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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said a new operation to evacuate civilians stranded in Mariupol and other communities was completed on Wednesday.
"Once again, our team from the United Nations and colleagues from the International Committee of the Red Cross worked together to bring people who wanted to leave areas experiencing hostilities to safety, with the agreement of the parties to the conflict," said Osnat Lubrani, UN OCHA's humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.
More than 300 civilians from Mariupol and the surrounding towns of Manhush, Berdiansk, Tokmak and Vasylivka were in Zaporizhzhia and receiving humanitarian assistance.
Many came with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, and we will now support them during this difficult time, including with much-needed psychological support," Lubrani said.
Some context: This was the second evacuation of civilians from areas in Mariupol coordinated by the UN and Red Cross, the statement said. Last weekend, more than 100 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant and arrived safely in Zaporizhzhia.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol and surrounding areas to Zaporizhzhia.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has condemned Russia’s entry ban on Japanese officials, including himself, as “completely unacceptable."
The prime minister made the comment during a state visit to Rome on Wednesday.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear violation of international law and the killing of a large number of innocent civilians is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime,” Kishida told reporters.
“It is the Russian side that has resorted to military means and caused this situation. The Russian side is entirely responsible for the breakdown of Japan-Russia relations."
Russia had "indefinitely" banned 63 Japanese citizens, including Kishida, from entering the country, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday.
Members of Kishida's cabinet, including Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, and Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki have also been barred from entry, as well as members of the parliament and the military, RIA reported.
Some context: Since March, Japan has introduced a series of sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of President Vladimir Putin and his family members in response to the invasion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol and surrounding areas to Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday, during his nightly address.
“I am grateful to all those who make the evacuation operation successful,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky also called for a ceasefire to evacuate those who remain in Mariupol.
“We are negotiating and hope to continue rescuing people from Azovstal, from Mariupol. There are still civilians, women, children. We need a continued ceasefire in order to rescue them,” he said
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett about "scandalous" remarks made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserting that Hitler had Jewish blood.
In his nightly address Wednesday, Zelensky said he spoke to Bennett to congratulate him on Israel Independence Day and update him on the situation in the southern city of Mariupol and eastern Ukraine.
"We also discussed the scandalous and absolutely inadmissible statements by the Russian Foreign Minister who insulted the whole world," the Ukrainian President said.
In an interview with Italian television Sunday, Lavrov repeated Russia's claim that its invasion of Ukraine is part of efforts to "de-Nazifiy" the country.
The foreign minister dismissed the fact that Zelensky is Jewish, saying: "He [Zelensky] puts forward an argument: what kind of Nazism can they have if he is a Jew. I may be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. It means absolutely nothing. The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews."
Lavrov's remarks sparked fury amongst the Israeli government, who swiftly summoned the Russian Ambassador to Israel.
CNN's Hadas Gold contributed to this report.
The smell of burnt wire and rubber still lingered in the air around the railway power station on the outskirts of Lviv Wednesday morning, hours after the blaze was extinguished. A group of investigators was collecting debris from the Russian rockets that struck this place the evening before. Now it serves as evidence of Russia’s attempts to systematically destroy key infrastructure.
The Lviv power station was among six railway facilities in central and western Ukraine targeted by Russian forces on Tuesday evening, according to the chairman of Ukrainian Railways Olexander Kamyshin.
The coordinated strikes briefly knocked out power in parts of the region and caused long delays to more than 40 trains.
“There were also disruptions on our pumping stations, which are supplying the city with water,” Lviv Deputy Mayor Serhiy Kiral told CNN. He said contingency plans were executed to ensure the water supply was not impacted by the strikes.
Tuesday’s attack marks the latest in a series of recent attacks on the country’s infrastructure, with the railway network now one of Russia’s key targets.
On Wednesday, Russia said it believed any weapons – including NATO equipment – arriving into and moving within Ukraine were targets, according to Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
Five train stations in western and central Ukraine were hit in the space of an hour on April 25. Two days later, a missile struck a rail and road bridge across the Dniester Estuary that links the southern port city of Odesa with the country’s far southwest region. Then on Friday, another important railway bridge was blown up near the town of Sloviansk in the eastern Donetsk region.
Earlier in April, in one of the deadliest attacks so far, at least 50 people – including five children – were killed after Russian forces carried out a missile strike on a railway station in Kramatorsk.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that Russian forces were “attempting to hit what we assess to be critical infrastructure targets out towards the West” in Ukraine including “electrical power, transportation hubs, that kind of thing.”
Kirby said that despite the most recent attacks, the US is still able to “flow” military assistance into the region, including “weapons systems” and other materials.
The national railway has always played a crucial economic role in Ukraine, transporting agriculture and heavy industry exports across the country’s vast territory.
But since the Russian invasion began in late February, the train network has become Ukraine’s lifeline to the outside world: It’s how weapons, supplies and humanitarian aid get into the country.
Read more here.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea for peace during a taped address to Denmark on the 77th anniversary of the Scandinavian country's liberation from Germany during World War II.
"The Russian state is not ready to stop the war. They're dreaming of capturing Ukraine and other European countries. They're still dreaming that the freedom of Europe will disappear. But their dreams will not come true. The dream of peace shall come true," he said, "Just like it happened 77 years ago."
Zelensky's remarks were broadcasted to crowds who had gathered in public squares to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation.
In his speech, Zelensky cautioned that Russia's invasion may spread to other European countries.
