Day 70 of Putin's war. More evacuations from Mariupol, EU to give up Russian oil and cut Russia’s Sberbank from SWIFT

4 May, 10:35 AM
Lyubov Lenko, 61, a resident of the village of Buda, Chernihiv Oblast, walks near her destroyed house. (Photo:REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Lyubov Lenko, 61, a resident of the village of Buda, Chernihiv Oblast, walks near her destroyed house. (Photo:REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Today, May 4, is the 70th day of Ukraine's defense against a full-scale Russian invasion. Russians continue to destroy Ukrainian cities and towns they claim they want to liberate.

1905: Several EU countries are preventing agreement being reached on the toughest package of EU sanctions against Russia, according to news agency Reuters, citing sources.

Several eastern EU countries are concerned that the six-month oil embargo will not give them enough time to adapt. According to the agency, during a meeting of EU ambassadors on May 4, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic expressed concern over the proposed embargo.

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One diplomat told Reuters that Greece was also concerned about the impact on its shipping sector. At the same time, the Reuters source said that agreement might be reached on May 5 or later in the week.

1840: The “Kamikaze drones” (Switchblade loitering munitions) that Ukraine receives from the United States could become a new symbol of the Ukrainian resistance movement in the temporarily occupied territories and save the lives of civilians, military expert Serhiy Hrabsky told Radio NV.

1743: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a visit to Bucharest, Romania, said he would like to express his support for Ukraine, including through a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, "if possible." Steinmeier also said that "Germans wholeheartedly support Ukraine."

1718: The Bulgarian Parliament has voted in favor of a package of support for Ukraine, including military-technical aid. Among the approved measures are:

·        continued support for Ukraine's membership of the EU;

·        assistance to Ukrainian refugees until they can return home;

·        organization of Ukrainian grain exports via the Bulgarian port of Varna;

·        strengthening energy cooperation;

·        repairing Ukrainian military equipment at Bulgarian military enterprises;

·        continued supply of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including medicines, clothing and food.

1713: Russian troops are trying to increase the pace of their offensive in the Donbas, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reports.

"The command of the Russian troops is trying to increase the pace of the offensive operation in eastern Ukraine to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as to develop an offensive in some other areas: Zaporizhzhya and Kryvyi Rih," said Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk.

1711: U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien, in an exclusive interview with NV, says Vladimir Putin has chosen the path of the world's worst dictators and will be condemned by history. "I believe that Ukraine will win," Kvien says, adding that U.S. sanctions on Putin won’t be lifted. Kvien spoke to NV ahead of the expected appointment of Bridget Brink as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine – the first full ambassador to the country in two years.

1707: Heavy fighting is continuing on the territory of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, the mayor of the city Vadym Boychenko said on Ukrainian national television.

"Today, heavy fighting is taking place on the territory of our fortress – Azovstal,” Boychenko said. “Our brave guys are defending this fortress, but it is very difficult, because they are working on this fortress with heavy artillery, working with tanks and aircraft, (and) ships have approached and are also attacking this fortress.”

1529: More shallow graves with the bodies of murdered civilians have been found near Bucha, a town near Kyiv that was under Russian occupation for around a month. According to the press service of the regional police, in the village of Shibine, Bucha district, police exhumed the bodies of two people, including a 10-year-old girl who died from shrapnel wounds as a result of an enemy shell. The body of a 58-year-old man was also found, who was shot dead by the occupiers near his house.

1449: Invading Russian soldiers have broken through defenses at the Azovstal steel mill, the last stronghold of the Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol, and there is heavy fighting going on there, according to media reports. Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda reports that this is the second day of the Russian attempt at storming of Azovstal, and contact with the Ukrainian defenders there has been lost.

1411: Evacuations from Tokmak and Vasylivka are planned for May 4, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk announced.

The locations and times for the evacuations are:

in Tokmak - at 1500 on the way out of the city (former cafe Nirvana);

in Vasylivka - at 1600 at the Tarilka checkpoint.

1409: The Kremlin has denied rumors that on May 9 Russia will officially declare war on Ukraine and announce a full mobilization. "It’s not true. This is nonsense, "said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

1321: Invading Russian troops attacked Kharkiv twice on May 3, with multiple rocket launchers systems and artillery, the head of the Kharkiv Civil-Military Administration Oleh Synehubov said.

