the Russian offensive on Azovstal and in the Donbass continues

the Russian offensive on Azovstal and in the Donbass continues

On the 70th day of the Russian invasion in Ukraine this Wednesday, May 4, the Russian army and pro-Russian separatists launched an offensive on the Azovstal factory in Mariupol, where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are entrenched. Several Ukrainian towns were also targeted by missile fire.

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Dots essentials :

► Russia on Tuesday launched the assault on the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupolthe industrial complex Azovstal. During a 2-hour telephone interview on Tuesday with Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron called on his counterpart to “ allow evacuations from the Azovstal plant to continue. » More than a hundred civilians were able to get out on Saturdaykyiv hopes that the evacuations will be able to resume this Wednesday.

► The sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine will not be lifted until Moscow concludes a peace agreement with Ukraine, says German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adding that Ukraine must decide the circumstances of this agreement. The head of European diplomacy, Joseph Borrelannounced that a sixth set of sanctions was in preparation, targeting the banking and energy sectors.

► According to a latest UNHCR count, more than 3,000 civilians were killed in fighting and shelling since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

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07:33 am: German exports fall by 3.3% in March, those to Russia by 62%

07:24: Moscow says Israelis fight with Azov regime

I’m going to say something Israeli politicians probably don’t want to hear, but maybe they’ll be interested. In Ukraine, Israeli mercenaries stand alongside Azov militants », [que la Russie qualifie de « nazi »]said the spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy Maria Zakharova in an interview with Sputnik radio.

6:55 a.m .: Ursula Von der Leyen proposes a gradual European embargo on Russian oil, with an exemption for Hungary and Slovakia

We will phase out Russian deliveries of crude oil within six months and of refined products by the end of the year “, she detailed in front of the MEPs in Strasbourg. Hungary and Slovakia could continue to buy Russian oil until the end of 2023.

The President of the European Commission presents the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, soon to be submitted for adoption by the 27. Brussels also wants to exclude three new Russian banks from Swift, including Sberbank, Russia’s largest banking institution.

By hitting ” banks of essential systemic importance for the Russian financial system “, this will reinforce his “ total isolation and undermine Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine, she said.

6:31 am: Brussels proposes to sanction the head of the Russian Orthodox Church

The European Commission has proposed to sanction the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, as part of a sixth package of measures in response to the war in Ukraine, according to a document seen today by AFP.

The new list, which will still have to be approved by member states, includes 58 sanctioned figures, including many Russian servicemen, but also the wife, daughter and a son of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

06:08 am: Norwegian energy giant Equinor reports huge Q1 profit, driven by oil and gas prices

During the first three months of the year, the Norwegian public group generated a net profit of 4.7 billion dollars, despite an exceptional charge of more than one billion linked to its withdrawal from Russia, according to its quarterly report. Revenue also more than doubled from the first quarter last, to nearly $36.4 billion.

With the sanctions hitting Moscow and the European efforts to do without oil and gas, Norway, the second European supplier of hydrocarbons, has particularly benefited from the strong demand, even if it has only been able to increase its production marginally. Equinor, 67% owned by the Norwegian state, has mechanically benefited from this, especially since the group is, unlike other European giants such as BP, Shell or Total, relatively little present in Russia.

05:00: As Russian military efforts focus on Donbass and Mariupol to the south, Odessa too fears being a target, reports our special correspondent Anastasia Becchio

Along with the battle of Donbass in the east, the Russians are also trying to advance south: the sirens sounded several times in the evening and at night in Odessa. The town hall speaks of three shots that hit infrastructure without causing injuries and a strike on Artsyz, 115 km southwest of the city.

The fear here is that the major Black Sea port is among Moscow’s objectives, especially since a Russian general claimed that the offensive would aim to establish a corridor from Russia to the breakaway Moldovan region of TransnistriaClose.

The Russian army notably bombarded a bridge over the Dniester estuary several times, making traffic from Romania and Moldova much more chaotic.

Faced with the threat, Moldova is closely monitoring the situation, reports our special correspondent in Chisinau, Juliette Gheerbrant. The small country fears to be the next target if Russia launches a major offensive on southern Ukraine. Controls were therefore redoubled and military forces mobilized in the self-proclaimed state of Transnistria. ►Listen to this report.

04:58: Belarus launches military exercises and assures that they do not represent a ” threatens »

The Belarusian army today launched military exercises in order to check its combat readiness, reports the TASS news agency citing the Belarusian Defense Ministry.

The ministry said the drills posed no threat to its neighbors or the European community. Belarus shares an 891 km border with Ukraine.

04:51: In Odessa, the divisions and questioning of Russian speakers

In eastern and southern Ukraine, the main regions targeted by the Russian offensive, the majority of the population is itself Russian-speaking, a legacy of the country’s Soviet past. Today, more and more Ukrainians refuse to speak this language seen as that of the enemy.

Listen to the testimony of a family from Odessa caught in the trap of this paradox, collected by our special correspondents Aabla Jounaidi and Oriane Verdier.

4:40 a.m.: The towns of Izium, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, north of the Donbass, targeted very probably by the Russian army, according to the United Kingdom

Russia has deployed 22 tactical battalions near the town of Izium in Kharkiv Oblast in an attempt to advance along the northern Donbass axis, the UK MoD reports on Twitter .

Despite its difficulties in breaking through Ukrainian defenses and building momentum, Russia most likely intends to move beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk. Capturing these cities would allow Russia to consolidate its military control over northeastern Donbass.

4:17 a.m .: With the continuation of the Russian offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine, in Odessa, the flow of displaced people does not stop

A school in Odessa has been transformed into an aid center to accommodate displaced people. © Boris Vichith, RFI

Report in a school in the city center transformed into an aid centre, with our special correspondents in Odessa, Anastasia Becchio and Boris Vichith.

04:00: A new evacuation operation of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol scheduled today if the situation […] permits. »

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said yesterday that a new evacuation operation is scheduled today, ” if the security situation permits. Nothing says that the conditions will be met after the announcement yesterday by the Russian forces of their attack, launched after weeks of intense bombardments.

A convoy of 156 people exfiltrated from the Azovstal factory arrived yesterday in the Ukrainian city of Zaporijjia, 230 kilometers northwest of Mariupol, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Andrej Slavucki is medical coordinator at MSF and he hosted some of the refugees.

Their journey was quite complicated, we received 50 people in 4 buses, the others who were in serious condition were taken to the hospital and that is why in this reception center we did not see people extremely injured, but still among them there were children, women, old people, exhausted people. We have tried to organize their care in the most efficient way. The Ukrainian authorities are asking for their will, what are they going to do, several expressed their wish to go to the west of Ukraine, the others wanted to return to kyiv for example, there are quite a few people who wanted to stay anyway in Zaporijjia or Dnipro, and we are going to follow them with psychological and medical help.

Alej Slavuski, MSF

03:00: Ukrainian cities targeted by missile fire

Missile fire notably destroyed three power plants in Lviv last night, according to the mayor of this large city in the west of the country, partially deprived of electricity.

02:59: The EU submitted to member countries a draft embargo on Russian oil

A draft embargo on oil and petroleum products purchased from Russia was submitted overnight to EU member countries, but the measure still raises reservations, several European officials and diplomats told AFP.