Biden announces more artillery, radars for Ukraine’s war against Russia

President Joe Biden on Friday announced new US commitments of weaponry for Ukraine in its fight to repel Russia’s invasion, but said funding was close to running out and urged Congress to authorise more. To see how all the day’s events unfolded, read our liveblog below. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

10:57pm: Biden announces new security aid for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden announced on Friday a package of security assistance to Ukraine that will provide additional artillery munitions, radars and other equipment that a US official separately said was worth $150 million.

In a statement, Biden did not specify the amount. His administration has nearly exhausted funding from a drawdown authority and he urged Congress to pass his proposed $33 billion assistance package for Ukraine, he added.

10:46pm: Italy orders seizure of yacht linked by media to Russian president

The Italian government ordered on Friday the seizure of a yacht worth some $700 million that has been linked in the media to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The sleek, six-deck Scheherazade has been undergoing repairs in the Italian port of Marina di Carrara since September, but recent activity at the dockside has suggested the crew might be preparing to put to sea.

The Italian finance ministry said in a statement that investigations showed the owner of the boat had ties to “prominent elements of the Russian government” and with people targeted by European Union sanctions.

8:50pm: Artillery battles continue in Kherson region

The northern part of Kherson region is almost completely occupied by Russia forces, with the exception of several villages which were taken back by Ukrainian soldiers after a brief Russian occupation in early March. Artillery battles continue around those villages up until today. FRANCE 24’s correspondent Gulliver Cragg reports. 

8:11pm: Fifty civilians evacuated from Azovstal plant in Mariupol

Fifty Ukrainians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the battered Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Friday, officials in Kyiv said.

“Today we were able to evacuate from Azovstal 50 women, children and elderly people,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.

7:58pm: UK’s Johnson urges caution over Russia in call to France’s Macron

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, agreeing to work together more closely on security while urging against any negotiations with Russia that played into its “false narrative”.

A British readout on the call said the two leaders, who have endured a strained relationship, had committed to reinvigorate the “Anglo-French relationship”.

On Ukraine the readout said Johnson “urged against any negotiations with Russia on terms that gave credence to the Kremlin’s false narrative for the invasion, but stressed that this was a decision for the Ukrainian government.”

7:23pm: Unanimous UN Security Council declaration backs ‘peaceful’ Ukraine solution

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted its first declaration on Ukraine since Russia invaded in February, backing the Secretary-General’s efforts to find a “peaceful solution” to the war.

The declaration, drafted by Norway and Mexico and obtained by AFP, stopped short of supporting a mediation effort by Antonio Guterres, as was laid out in an earlier version of the text.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine,” the text adopted Friday said.

The 15-member council also “recalls that all Member States have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.”

The text ends by asking Guterres to submit a report to the council after the adoption of the declaration.

The declaration is the first show of unity from the Security Council since the beginning of the Ukraine war.

Shortly after the text was adopted, Russia vetoed a resolution condemning the invasion and asking Moscow to move its army back to Russian soil.

6:59pm: Biden expected to sign new $100 million weapons package for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden isexpected to sign a new weapons package for Ukraine in the coming days worth at least $100 million, three US officials told Reuters on Friday.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the latest package would likely include more munitions for systems like the Howitzers.

6:29pm: Russian foreign ministry summons UK ambassador over media sanctions

The 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 react “harshly and decisively” to all sanctions imposed by London.

Britain imposed sanctions on individual journalists and media organisations 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.

6:17pm: Bus with 12 civilians leaves besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol, reports RIA

A second bus, carrying 13 civilians including one child, on Friday left the Azovstal complex in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which is besieged by Russian forces, the Russian state news agency RIA reported on Friday, citing its correspondent on site.

Earlier on Friday, 12 people including children were brought from Azovstal to the Russian-controlled town of Bezimenne, hours after Ukraine had accused Russia of violating a ceasefire aimed at evacuating civilians trapped underground in the bombed-out steelworks.

