Johnson also offered Britain’s continued economic and humanitarian support.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has repeated his support for Ukraine [File: Matt Dunham/AP Photo]

Russia says it hit 17 Ukrainian facilities, killed more than 200 soldiers

Russia’s armed forces have said they hit 17 Ukrainian military facilities with high-precision missiles and also destroyed a command post and a warehouse used to store rockets and artillery.

In an online post, the defence ministry also said air force attacks during the day killed more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers and destroyed 23 armoured vehicles. The post made no mention of an attack on Odesa airport which the local governor said had been hit by a Russian missile, putting the runway out of action.

Russian air forces continue to raid Mariupol: Ukraine

Ukraine’s military has said Russian planes continued to launch attacks on the besieged city of Mariupol, focusing on the Azovstal steelworks where troops and civilians are sheltering.

In a Facebook post, the general staff of the armed forces also said the Ukrainian military had regained control over four settlements in the Kharkivska region.

Fourteen Ukrainians freed in prisoner exchange

Ukraine has said 14 Ukrainians including a pregnant soldier were freed in the latest prisoner exchange with Russian forces, without revealing the number of Russians returned to Moscow.

“Today, we carried out a new exchange of prisoners. Fourteen of ours are coming home, seven military and seven civilians. One of the military women is five months pregnant,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.

In an interview with the BBC on Friday, Vereshchuk accused Russian forces of deporting large numbers of civilians into Russia and using them as “hostages”.

Russian attack on Odesa airport knocks out runway: Ukraine

A Russian missile attack on Odesa airport has damaged the runway and it can no longer be used, according to the Ukrainian military.

Kyiv police find three bound men they say were executed by Russian occupiers

Ukrainian police have said they had found the bodies of three civilian men in the Bucha district north of Kyiv, bound and in some cases gagged, with several gunshot wounds that police said indicated they had been tortured.

Kyiv says more than 1,000 bodies have been discovered in or around Bucha, where it alleges systematic abuse by Russian forces who occupied the area for several weeks. Moscow rejects the allegation.

In a video posted on YouTube, Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebytov said bullet wounds in the men’s extremities showed they had been tortured, adding: “Finally, each of the men was shot in the ear.” The video also contained images purporting to show the grave and the bloodied bodies, with faces blurred out.

Russia says checkpoint in Kursk region shelled from Ukraine

The governor of Russia’s western Kursk region has said several shells were fired at a checkpoint near its border from the direction of Ukraine.

Speaking in a video posted on his Telegram channel, governor Roman Starovoit said that there were no casualties or damage.

The report cannot be independently verified. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Dutch dockworkers refuse ship with Russian diesel cargo

Dutch dockworkers have refused to unload a tanker with a consignment of Russian diesel in Amsterdam, a day after a similar action kept the ship from entering Europe’s largest port.

The Sunny Liger, a 42,000-tonne tanker was currently lying at anchor off Amsterdam, while port companies were mulling her entry into the Dutch capital, a day after dockworkers in Rotterdam also refused to handle her cargo.

“Late last night we requested all parties in the port of Amsterdam not to let the ship dock and not to [handle] it,” the FNV trade union’s harbour worker branch chairwoman Asmae Hajjari said. “The ship will not enter the Amsterdam port,” she added in a tweet.

Russia FM asks US, NATO to stop supplying arms to Ukraine

Some more details from Sergey Lavrov’s interview with China’s official Xinhua news agency.

In the interview, Russia’s foreign minister has urged the United States and NATO to stop supplying Kyiv with arms if they are “really interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis”, according to the agency.

“If the US and NATO are really interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis, then first of all, they should wake up and stop supplying the Kyiv regime with arms and ammunition,” Lavrov said.

Read more here.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Russia’s Lavrov talked to Xinhua news agency [File: Shamil Zhumatov/Pool via Reuters]

Russia says risks of nuclear war must be kept to minimum: TASS

Russia believes the risks of nuclear war should be kept to a minimum and that any armed conflict between nuclear powers should be prevented, according to the TASS news agency quoting a foreign ministry official.