"It is now in Ukraine that the future of our continent is decided. Whether not only we but our neighbors will have peace," he said, "No one can tell how many more days this war will go on. But I do believe our day of liberation is coming close."
Zelensky also thanked Danish supporters of Ukraine and asked them to remember the children who have died in Ukraine.
"Please remember Ukrainian children, 220 children whose lives were taken by this war. Please remember that Europe is capable of putting an end to the extension of this," he said.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Wednesday that new battles have broken out at the Azovstal plant, where hundreds of civilians are still trapped inside along with the last Ukrainian defenders in the city.
"Today there are heavy battles on the territory of our fortress, on the territory of Azovstal. Our brave guys are defending this fortress, but it is very difficult, because heavy artillery and tanks are firing all over the fortress; aviation is working, ships have approached and are also firing on the fortress," Boichenko said.
Speaking on Ukrainian television, Boichenko said there were 30 children trapped at the plant still waiting to be rescued.
"They are waiting for a new negotiation procedure and a new evacuation mission," he said.
"We must understand that people are still dying. Unfortunately, enemy aviation and artillery are working and firing on the fortress constantly," he said. Two young women were killed at Azovstal earlier this week, he added.
Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:
- Ukrainian commander at Azovstal says "enemy" broke into the plant complex during battles: The commander of the Azov Regiment soldiers inside the Azovstal plant, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko, says there are heavy battles unfolding in the complex after Russian forces breached its perimeter. Earlier Wednesday, the Ukrainian foreign minister said the plant still "holds" — despite relentless Russian attacks. "Despite all the statements by Russian officials that Mariupol is under their full control, this is not true. Azovstal, the stronghold — the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol — still holds," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a Twitter livestream. In an interview with Radio Svoboda, Ukrainian parliament member David Arakhamia had confirmed that Russian troops have already reached the premises of the Azovstal steel plant. Arakhamia, who has led Ukrainian delegation in talks with Russia, also confirmed that Ukrainian authorities had managed to regain communications with Ukrainian fighters at Azovstal after losing touch with them earlier on Wednesday.
- Russia says it will open evacuation corridors from the Azovstal plant Thursday: The Russian Ministry of Defense says it expects to open evacuation corridors for civilians out of the Azovstal steel plant near Mariupol starting Thursday. "On May 5th , 6th and 7th , 2022, from 08:00 to 18:00 (Moscow time), in accordance with the decision of the leadership of the Russian Federation, which is based on humane principles, the Russian Armed Forces will open a humanitarian corridor from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant to evacuate civilians (workers, women and children), whose presence in the underground facilities of the plant was once again announced by the Kyiv authorities," the Russian Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday.
- Approximately 2,000 Russian troops remain in Mariupol, a senior US defense official says: Approximately 2,000 Russian troops — or the equivalent of two Russian battalion tactical groups (BTG) — remain dedicated to Mariupol, according to a senior US defense official. However, 10 Russian BTG’s that had been dedicated to the city are now attempting to move north and have paused, “either to create better defensive positions or to refit and re-posture themselves,” just south of the town of Velyka Novosilka, according to the official. The official said that the remaining forces in and around Mariupol may include some non-Russian fighters, including Chechens. Russian military progress in Ukraine “remains slow and uneven” in the north of the country, according to the official.
- Ukraine retakes a Kharkiv region village and inches closer towards Russian border: Ukrainian forces have retaken another village in the northern Kharkiv region as a counteroffensive continues against Russian forces. In a video circulating on Telegram, troops were seen placing a flag on a building in the village of Molodova, just 13 miles (almost 21 kilometers) southeast of the Ukraine-Russia border. CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video. "This is how we liberate," a soldier is heard saying in the video. "Step-by-step, village-by-village. Our land." The counteroffensive to retake territory in Kharkiv has retaken a number of villages — about half a dozen in the area — in the last two weeks.
- UK announces more Russia sanctions and targets media outlets over "disinformation": The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced further sanctions against 63 Russian citizens and entities, including against Russian media companies "behind Putin's vicious disinformation campaign" and their employees. Russian war correspondents embedded with Russian forces in Ukraine and several Russian media outlets are among those sanctioned. Aside from asset freezes and travel bans, new legislation introduced means social media, internet services and app store companies "must take action to block content from two of Russia's major sources of disinformation, RT and Sputnik," according to the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
- EU wants to remove Russia's largest bank from SWIFT system and ban state-owned broadcasters: In addition to proposing a ban on Russian oil, the European Union is taking several other measures against Moscow over its war in Ukraine, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday. In a series of tweets, she said the bloc plans to: List individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha, Ukraine; remove Russia's largest bank Sberbank and two other companies from the SWIFT system, a messaging service that connects financial institutions around the world; ban three Russian state-owned broadcasters from the European airwaves because they "amplify Putin's lies and propaganda aggressively."
- Biden says US is "open to additional sanctions" on Russia after EU announces new round of sanctions: After the European Union and UK announced additional sanctions on Russia, US President Joe Biden said "we are always open to additional sanctions." He added: "I'll be speaking with the members of the G7 this week about what we're going to do or not do," Biden told reporters at the White House Wednesday while discussing the US economy.
The commander of the Azov Regiment soldiers inside the Azovstal plant, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko, says there are heavy battles inside the complex after Russian forces breached its perimeter.
“For two days now, the enemy has broken into the territory of the plant. There are heavy bloody battles," he said.
Prokopenko continued, "I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the enemy's onslaught. I thank the whole world for the tremendous support of the Mariupol garrison. The situation is extremely difficult, but we continue to carry out the order to keep the defense."