4:30pm: New effort races to rescue civilians from Mariupol plant and city

A new international effort raced Friday to rescue more civilians from the tunnels under a besieged steel plant in Mariupol and the city at large, even as fighters holed up at the sprawling complex made their last stand to prevent Moscow’s complete takeover of the strategic port. Hundreds of civilians have made it out of Mariupol in the last week and they have been telling harrowing stories about the situation in the steel works. FRANCE 24’s Nadia Massih, reporting from Kyiv, provides more details below. 


‘We are expecting a parade of Russian soldiers in Mariupol’


2:45pm: Ukraine’s Zelensky: Russia thinks it can escape war crime prosecutions because of nuclear threat

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that Russia thought it could escape prosecutions for war crimes because of the threat of a nuclear attack.

“They do not believe that they can be made responsible for the war crimes because they have the power of the nuclear state”, Zelensky, speaking through a translator, told Britain’s Chatham House think tank.

“This is the 72nd day of the fully-fledged war and we can see no end of it yet and we cannot feel any willingness of the Russian side to end it.”

1:56pm: Ukraine finance minister calls for total embargo on Russian oil and gas

Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko called on Friday for a complete international embargo on Russian oil and gas over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Marchenko told an online briefing that Ukraine was struggling to balance its budget after 10 weeks of war and said that, as finance minister, he could not be satisfied with the speed at which financial assistance was arriving from abroad.

Referring to what he called the “insufficiency of the sanctions that have been introduced”, he said the high price of oil and natural gas meant Moscow had a budget surplus and “they feel quite comfortable”.

“The main issue is a complete embargo on the purchase of gas and oil from the Russian Federation. This is something that needs to be worked on and that the Ukrainian authorities are actively working on,” he said. “This will make it possible to remove the possibility of financing the war.”

1:09pm: Russian soldiers trying to storm Ukraine’s Severodonetsk

Russian forces have almost encircled Severodonetsk, the easternmost city in Ukraine held by Kyiv, and are trying to storm it, a local official said Friday.

“The city is almost surrounded by Russian and (separatist) Luhansk People’s Republic troops,” Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the Severodonetsk military administration said on Ukrainian television. “They are trying to storm the city through nearby villages,” he said, indicating moves for a multi-pronged attack.

Severodonetsk’s capture would be a major gain for the Russian army which has refocused its efforts on taking the whole of the eastern Donbas region.

12:46pm: G7 leaders to hold video conference with Zelensky on Sunday

Leaders of the world’s top industrialised nations will hold video talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the German government as the acting G7 chair said.

“The German chancellor (Olaf Scholz) will hold the third video conference since the start of the year with his G7 partners,” Christiane Hoffmann told reporters on Friday, noting that May 8 is a “historic date marking the end of World War II in Europe”.

“It will cover current issues, particularly the situation in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky will take part and report on the current situation in his country.”

12:44pm: Ukraine asks medical charity MSF to help evacuate Azovstal fighters

Ukraine has appealed to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders or MSF) to help evacuate fighters holed up in the vast Azovstal steel works in Mariupol that is surrounded by Russian forces.

Ukraine’s ministry for the reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories posted details on its website on Friday of a letter to the medical charity in which Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk expressed concern about “deplorable conditions” at the plant.

It quoted Vereshchuk as saying the MSF charter provided assistance to people in need or victims of armed conflict.

12:38pm: Ukraine war front lines extend from north of Kharkiv to near Mykolaiv

The battle lines between Ukrainian and Russian forces extend from north of the city of Kharkiv to the Black Sea coast near Mykolaiv. FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor Armen Georgian explains.

10:50am: Dnipro mayor says Russian strikes on infrastructure may not stop West’s weapons deliveries

Mayor Boris Filatov of the city of Dnipro says there are fears Russian forces may bomb local infrastructure targets, but that Western deliveries of weapons to Ukraine may still arrive despite such attacks. FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports.

Dnipro Mayor Boris Filatov speaks to FRANCE 24.
Dnipro Mayor Boris Filatov speaks to FRANCE 24. © France 24 screengrab

10:22am: Pro-Russia separatists take down Ukrainian road signs in Mariupol

Moscow-backed separatists in southeastern Ukraine said they had taken down traffic signs spelling out the name of the besieged city of Mariupol in Ukrainian and English, and replaced them with Russian signs.