According to him, the Russian military also fired on settlements in Kharkiv Oblast: Rossiyskaya Lozova, Dergachi, Zolochiv, Bohodukhiv, Chuguiv and Barvinkove. In the Donetsk community, one person was killed and eight were injured in an attack by the occupiers, he said.

1243: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he would not agree to there being a frozen conflict in Ukraine.

"A ceasefire does not mean a ceasefire and Russian troops staying where they are now – that’s a frozen conflict, (and) we will not get into a frozen conflict," the president said during a video address to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit.

Zelensky also said the Minsk agreements now only existed on paper.

"We are not leaving Minsk now – the Russian leader left it on Feb. 24 and said it publicly, and they launched a 'military operation', although we understand that this is a war, a full-scale invasion,” Zelensky said. “Ukraine will not go into such a diplomatic swamp (again) for sure.”

1236: Another mass grave of civilians has been found in Kyiv Oblast. On April 29, a shallow grave with three people (men) with signs of torture on their bodies was found in the woods near the village of Myrotske, Bucha district. The victims had been tortured for a long period of time, and bullet wounds were found on their limbs.

On May 2, a shallow grave containing the bodies of two people with traces of torture was discovered in the village of Kalynivka, in the Makarivska amalgamated community in Bucha district. According to preliminary investigative findings, the occupiers first tortured and then killed the two civilians.

1226: Russian occupiers are preparing to hold a "parade" in Mariupol, with the leaders of the proxy authorities in the Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts arriving in the destroyed city to prepare the event, Ukrainian intelligence says.

"The main task of Putin’s officials is to prepare for the ‘ceremonial events’ on May 9," the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate said.

1158: Authorities in Zakarpattia Oblast said they believe that a missile strike near the railway station in Volovets was an attempt to paralyze the area’s transport infrastructure.

1136: The Kremlin has abandoned the term "denazification" in its communications, Russian media say. According to the publication Project, polls have shown that residents of the aggressor country do not understand this term, and even find it difficult to pronounce.

1114: A new stage of evacuation from Mariupol has begun Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration reported.

"With the support of the United Nations and the Red Cross, we are evacuating civilians from the Azov (coast) region to Zaporizhzhya today,” the Donetsk governor said. “The buses have already left Mariupol, later there will be stops for passengers in Zaporizhzhya region."

1110: The European Union plans to impose sanctions against Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, French news agency AFP reported. The sanctions are being imposed because of the Russian church’s support for Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, AFP said, referring to EU documents. However, the news agency did not provide other details about the nature of the sanctions.

1035: The European Union confirmed that it will impose an embargo on Russian oil and disconnect Sberbank from SWIFT.

"Finally, we are now proposing an embargo on Russian oil,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. "Second, we’re disconnecting Sberbank – by far the largest bank in Russia – from SWIFT."

1012: An oil depot is burning in the Russian-occupied town of Makeyevka, according to reports on social media. The depot is probably the one near the settlement of Novorobochye in the occupied part of Donetsk Obalast. Reports on social networks said that the fire was preceded by a strong explosion. Four large-capacity tanks holding 5,000 tons of oil each are thought to be on fire.

1008: As of the morning of May 4, reconstruction work is underway on the railway due to damage to infrastructure from yesterday's missile strikes by the Russian Federation, Ukrainian state railway company Ukrzaliznytsia reported. The company also published a list of delayed trains.

0947: Invading Russian forces plan to capture Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, the UK Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence assessment on Ukraine. The ministry said that despite the difficulties it is having in breaking through Ukrainian defenses, Russia most likely intends to go beyond the city of Izyum in Kharkiv Oblast to capture Kramatorsk in Donetsk Oblast and Severodonetsk in Luhansk Oblast.

"The capture of these cities will strengthen Russian military control over the northeastern Donbas and become a springboard for efforts to encircle Ukrainian forces in the region," the statement said.

