Biden: US Sending Another $150 Million in AssistancePresident Joe Biden on Friday authorized the shipment of another $150 million in military assistance to Ukraine for artillery rounds and radar systems in its fight against Russia’s invading forces.
Biden said the latest spending means his administration has “nearly exhausted” what Congress authorized for Ukraine in March and called on lawmakers to swiftly approve a more than $33 billion spending package that will last through the end of September.
“We are sending the weapons and equipment that Congress has authorized directly to the front lines of freedom in Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement. “U.S. support, together with the contributions of our Allies and partners, has been critical in helping Ukraine win the battle of Kyiv and hinder Putin’s war aims in Ukraine.”
A U.S. official said the latest tranche of assistance includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment, field equipment, and spare parts.
50 People Evacuated From Mariupol Steel MillFifty civilians were evacuated Friday from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
In a statement, the Russian Interdepartmental Humanitarian Response Center says the 50 civilians include 11 children.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, also said 50 civilians left the plant without giving a breakdown of how many were children.
Both Vereshchuk and the Russian body said the evacuation of civilians from Azovstal will continue Saturday.
Ukrainian fighters holed up at the sprawling complex are making their last stand to prevent Moscow’s complete takeover of the strategic port city.
US Offers $15 Million Reward for Information on Conti Ransomware GroupThe United States on Friday offered a reward of up to $15 million for information on the Russia-based Conti ransomware group, which has been blamed for cyber extortion attacks worldwide, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The FBI estimates that more than 1,000 victims of the Conti group have paid a total in excess of $150 million in ransomware payments, Price said in a statement.
"In offering this reward, the United States demonstrates its commitment to protecting potential ransomware victims around the world from exploitation by cyber criminals," he said.
The reward comprises $10 million for the identification or the location of leaders of the group, and $5 million for information that results in the arrest of anyone conspiring with Conti.
Last year, the FBI said Conti was responsible for striking 16 medical and first responder networks in the United States.
Price noted that Conti was blamed for an attack in April on Costa Rica's tax and customs platforms, impacting the Central American country's foreign trade.
In February, the Conti group vowed to attack enemies of the Kremlin if they respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
UN Security Council, Including Russia, Expresses Concern About UkraineThe United Nations Security Council, including Russia, on Friday expressed "deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine" and backed efforts by the U.N. chief to find a peaceful solution in the body's first statement since Moscow's invasion.
"The Security Council expresses strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General in the search for a peaceful solution," reads the statement, which also requests U.N. chief Antonio Guterres brief the council again "in due course."
Guterres welcomed the council's support on Friday, saying he would "spare no effort to save lives, reduce suffering and find the path of peace."
The Security Council statement was agreed upon despite a diplomatic tit-for-tat that has been escalating since Russia launched on Feb. 24 what it calls a "special military operation" and what Guterres blasted as Russia's "absurd war."
2 Self-Proclaimed Separatist Republics in Ukraine Appointed Ambassadors to Moscow: Russian State AgenciesRussian state agencies reported that two self-proclaimed separatist republics in Ukraine’s industrial east both appointed extraordinary ambassadors to Moscow on Friday.
Olga Makeeva, the deputy chair of the legislative assembly of the Donetsk People’s Republic, was chosen by the territory’s Russia-backed government as its representative. Her counterpart from the Luhansk People’s Republic is Rodion Miroshnik, a foreign policy adviser to the separatist territory’s leader.
A Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman condemned the appointments, saying Makeeva and Miroshnik will likely face criminal punishment for high treason.
“It’s a country of crooked mirrors. Russia has created pseudo-republics. It appointed ambassadors, from itself to itself… These ‘diplomats’ will face the most severe responsibility. As will other traitors,” Oleg Nykolenko wrote in a Telegram post on Friday.
Ukraine Announces New Prisoner Exchange With RussiaRussia has handed over 41 people, including 28 military members, in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Friday.
Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app that it was "especially gratifying" that a senior representative of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was among those returned to Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Ministry Summons UK Ambassador Over Media SanctionsThe Russian foreign ministry said on Friday it had summoned Deborah Bronnert, Britain's ambassador to Russia, and strongly protested in relation to new UK sanctions on Russian media.
