Here’s what happened in Mariupol and beyond today.
Conflicting reports of evacuations: Russian state media said two buses carrying civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Friday. But Ukrainian officials said they could not comment on the evacuation of civilians from the factory organized by the United Nations and the International Red Cross. And the mayor of the Mariupol office told CNN he was unaware of the latest evacuations.
Zelensky alleges deportations: More than “500,000 Ukrainians have been deported to Russia” since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday. He also accused the Russians of blockade and starvation torture in Mariupol.
The G7 will meet this weekend: US President Joe Biden will virtually meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his G7 counterparts on Sunday morning during a meeting of the G7 forum, a National Security Council spokesperson said. Sanctions will be on the agenda of the meeting. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the timing of Sunday’s call before Russia’s VE Day was intentional.
Preparations for Victory Day: May 9, known as Victory Day in Russia, commemorates the country’s defeat by the Nazis in 1945. The Kremlin has said May 9 will not be “overshadowed” by events unfolding in Ukraine, adding that “the importance of this holiday cannot be overstated. “But this year’s parade is expected to be on a smaller scale than in previous years.
Some Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine on Monday, paving the way for him to step up his campaign.
Russia leaves its mark: Ukrainian officials have released footage from Mariupol showing what they call “the occupiers” continuing work to restore Soviet-era monuments. Petro Andrushchenko, an adviser to the city’s mayor, distributed new photographs on Friday claiming that in recent days all monuments from the Soviet period have been “restored”.
In addition, a senior official of Russia’s ruling United Russia party said on Friday that Russia had come to the Kherson region to “stay forever”, and that there should be “no doubt about it”. .
And new satellite images show Russia excavating the site of the heavily bombed Mariupol drama theatre.
Blocked grain: The blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports, along with infrastructure problems, are preventing the export of nearly 25 million tons of grain, according to a United Nations official.
CNN also reported that Russian forces were stealing thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers and targeting food storage sites with artillery, according to multiple sources.