“Updated road signs have been set up at the entrance to Mariupol,” the transportation ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said in a statement on Thursday.

The ministry released pictures of municipal workers in orange vests carrying away a road sign saying Mariupol in Ukrainian and English and installing a similar sign in Russian.

10:20am: Ukraine says Russian forces clearing bodies, ordnance from Mariupol in advance of possible Victory Day parade

Ukraine says Russian forces are clearing bodies and unexploded ordnance from Mariupol’s streets in advance of a possible parade that would coincide with Victory Day, which commemorates Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, on May 9. FRANCE 24’s Nadia Massih reports.

9:41am: Germany to send seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine

Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, on top of five such artillery systems the Dutch government already pledged, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Friday.

Germany reversed its long-held policy of not sending heavy weapons to war zones last week following pressure at home and abroad for it to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian attacks.

The weapons will be delivered as soon as they emerge from maintenance over the next weeks, Lambrecht and her chief of defence, General Eberhard Zorn, told reporters in the Slovak town of Sliac.

8:30am: ‘Almost 500 civilians’ evacuated from Mariupol, Kyiv says

Almost 500 civilians have been evacuated from Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant since a UN-led rescue operation began, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office said Friday.

“We have managed to evacuate almost 500 civilians,” Andriy Yermak said on Telegram. He said Kyiv will “do everything to save all its civilians and military” stuck in the devastated city, adding that the evacuations would continue.

UN- and Red Cross-led evacuations began on the weekend of April 30 to May 2.

7:52am: Hungary cannot support new EU sanctions against Russia in present form, Orban says

Hungary cannot support the European Union’s new sanctions package against Russia in its present form, including an embargo on Russian crude oil imports, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

Orban said the European Commission’s current proposal would amount to an “atomic bomb” dropped on the Hungarian economy, adding that Hungary was ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that would meet Hungarian interests.

5:36am: Documents found on yacht seized in Fiji implicate Russian owner

Authorities in Fiji have seized the $300 million yacht of Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov after the US justice department requested the vessel be held for violating sanctions and for alleged ties to corruption, the department said Thursday.

The five-year-old, 106-metre “Amadea” was berthed in Lautoka, Fiji when local authorities took control of it based on a US warrant and the justice department request.

Fiji authorities searching the yacht have found documents implicating its suspected owner in breaking US law, the FBI said.

Fiji police and FBI agents seized the Amadea at a wharf on Thursday, two days after a Fiji court granted the US warrant, which linked the vessel to money laundering.

12:27am: Pentagon denies helping Ukraine target Russian generals

The US defence department denied Thursday that it provided intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield so that Ukrainian forces could kill them.

Reacting to an explosive New York Times report on US support for Ukraine’s military, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said it was true that the United States supplies Kyiv’s forces with military intelligence “to help Ukrainians defend their country”.

“We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military,” Kirby said.

The New York Times reported late Wednesday that intelligence provided by the US has helped the Ukrainian military target and kill several Russian generals since Moscow’s invasion.

Citing anonymous senior US officials, the newspaper said that of the approximately dozen Russian generals killed by Ukrainian forces, “many” had been targeted with the help of US intelligence.

The White House National Security Council slammed the Times’s report as “irresponsible”.

“The United States provides battlefield intelligence to help the Ukrainians defend their country,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. “We do not provide intelligence with the intent to kill Russian generals.”

May 5, 11:55pm: Zelensky says Mariupol evacuation continued Thursday

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the evacuation of civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol had continued on Thursday but did not say how many people had managed to leave.

In a video address, Zelensky also said Russian forces were still storming and shelling the city’s Azovstal steel plant, where civilians and military forces are sheltering.

Zelensky also said Russia’s invasion has devastated hundreds of hospitals and other institutions and left doctors without drugs to tackle cancer or the ability to perform surgery. He said many places lacked even basic antibiotics in eastern and southern Ukraine, the focal points of the fighting.

Ukrainian President Zelensky said Russia was devastating hundreds of hospitals in a video address on May 5, 2022.
Ukrainian President Zelensky said Russia was devastating hundreds of hospitals in a video address on May 5, 2022. © Volodymyr Zelensky / screenshot

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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