Vladimir Yermakov, the foreign ministry’s head of nuclear non-proliferation, said all nuclear powers must stick to the logic laid out in official documents aimed at preventing nuclear war.

Foreign Minister Lavrov said on Monday the West should not underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear conflict over Ukraine, although the US subsequently said it did not believe there was a threat of Russia using nuclear weapons despite an escalation in Moscow’s rhetoric.

Germany planning law to speed up LNG terminals: report

The German government is said to be planning a law to speed up the construction of import terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG), as Berlin seeks to find alternative sources of energy to lessen its dependence on Russian imports.

The draft law to accelerate LNG projects in northern Germany was created by the economics, environment and justice ministries and has been submitted for departmental approval, the dpa news agency learned from sources within the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

Three more bodies with hands tied found near Bucha: Police

The bodies of three men with their hands tied were found in a pit near Bucha, Ukraine police have said.

“On April 29, a pit with the bodies of three men was found in the Bucha district … The victims’ hands were tied, cloths were covering their eyes and some were gagged. There are traces of torture on the corpses, as well as gunshot wounds to various parts of the body,” a police statement said.

France to ‘intensify’ military, humanitarian aid to Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron says France would “intensify” its supply of military and humanitarian support following a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian leader thanked France for “large-scale military shipments that contribute to the Ukrainian resistance”, Macron said, adding “that this support will continue to intensify, as will the humanitarian assistance provided by France.”

Luhansk’s Popasna district shelled

Russian forces hit the village of Komyshuvas in Luhansk region’s Popasna district, regional governor Sergey Gaidai has said on social media.

One school, the local council building and a residential building were shelled, Gaidai said.

While there were no reported casualties so far, he added that two civilians were still in the building that was attacked.

Where are people fleeing to?

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine war Refugees DAY 66 April 30 6GMT

Fighting for Kramatorsk, Sloviansk continues: Al Jazeera’s correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting on a highway linking the towns of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, gives an update on the military situation in the surrounding area.

“There seems to be a concerted effort, as there has been for the last couple of weeks, by Russian forces to surround these two large urban areas,” he said, adding that the two cities are still under full control of Ukraine.

Fighting is still continuing, Stratford reported, also in the towns of Popasna, Lysychansk and Hirske. Ukraine said that its military blew up a bridge overnight in Lyman, “which would have been very important for Russia to move in heavy military equipment and troops closer to Sloviansk”.

Rescuers evacuate a person from a residential building damaged by a military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine
Rescuers evacuate a person from a residential building damaged by a military attack in Lysychansk, Luhansk region [Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters]

Stratford noted there are worrying reports on the continuing evacuation efforts from the area as they are not coordinated with Russian forces: “These are very brave volunteers sometimes using their own private vehicles, such as school buses, who go into some of these towns where there is such heavy fighting and try to pull out the remaining civilians.”

Two drivers were shot at overnight in Popasna, Stratford added citing a local military official.

Russia expects trade with China to reach $200bn by 2024

Russia’s foreign ministry said it expected commodity flows with China to grow and trade with Beijing to reach $200bn by 2024, the Interfax news agency reported, as Moscow looks east in the face of growing Western isolation.

The ministry said Chinese companies must be wary of the risk secondary sanctions pose, but said Beijing was ready to expand its cooperation with Moscow, Interfax reported.

Russia hit Kharkivska region overnight: local authority

Kharkivska’s regional governor, Oleg Synegubov, has given on social media an update on the overnight shelling in the region:

  • Russian artillery continued, hitting the eastern residential area of Saltivka.
  • One person was injured.
  • Ukrainian forces pushed back a Russian attempt to advance near the villages Sulyhivka and Dovhenke.
People attend the funeral of Ukrainian serviceman Andriy Butrik, 47, who was killed by a Russian shelling in Kurulka village in Kharkiv Region, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine
People attend the funeral of a Ukrainian serviceman who was killed by Russian shelling in Kurulka village in Kharkivska region [Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters]

Russia says strategic stability dialogue with US formally ‘frozen’

Dialogue between Moscow and Washington on strategic stability is formally “frozen”, the TASS news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry official as saying.