The ministry said in a statement Russia would continue to react "harshly and decisively" to all sanctions imposed by London.
Britain imposed sanctions on individual journalists and media organizations earlier in May in its latest wave of measures designed to increase pressure on Moscow to stop what it calls "a special military operation" in Ukraine.
G7 Leaders, Ukraine's Zelenskyy to Hold Talks on SundayGroup of Seven (G7) leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a video call on Sunday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a show of unity the day before Russia marks its Victory Day holiday, the White House said.
Talks will focus on the latest developments in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, efforts to bolster the country and ways to demonstrate "continued G7 unity in our collective response, including by imposing severe costs for Putin’s war," a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council said on Monday.
The leaders of the G7 countries, which include the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Italy, will hold their virtual meeting with Zelenskyy on Sunday in the U.S. morning, the spokesperson added.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew to Ohio for the day, Psaki said the timing of the session was significant because it will take place a day before Putin participates in Victory Day. The holiday on Monday marks the end of World War Two and includes military parades across Russia.
"While he expected to be marching through the streets of Kyiv, that certainly is not going to happen," she said.
Russia Says Its Missiles Hit 31 Areas Where Ukrainian Forces Were Deployed: RIARussia's defense ministry said on Friday its missiles hit a weapons depot near the eastern Ukrainian city of Popasna and hit 31 areas where Ukrainian forces were deployed, RIA news agency reported.
It also said Russian forces shot down one Ukrainian SU-27 warplane in the eastern Luhansk region, Interfax reported.
It was not possible to independently verify the claims.
Ukraine Warns More Shelling Amid Victory DayOfficials from Ukraine’s national security council warned residents Friday against the increased risk of shelling on Sunday and Monday, coinciding with Russia’s Victory Day celebrations.
A Facebook post published on the profile of the Center for Counteracting Disinformation, under the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, urged Ukrainians not to ignore air raid sirens.
“Since Russian troops cannot boast of any significant achievements on the front by Victory Day, the risk of massive shelling of Ukrainian cities these days is increasing,” the post said.
Separately on Friday, Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said authorities will not be extending the curfew in Kyiv; one has already been introduced. But street patrols would be reinforced.
Russian Village Being Evacuated Due to Ukraine ShellingA village in Russia’s southern Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, is being evacuated due to shelling from Ukrainian territory, the regional governor said Friday.
Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram that as of Friday afternoon, fewer than 30 people remained in the village of Nekhoteevka, located directly next to a border crossing.
“We have already taken most of the residents to a safe place,” he said, adding that five houses had been damaged by shelling. His post featured two photos of what appeared to be the same damaged building.
The accuracy of Gladkov’s claims could not be immediately verified, nor did his post specify the number of people currently living in Nekhoteevka. Russia’s 2010 census referenced the village as having 145 permanent residents.
Russia Senator Says Russia Will Remain Forever in KhersonA Russian senator said Friday that Russia will remain “forever” in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, whose capital has been occupied by Moscow’s troops since early March.
Andrey Turchak from the ruling United Russia party visited Kherson on Friday, meeting with its Russian-appointed governor Volodymyr Saldo.
“I want to say once again—Russia is here forever. There should be no doubt about it,” Turchak is heard saying in a video published by Russia’s state RIA Novosti agency.
“We will live together, develop this rich region, rich in historical heritage, rich thanks to the people who live here,” he added.
German Chancellor Says His Country Is Providing Ukraine With All the Support They Can GiveGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz says his country is providing Ukraine with “all the support we can give and also take responsibility for” in its war with Russia.
Speaking to business leaders in Hamburg on Friday, Scholz said Russia must not gain the upper hand in the conflict, which he described as a “war of destruction” waged by Moscow against Ukraine.
The German leader said that Russia’s position as a global power with a seat on the U.N. Security Council means that “if (Vladimir) Putin gets away with it then there’s a risk of international lawlessness.”
Ukraine Leader Open to Talks With RussiaUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he is still open to negotiations with Russia, but he repeated his position that Moscow must withdraw its forces to their pre-invasion positions.
Zelenskyy told a meeting at London’s Chatham House think-tank on Friday that “regaining the situation as of the 23rd of February”—the day before the invasion—is a prerequisite for talks.
