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All women, children and elderly have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant, the final holdout against Russian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine's deputy prime minister said Saturday.
Soldiers and civilian men remain in the plant, where fighters are making their last stand to prevent Moscow’s complete takeover of the strategically important port city.
The war in Ukraine is also taking a “heavy toll” on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities, an intelligence briefing from Britain’s defense ministry said Saturday.
At least one T-90M, Russia’s most advanced tank, has been destroyed in the fighting, the ministry tweeted in a regular bulletin.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is expected to attend a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven world leaders Sunday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a guest, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
500 hospitals damaged, dozens of doctors killed and wounded since war began, Ukraine’s health minister says
Ukraine’s healthcare infrastructure has been badly damaged, in some cases beyond repair, Health Minister Viktor Liashko said.
Speaking on Ukrainian television, Liashko detailed the extent of the destruction and the toll on healthcare professionals in the weeks since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
“Since the beginning of the war, 10 of my colleagues (doctors) have been killed and more than 40 wounded,” Liashko said.
More than 40 hospitals have also been destroyed and cannot be rebuilt and about 500 hospitals have been damaged and cannot provide treatment, he said.
“All this violates the WHO motto: ‘Health for all,’” Liashko said.
Jill Biden hears heartbreak of Ukrainian moms now in Romania
BUCHAREST, Romania — Jill Biden on Saturday heard heartbreaking stories from Ukrainian women and children who fled Russia’s war and found safe haven across the border in Romania, and the American first lady praised the Romanian government and relief organizations for the range of humanitarian aid they are providing to refugees.
Most of those Ukrainians have moved on to other countries, but many — mainly women and children — have remained as the fighting rages.
“We stand with you,” Biden told mothers of some of the students after visiting classrooms where kids ages 5 to 15 attend school.
Pres. Zelenskyy on Telegram: ‘Every day of this war, the Russian army does something beyond words’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took to his official Telegram account Saturday to again decry the 'barbarism' being committed by Russian military in Odesa.
“Today, the invaders launched a missile strike on Odessa. In a city where almost every street has something memorable, something historical. But for the Russian army, it doesn’t matter. They would only kill and destroy. Odesa? Kharkiv region? Donbas? They do not care," Zelenskyy said. "Only the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the resistance of our people can stop this inhuman invasion. It’s barbarism that has rockets, but has nothing to do with people. Such actions of the Russian occupiers, and especially on the eve of the Day of Remembrance of All Victims of World War II and the Day of Victory over Nazism, should remind every state and every nation that it is impossible to defeat evil once and for all.”
Zelenskyy added, “Last night, the Russian army fired a rocket to destroy the Hryhoriy Skovoroda Museum in Kharkiv region. A rocket… To destroy the museum. Every day of this war, the Russian army does something that is beyond words. But every next day they do something that makes you feel it in a new way.”
Russia holds dress rehearsal for Victory Day parade
MOSCOW — Russia held a dress rehearsal on Saturday for the military parade to commemorate Victory Day on May 9, when the country marks the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.
This year’s Victory Day, which falls on Monday, won’t just honor a conflict that ended 77 years ago. Many Russians will be thinking about the thousands of troops in neighboring Ukraine. Signs of support for the military have grown across the country since Feb. 24, with the letter “Z” appearing on billboards and signs in the streets and subways, and on television and social media.
On Saturday, an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile rolled through Red Square as part of the rehearsal in Moscow, with warplanes and helicopters flying overhead, troops marching in formation and self-propelled artillery vehicles rumbling past.
Ukraine’s Deputy PM reports all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal steel plant
The Ukrainian deputy prime minister reported Saturday that all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from the steel plant in Azovstal. "This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed,” Iryna Vereshchuk said.
However soldiers and civilian men remain trapped in the plant.
'Enemy grouping with a white flag' came out of Azovstal steel plant, separatist leader says
An “enemy grouping with a white flag ” came out onto the road where civilians were being evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, a prominent commander of Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said Saturday.
Alexander Khodakovsky, who leads the “Vostok” battalion, said it was the first “face-to-face contact” made during the “whole time of the Mariupol blockade,” in a post on his Telegram channel that was translated by NBC News. He added that the group had been received by Russian soldiers.
However, the Azov Regiment, an experienced volunteer force with neo-Nazi roots that has been defending the sprawling area around the plant, denied that anyone had surrendered.
It said that white flags were used by both sides to evacuate civilians from the area, in a post on its Telegram channel that was translated by NBC News.
NBC has been unable to independently verify these reports. It is unclear as to whether it is remaining civilians who have surrendered themselves, or Ukrainian forces defending the plant.
Jill Biden praises Romania for efforts to aid Ukrainian refugees
First lady Jill Biden lauded the Romanian government for the help they were providing to Ukrainians fleeing the war, but warned it was “just the beginning.”
At a briefing with Romania’s leaders and humanitarian organizations at the U.S. Embassy in the country’s capital Bucharest, Biden called the show of solidarity “amazing,” but said, “I think this is really, unfortunately, just the beginning.”
Biden added that more needed to be done by the U.S. and its allies to assist Ukraine. “We wake up every morning and think ‘this has to end’ but it still keeps going on and on,” she said.