Vladimir Yermakov, head of nuclear non-proliferation and controls at the foreign ministry, told TASS those contacts could be resumed once what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine was complete.

Shelling continues in Luhansk region: SES

Russian shelling hit overnight the towns of Orikhovo, Rubizhne and Novodruzhesk in the eastern Luhansk region, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service (SES) has said.

“Numerous fires of residential buildings occurred in Rubizhne and Novodruzhsk,” it said on social media, adding that there were “possible victims”.

SES also said that 15 houses in Gorsky and Orikhiv were destroyed.

Nearly 390 Ukrainian targets hit overnight: Russian ministry

Russia’s ministry of defence said it has hit overnight 389 Ukrainian targets, including 35 control points and 169 areas where Ukrainian soldiers and military equipment were concentrated, Interfax news agency reported.

It added that 15 arms and ammunition depots and four military facilities were destroyed.

Poland’s PGNiG says gas flowing after Russia cut off

Poland’s biggest gas company PGNiG said that it had started delivering gas to 10 different towns and regions across Poland that had had their gas cut off earlier in the week.

The move comes a day after PGNiG said its two subsidiaries – Polska Spolka Gazownictwa and PGNiG Obrot Detaliczny – would provide gas to customers in areas affected by a halt in deliveries from Russian company Novatek Green Energy.

Several towns across Poland had their gas supplies cut by the Russian-owned supplier hit by sanctions.

Shelling in Russia’s Bryansk hits parts of oil terminal: regional governor

Two attacks hit the Russian village of Zhecha in Starodubsky district, Bryansk regional governor Alexander Bogomaz has said on his telegram channel.

The shelling struck parts of an oil terminal and the surrounding area, he said, adding that there were no victims.

The incident took place at 6:50am local time (03:50 GMT), Bogomaz said, as Russian air defence prevented a Ukrainian aircraft from entering the Bryansk region.

Ukraine says Russia stole ‘several hundred thousand tonnes’ of grain

Russian forces have stolen “several hundred thousand tonnes” of grain in the areas of Ukraine they occupy, Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister has said.

Speaking to Ukrainian national TV, Taras Vysotskiy expressed concern that most of what he said was 1.5 million tonnes of grain stored in occupied territory could also be stolen by Russian forces.


Russia forced to merge, redeploy depleted units: UK

The United Kingdom says Russia has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from failed advances in northeast Ukraine.

“Shortcomings in Russian tactical coordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements,” the British military said in a post on Twitter.

“Russia hopes to rectify issues that have previously constrained its invasion by geographically concentrating combat power, shortening supply lines and simplifying command and control,” the military said

Kharkiv hit by sustained Russian shelling

Kharkiv’s regional military administration says the city has been hit by multiple Russian attacks.

One person was killed and five were injured “as a result of enemy artillery and mortar strikes”, Kharkiv’s regional military administration said on its Telegram account on Saturday.

The city is the second biggest in Ukraine.

A woman sits in a car with her ginger cat on her lap next to a window shattered by shrapnel as she arrives in Kharkiv after being evacuated
A family fleeing the village of Ruska Lozova in their shrapnel-ridden car arrive at a screening point in Kharkiv, [Felipe Dana/AP Photo]

Russia wants sanctions lifted as part of peace talks

A little more detail from Lavrov’s interview with Xinhua.

He told the Chinese state media agency that a Russian demand for the removal of sanctions was part of its peace negotiations with Ukraine. He described the talks, which are taking place on video link, as “difficult”.

Zelenskyy, meanwhile, has told Polish journalists that the chance of the talks ending was “high” because of Russia’s “playbook on murdering people,” the Interfax news agency said.