He said “in that situation we will be able to start discussing things normally,” and Ukraine could use “diplomatic channels” to regain its territory.
The British government, a key ally of Ukraine, has said Russia must be driven from all of Ukraine, including Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Ukrainian Officials Say Russian Firing Hampers Rescue of Mariupol CiviliansUkrainian officials accused Russia of violating a ceasefire on Friday aimed at evacuating scores of civilians trapped in a bombed-out steelworks in the city of Mariupol, after fighting thwarted efforts to rescue them the previous day.
Mariupol, a strategic southern port on the Azov Sea, has endured the most destructive siege of the 10-week-old war, and the sprawling Soviet-era Azovstal plant is the last part of the city still in the hands of Ukrainian fighters.
U.N.-brokered evacuations of some of the hundreds of civilians who had taken shelter in the plant's network of tunnels and bunkers began last weekend, but were halted in recent days by renewed fighting.
The head of Ukraine's presidential staff, Andriy Yermak, said the next stage of the rescue was under way on Friday, but Mariupol authorities said Russian forces had fired at a car that was involved, killing one Ukrainian fighter and wounding six.
Russia had no immediate comment.
Documents Found by Fiji on Superyacht Implicate Its Russian Owner: FBIFiji authorities searching a yacht they seized on behalf of the United States as it presses Russia over the invasion of Ukraine have found documents implicating its suspected owner, Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, in breaking U.S. law, the FBI said.
The Amadea arrived in Fiji on April 13, after an 18-day voyage from Mexico, and has since been the focus of a U.S. bid to seize it as part of U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Fiji police and FBI agents seized the Amadea at a wharf on Thursday, two days after a Fiji court granted a U.S. warrant that linked it to money laundering.
Fiji's High Court on Friday refused a stay application by the vessel's registered owner, Millemarin Investments, to stop U.S. authorities removing it from Fiji, Fiji's public prosecutor said in a statement.
The $300 million superyacht had been handed over to U.S. authorities, it said.
Kremlin Says Time for Celebrating Victory Day in Mariupol Will ComeThe Kremlin said on Friday it did not know whether there would be a parade in Mariupol on May 9 to commemorate the Soviet Union's victory in World War II, but that the time for celebrating Victory Day there would come.
Russian forces say they have captured Mariupol despite ongoing resistance from Ukrainian forces in the Donbass region city's Azovstal steel plant.
"The time will come to mark Victory Day in Mariupol," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a briefing on Friday, when asked about plans for May 9 in territory recently seized by Russian-backed forces.
Russian Will Not Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine: Foreign MinistryRussia will not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, foreign ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said on Friday.
Zaitsev told reporters the use of nuclear weapons by Russia—a risk that Western officials have publicly discussed—was not applicable to what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine.
CIA director William Burns said on April 14 that given the setbacks Russia had suffered in Ukraine, "none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons."
Hungary's Orban Rejects EU Ban on Russian OilA European Union embargo on Russian oil would be equivalent to dropping an “atomic bomb” on Hungary’s economy and could thus not be accepted, the country’s prime minister said on Friday.
Speaking on state radio, Viktor Orban reiterated earlier statements from Hungarian officials that Hungary would not support a new round of proposed EU sanctions against Russia if they included a ban on Russian oil exports.
Orban said that while his government is willing to negotiate on any EU proposals that are in Hungary’s interests, the country’s geography and existing energy infrastructure make a shutdown of Russian oil unfeasible.
“We cannot accept a proposal that ignores this circumstance because in its current form it is equivalent to an atomic bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy,” Orban said.
Hungary’s government has firmly opposed EU plans to include Russian energy exports in its sanctions against Moscow, arguing that 85 percent of Hungary’s gas and more than 60 percent of its oil comes from Russia.
On Friday, Orban said that converting Hungary’s oil refineries and pipelines to be able to process oil from different sources would take five years and require massive investment.
Germany Will Supply Ukraine With Powerful Self-Propelled HowitzersGermany’s defense minister confirmed Friday that her country will supply Ukraine with seven powerful self-propelled howitzers to help defend itself against Russia.
Christine Lambrecht said Ukrainian soldiers will be trained in Germany to use the self-propelled Panzerhaubitze 2000 artillery, which is capable of firing precision ammunition at a distance of up to 40 kilometers (25 miles).