Biden also went to a Romanian public school hosting refugee students. After speaking with a Romanian teacher who described her own experience as a refugee Biden told her, “I hope you know, we stand with you.”
After leaving Romania, Biden will the travel to Slovakia's border with Ukraine where she will spend Mother's Day with refugees.
Russian ship destroyed near Snake Island, Ukraine's defense ministry says
Russia has lost another ship in its Black Sea fleet, Ukraine's defense ministry said Saturday.
An an unmanned combat aerial vehicle destroyed a Serna landing craft, the defense ministry said on Twitter.
NBC News was unable to verify the claim.
Ukrainian forces successfully sunk the Moskva, considered to be the most powerful ship in the Russian fleet last month.
In the early days of the war, the Moskva was part of what became an iconic incident, when officers on board ordered Ukrainian border guards on Ukraine’s Snake Island to surrender.
“Russian warship, go f--- yourself,” the guards answered. They were captured and later freed in a prisoner exchange.
'Large accumulation' of military equipment from U.S. and E.U. destroyed, Russia says
A “large accumulation” of military supplies from the U.S. and European Union was destroyed at a railway station in the northseastern city of Kharkiv, Russia's defense ministry said in a briefing Saturday.
“Rocket troops and artillery hit 44 control points and 196 strongholds of Ukrainian troops, areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the night,” the briefing said.
NBC News was not able to verify the claim which came after President Joe Biden announced a further military aid package of $150 billion to Ukraine, amid fears of Russian escalation.
Russian missile destroyed museum in Kharkiv, regional governnor says
A Russian missile strike on a museum in the northeastern city of Kharkiv caused a fire which engulfed the premises late Friday, the head Kharkiv regional state administration said.
The son of the director of the Hryhoriy Skovoroda National Museum was injured, Oleh Synegubov said in post on his Telegram channel which was translated by NBC News. Synegubov added that the director's son had been staying in the museum to guard it.
The museum, dedicated to Ukrainian philosopher Hryhoriy Skovoroda, was situated in the 18th century estate which was once his home, Synegubov said, adding that there was no damage to the collection, which had been moved to a safe place prior to the attack.
“They can destroy our museum,” he added. “But they cannot destroy our memory and our values.”
Wilful destruction of cultural heritage is a war crime, according to the International Criminal Court.
Italy freezes superyacht linked to Putin
Italy has ordered the seizure of a $700m superyacht linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin. The yacht was stationed in Tuscany where it had been undergoing repairs since September of last year, Reuters reports.
In a statement announcing the seizure order, the finance ministry did not name the owner, saying only that he had ties to “prominent elements of the Russian government.”
Dockside activity indicated that the yacht's crew might have been preparing to go to sea. An organisation set up by the imprisoned Alexei Navalny, a fierce Putin critic, released a report in March saying it had evidence that the boat belonged to Putin.
Diplomatic efforts underway to save Mariupol fighters, Zelenskyy says
Diplomatic efforts were underway to save the remaining fighters holed up inside the Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday after more civilians were evacuated from the bombed-out plant.
“We continue the evacuation mission from Mariupol, from Azovstal with the mediation of the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross" Zelenskyy said.
“During the day, our team organized rescue for more than 40 civilians — women and children,” he said. He added that “influential mediators” were involved in working on options to save troops who also remain inside.
Troops defending the plant have vowed not to surrender. Ukrainian officials believe that Russian forces want to wipe them out by Monday, to present the plant as a gift to Putin on Russia’s annual “Victory Day.”
War in Ukraine taking ‘heavy toll’ on Russian military, U.K. says
The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities, Britain's defense ministry said in an intelligence briefing Saturday.
At least one T-90M, Russia’s most advanced tank, has been destroyed in the fighting, the ministry tweeted in a regular bulletin.
It added that it will “be particularly challenging to replace modernized and advanced equipment due to sanctions restricting Russia’s access to critical microelectronic components.”
In April, Russia redirected its war efforts and resources to focus on the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, after logistical and supply issues contributed to the failure of its multi-fronted invasion of the nation. The loss of advanced military equipment is likely to hamper hopes of swift victory further.
Biden authorizes shipment of $150 million in military assistance for Ukraine
President Joe Biden on Friday authorized the shipment of another $150 million in military assistance for 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.
‘This is hypocrisy’: Zelenskyy lambasts West over Russia sanctions loopholes
Biden, Zelenskyy to attend virtual G7 meeting
President Joe Biden is expected to attend a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven world leaders Sunday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a guest, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
Psaki said the timing of the meeting of top economic nations should be noted because Russian President Vladimir Putin has “projected his desire” to use his nation’s Victory Day celebrations Monday to declare Russia’s defeat of Ukraine.
“I think it should not be lost, the significance of ... when this G7 meeting is happening,” Psaki said after a briefing Friday.
The G7 meeting will have Putin and the attack on Ukraine as a topic front-and-center, she said.
Group leaders, joined by Zelenskyy, will discuss “building on our unprecedented sanctions to impose severe costs for Putin’s war,” Psaki said.