Ukraine cracks down on anyone suspected of ‘collaboration’

Ukrainian authorities are cracking down on anyone suspected of aiding Russia and its forces.

Offenders face up to 15 years in prison for acts of collaborating with the invaders or showing public support for them under new laws adopted by Ukraine’s parliament after the Russian invasion.

A “registry of collaborators” is being compiled and will be released to the public, Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s Security Council, was quoted as saying in a report by The Associated Press news agency. He would not say how many people had been targeted nationwide.

Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations has said more than 200 criminal cases on collaboration have been opened, while Zelenskyy has also stripped two security service generals of their rank over alleged collaboration, accusing them of treason.

An alarmed looking woman looks as Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) service members come up the stairs of her building during an operation to arrest suspected Russian collaborators in Kharkiv.
Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) troops raid a building in Kharkiv to arrest suspected Russian collaborators earlier this month [File: Felipe Dana/AP Photo]

Lavrov dismisses need for UN help on humanitarian corridors

The Russian foreign minister appears to have dismissed the need for the UN to help secure humanitarian corridors out of Ukraine’s besieged cities.

As an interviewer at Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV tried to ask Lavrov about UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for humanitarian assistance and the evacuation of civilians, Lavrov cut him off.

“There is no need. I know, I know,” Lavrov said, appearing irritated. “There is no need for anybody to provide help to open humanitarian corridors.”

Successive efforts to help civilians escape the devastated southern port city of Mariupol have failed.

Australian Olympic Committee backs humanitarian visas

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has said it will support Ukrainian athletes seeking to resettle in Australia on humanitarian grounds, according to the Reuters news agency.

Outgoing AOC President John Coates told the committee’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Saturday that it was “sad” young Ukrainian athletes were swapping sports equipment to take up arms against Russia.

“Today I announced that the AOC executive has by circular resolution last week, determined that the AOC will support humanitarian visa applications by Ukrainian athletes and will seek the assistance of you, our member sports, in their settlement requirements,” Coates said.

More than one million people evacuated into Russia since invasion: Lavrov

Lavrov says some 1.02 million people have been evacuated into Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The number includes 120,000 foreigners and people evacuated from the Russian-backed breakaway regions of Ukraine, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics.

Lavrov made the comments to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

Russia secures ‘tactical advances’ in Donetsk, Luhansk: IOW

The Institute for the Study of War (IOW) has released its latest update on the situation on the ground.

The key points:

  • Russia continued to shell the “entire front line” in Donetsk and Luhansk and “secured several tactical advances”.
  • Russian military probably intends to leave a “minimal force” in Mariupol to block Ukrainian forces in the Azovstal plant.
  • Ukraine recaptured Ruska Lozova and continued counterattacks northeast of Kharkiv.

US Marine killed in Ukraine ‘just wanted to help out’, his father says

The father of a former US Marine who was killed fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in the war with Russia has told The Washington Post that his son “just wanted to help out”.

Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, died on Monday and is the first known US citizen to die while fighting Russian forces in Ukraine.

“I’m not going to lie, I tried telling him, ‘Hey, think about it,’” Cancel’s father, who also served in the Marines, said. “He thought people needed help.”

US National Guard to send ageing equipment to Ukraine

At least five US states are sending their ageing M113 armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine, the Defense News website has reported.

According to the report, the governors of Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia have announced that they would be sending their M113s over to Ukraine, at the request of the Department of Defence.

The aid is part of Biden’s announcement to send an $800m military aid package to Ukraine that includes heavy artillery, ammunition and drones.


Zelenskyy praises US passage of WWII-era weapons programme

In his late-night address, Zelenskyy called the US move to revive the Lend-Lease Act that helped defeat Adolf Hitler’s Germany during World War Two, the “concrete proof” that freedom can defend itself against tyranny.

“I am sure now that the Lend-Lease will help Ukraine and the whole free world to beat the ideological successors of the Nazis, who started a war against us,” Zelenskyy said.