Germany has stepped up its material support for Ukraine in recent weeks, after the government’s initial reticence to provide heavy weapons drew widespread criticism.
Russian Effort to Seize the Steel Plant in Mariupol ContinuesThe Ukrainian military says the Russian effort to seize the steel plant in Mariupol continues.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces issued a daily statement Friday saying that “the blockade of units of the defense forces in the Azovstal area continues.”
It added: “In some areas, with the support of aviation, resumed assault operations to take control of the plant.”
Elsewhere in the country, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces are conducting surveillance flights of territory. In the hard-hit areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine’s military said it repulsed 11 enemy attacks and destroyed tanks and armored vehicles. There was no immediate acknowledgement of those losses by Russia.
Russia Says It Destroyed Large Ammunition Depot in East UkraineRussia's defense ministry said on Friday that its missiles destroyed a large ammunition depot in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk.
It also said its air defenses shot down two Ukrainian warplanes, an Su-25 and a MiG-29, in the eastern Luhansk region.
It was not possible to independently verify the claims.
Russian Fighting Destroys, Damages Nearly 400 Hospitals, Medical Centers: ZelenskyyRussia's invasion of Ukraine has devastated hundreds of hospitals and other medical institutions and left doctors without drugs to tackle cancer or the ability to perform surgery, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy said many places lacked even basic antibiotics in eastern and southern Ukraine, the main battlefields.
"If you consider just medical infrastructure, as of today Russian troops have destroyed or damaged nearly 400 health care institutions: hospitals, maternity wards, outpatient clinics," Zelenskyy said in a video address to a medical charity group on Thursday.
In areas occupied by Russian forces the situation was catastrophic, he said.
"This amounts to a complete lack of medication for cancer patients. It means extreme difficulties or a complete lack of insulin for diabetes. It is impossible to carry out surgery. It even means, quite simply, a lack of antibiotics."
In one of the most widely denounced acts of the war, a maternity hospital was all but destroyed on March 9 in the besieged port city of Mariupol. Russia alleged pictures of the attack were staged and said the site had been used by armed Ukrainian groups.
The Kremlin says it targets only military or strategic sites and does not target civilians. Ukraine daily reports civilian casualties from Russian shelling and fighting, and accuses Russia of war crimes. Russia denies the allegations.
Pentagon: Most Russian Forces Left MariupolThe Pentagon says the majority of Russian forces that had been around the port city of Mariupol have left and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups there, or about 2,000 troops.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that even as Russian airstrikes continue to bombard Mariupol, Moscow’s forces are still making only “plodding” and incremental progress as the main fight presses on in the eastern Donbass region.
He said he has seen no change in Russian behavior or momentum as May 9 draws near.
Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9, the anniversary of the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. There have been suggestions that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to tout a major victory in Ukraine when he makes his address during the traditional military parade on Red Square.
Spain Frees Ukrainian Politician Facing Alleged TreasonA court in Spain on Thursday ordered the provisional release of Anatoly Shariy, a Ukrainian politician and blogger who was arrested after being accused of treason in his home country.
Shariy was arrested on Wednesday near the coastal city of Tarragona under an international arrest warrant issued by Ukraine, according to Spain’s National Court. Court documents said Shariy is accused of “high treason and incitement of hatred.”
Citing the “circumstances of the case” and Shariy’s connections to Spain, the judge declined to keep him in custody. Instead Shariy was ordered to surrender his passport, report regularly to authorities and remain in Spain, where he has reportedly lived since 2019.
The court said the measures would remain in place for 40 days in order to allow Ukraine to formally request Shariy's extradition.
His arrest in Spain was announced by Ukraine’s security services on Thursday, who said there was reason to believe Shariy “was acting on behalf of foreign entities.”
Shariy, the founder of a political party considered by many in Ukraine to be pro-Russian, has been a vocal critic of Ukraine’s government. As recently as Tuesday he tweeted that he had been warned that Ukrainian intelligence was trying to track him down.
Ukrainian media reported that a member of Shariy’s political party said in February, prior to the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, that Shariy had been granted asylum in the European Union. It was not immediately possible to confirm that report.