0920: Total combat losses of Russia in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces

·        Personnel – about 24500 (+300)

·        Tanks – 1,077 (+15)

·        Armored combat vehicles – 2,610 (+43) units

·        Artillery systems – 491 (+16) units

·        Multiple rocket launcher systems (MRLS) – 163 (+1)

·        Air defense systems – 81 (+1)

·        Warplanes – 194 (+0)

·        Helicopters – 155 (+0)

·        Motor vehicles and tanker trucks – 1,867 (+24)

·        Ships / boats – 10 (+0)

·        Drones (UAVs) of operational and tactical level – 303 (+12)

·        Special machinery – 38 (+0)

·        Cruise missiles – 87 (+3)

0840: More than 627 children have been injured in Ukraine as a result of the armed aggression by the Russian Federation. Of these, 220 children were killed and more than 407 were injured (the figures are not final), according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General's Office.

0805: Explosions heard in Zaporizhzhya overnight were sounds of Ukrainian air defenses, the press service of Zaporizhzhya Oblast Administration said.

"At about 2340 on May 3, Zaporizhzhyans heard sounds similar to explosions,” the press service said. “We want to reassure them that this was the Ukrainian air defense systems in operation. The safety of the city's residents is not endangered.”

0750: In the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts over the last day the Ukrainian armed forces repulsed 12 enemy attacks, the General Staff said in its morning update. Six tanks, five artillery systems (three of them multiple rocket launchers), 15 armored combat vehicles and nine enemy motor vehicles were destroyed, the General Staff reported.

0716: Invading Russian forces are attempting to storm Ukrainian positions in the east, with enemy forces shelling Ukrainian positions in Donetsk Oblast and in the south, Ukraine’s General Staff said in an update.

In the area of Lyman, the enemy is advancing towards the village of Shandryholove, where fighting continues. The enemy has strengthened its troop numbers and intensified air reconnaissance. The enemy also carried out assaults in the area of ​​Popasna, in Luhansk Oblast, where fighting continues as well, the General Staff said.

In Mariupol, the Russians continue to launch air strikes and shell Ukrainian positions near the Azovstal steel mill.

In the area of Zaporizhzhya, the enemy carried out assault operations in the area of the settlement of Orikhovo, but without success.

0539: The European Union is to give up importing Russian oil for six months, U.S. newspaper the Wall Street Journal reported.

The measure is included in the sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia. Imports of oil products will be stopped by the end of the year. An exception will be made for Slovakia and Hungary, which are heavily dependent on Russian oil products. The two countries will be given 20 months to give up imports of Russian oil.

The next package of sanctions will also include the disconnection of Russia’s Sberbank from the SWIFT international banking transaction system. However, sanctions will not be imposed on Gazprombank.

0352: Pope Francis, in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, said that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, spent about 20 minutes "reading from cards in his hands," talking about why it is necessary to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"For the first 20 minutes, he read me the justification for the war with papers in his hands. I listened and told him: I do not understand anything in this. Brother, we are not clergymen of the state, we cannot use the language of politics, but we must use the language of Jesus," Francis said.

The pontiff said that in a conversation with Kirill he said that "the patriarch should not turn into Putin's altar boy."

0304: Invading Russian troops have been making fake Ukrainian uniforms in Zaporizhzhya, possibly ahead of “false flag” operations, the Ukrainian command in the south of the country has said.

"Yesterday in the city of Tokmak, in Zaporizhia, the occupiers began the mass production of Ukrainian army uniforms and have disguised their servicemen in them," the press service of the South Operational Command said.

0233: U.S. President Joe Biden said he has done everything possible to ensure the flow of arms to Ukraine continues.

"Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began more than two months ago, we have sent more than U.S. $3 billion in security aid to Ukraine,” Biden said. “That’s just us, not counting our allies. This money is a direct investment in the defense of freedom and democracy. Because if we do not oppose the dictators, history has shown us that they keep coming back. Their appetite for power continues to grow.”

Biden said "the struggle (for victory) will not be cheap," but a victory of the dictatorship would cost the world even more.

0114: The Ukrainian armed forces destroy 16 enemy air targets on on May 3, the country’s Air Force Command said.

"According to preliminary data, at least eight cruise missiles were shot down by the air defenses of the Air Force and the Land Forces on May 3 – the data are being verified,” the command said. “There are also reports of the destruction of seven drones and one aircraft missile."

The Ukrainian military said that the Russians are keeping their warplanes and helicopters out of airspace controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces so as to lose them to air defenses.

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