Pentagon spokesperson says Putin’s conduct of war ‘depraved’

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Friday condemned the way Russian President Vladimir Putin is conducting the war in Ukraine.

“Innocent people shot in the back of the head, hands tied behind their backs. Women, pregnant women being killed, hospitals being bombed. I mean, it’s just unconscionable,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.

“It’s brutality of the coldest and most depraved sort.”

Zelenskyy says defence of Ukraine is the ‘fight for our lives’

In his daily address, Zelenskyy says the situations in Kharkiv and Donbas are difficult amid constant Russian attacks.

“The situation in Kharkiv region is difficult,” he said. “The occupiers are doing everything to destroy any life at the Donbas territory. Constant cruel bombardments, constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas state that Russia wants to make this territory uninhabited. That’s why the defence of our land and our people is literally the fight for our lives.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a news conference.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attending a joint news conference, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Ukraine central bank makes changes to foreign currency market

Ukraine’s central bank has said it was making several changes to the foreign currency market to make it more stable and reduce pressure on the country’s international reserves.

From May 4, the limits of banks’ open long and short currency positions will be cut to 5 percent of their regulatory capital, down from 15 percent. The changes were announced in a statement posted on the bank’s website.

‘Begging to get saved’: Mariupol plant survivors in dire conditions

The UN continues to broker an evacuation of civilians from the increasingly hellish ruins of the besieged city of Mariupol.

The mayor of Mariupol said the situation inside the steel plant, which has become the southern port city’s last stronghold, is dire and citizens are “begging to get saved”.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko added: “There, it’s not a matter of days. It’s a matter of hours.”

Putin’s ‘middle finger’ to the UN sends clear message

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a missile attack on his city Kyiv was Putin’s way of giving “his middle finger” to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the West over the war in Ukraine.

Volodymyr Fesenko, a Ukrainian political analyst and head of the Kyiv-based Penta Center think-tank, said the missile attacks carried a message: “Russia is sending a clear signal about its intention to continue the war despite the international pressure.”

Guterres and his team were not hurt. Read more here

Ukraine to play friendly game against German team ahead of WC playoff

Ukraine’s national football team will play a friendly game against Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach next month in their first match since the country’s invasion, their national football association (UAF) has announced.

The game will be held at Borussia Park in Moenchengladbach, Germany, on May 11, with all proceeds going to Ukrainian charities.

“We’re very happy to be able to help the Ukrainian FA through this game,” said Gladbach Chief Executive Stephan Schippers. “[We] hope that as many football fans as possible from all over the country come to the stadium … all Ukrainian citizens will have free entry to the game.”

Soldier walking up stairs with a weapon in his right hand and pointing up with his left.
Ukraine service members enter a building during an operation to arrest suspected Russian collaborators in Kharkiv [Felipe Dana/AP]

Pro-Russia cyber-gang hits Romanian government websites

A pro-Russia cybercrime group attacked Romanian government websites over the country’s support for Ukraine.

A series of attacks hit “public institutions and private entities”, Romania’s National Cybersecurity Agency said in a statement.

The so-called DDoS attacks, where multiple requests are sent to a website to overload its servers, knocked several websites offline for a few minutes, including the defence ministry, border police, and railways.

No sign of Mariupol steel plant evacuation

As dusk fell on Ukraine, there was no sign that a planned evacuation of civilians out of the steelworks plant in Mariupol would be carried out.

President Zelenskyy expressed pessimism over the prospect of continued peace talks with Russia, blaming public anger on what he said were atrocities by Russian troops.

“People [Ukrainians] want to kill them. When that kind of attitude exists, it’s hard to talk about things,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Russia does not consider itself at war with NATO: Russia’s FM

Russia does not consider itself to be at war with NATO over Ukraine since such a development would increase the risks of a nuclear conflict, the RIA state news agency cited Lavrov as saying.

Lavrov also said Ukraine was at fault for stalled peace talks with Russia, blaming what he said was Kyiv’s changing negotiating positions.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read the updates from Friday, April 29 here.