UN seeks to broker civilian evacuation from ruins of Mariupol as Russia pursues offensive in Kharkiv

UN seeks to broker civilian evacuation from ruins of Mariupol as Russia pursues offensive in Kharkiv


20 civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks, where the last Ukrainian troops are holed up in the Black Sea port of Mariupol. Earlier, a Russian missile strike had hit Odesa airport, rendering its runway unusable. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest. All times are in Paris time [GMT+2]. 

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2). 

09:50pm: UK PM told Zelenskiy he is more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday that he was more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine, a spokesperson for Johnson’s office said following a call between the pair.

“He confirmed that the UK will continue to provide additional military aid to give the Ukrainians the equipment they needed to defend themselves,” the spokesperson said, adding that Johnson also offered Britain’s continued economic and humanitarian support.

I keep in touch with @BorisJohnson. Spoke about the situation on the battlefield and in the blocked Mariupol. Discussed defensive support for Ukraine and the necessary diplomatic efforts to achieve peace.

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 30, 2022

08:50pm: 20 civilians have been evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal site

20 civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks, where the last Ukrainian troops are holed up in the Black Sea port of Mariupol, the soldiers there said Saturday.

“Twenty civilians, women and children … have been transferred to a suitable place and we hope that they will be evacuated to Zaporizhzhia, on territory controlled by Ukraine,” said Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov regiment.

06:57pm: Ukraine says Russian air forces continuing to launch airstrikes on Mariupol

Ukraine’s military said on Saturday that Russian planes are continuing to strike the besieged city of Mariupol, focusing on the Azovstal steelworks where troops and civilians are sheltering.

The general staff of the armed forces posted on Facebook that the Ukrainian military had regained control over four settlements in the Kharkiv region.

06:20pm: Russian missile strike hits Odesa airport

A Russian missile strike on Odesa airport has damaged the runway, rendering it unusable, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday.

FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports from Odesa.

05:41pm: Ukraine carries out prisoner exchange with Russia

Ukraine carried out a prisoner exchange with Russia on Saturday, with seven soldiers and seven civilians coming home, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk posted online. She did not say how many Russians had been transferred.

The two nations have swapped prisoners several times during the conflict. Ukraine said Russia had handed over 33 soldiers on Thursday.

03:49pm: Russia has so far failed to capture eastern Donbas region, Ukraine says

Russia pounded Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on Saturday but failed to seize three target areas, the Ukrainian military said. Russian forces tried to capture the areas of Lyman in Donetsk and Sievierodonetsk and Popasna in Luhansk, but were unsuccessful, according to the Ukrainian headquarters’ daily briefing.

Meanwhile, Moscow said that Western sanctions on Russia and arms shipments to Ukraine were impeding peace negotiations. 

FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports from Odesa.

02:27pm: France says it will ‘intensify’ military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron said that France will “intensify” its military and humanitarian support to Ukraine following a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday.

The French presidency said that aid to Ukraine amounted to “more than 615 tonnes of equipment, including medical equipment, generators for hospitals, food aid, shelter aid and emergency vehicles”.

Zelensky thanked France for sending “large-scale military shipments that contribute to the Ukrainian resistance”.

Newly re-elected Macron reiterated his “strong concern” over Russia’s bombing of Ukrainian cities and the “unbearable situation” in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

Macron said he wanted to “work actively during his second term to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, always maintaining close coordination with its European partners and allies”.

02:10pm: Mariupol mayor makes emotional plea calling on international community to help evacuate city

Russian shelling continues in the beseiged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where local officials warned of a dire situation unfolding in the Azovstal steel plant. The city’s mayor held an emotional press conference Saturday calling on the international community to help evacuate Mariupol, saying that there were 600 wounded Ukrainian fighters and civilians holed up in the plant. FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports from Kyiv.

11:27am: Ukraine says Russia has stolen ‘several hundred thousand tonnes’ of grain

Russian forces have stolen “several hundred thousand tonnes” of grain in the areas of Ukraine they occupy, Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister said on Saturday.

Speaking to Ukrainian national TV, Taras Vysotskiy expressed concern that most of what he said was 1.5 million tonnes of grain stored in occupied territory could also be stolen by Russian forces as well.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry accused Russia on Thursday of stealing grain in territory it has occupied, an act it said increased the threat to global food security.

11:24am: Russia’s defence ministry says its armed forces hit 389 military facilities in Ukraine overnight

Russia said on Saturday that its artillery units had struck 389 Ukrainian targets overnight, including 35 control points, 15 arms and ammunition depots, and several areas where Ukrainian troops and equipment were concentrated.

Russia’s defence ministry said that its missiles had hit four ammunition and fuel depots. 

11:00am: Ukrainian villagers in Ruska Lozova freed from Russian occupation

After two months of “terrible fear”, several hundred people evacuated the village of Ruska Lozova, north of Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, after it was freed by the Ukrainian army. 

The Ukrainian army regards Ruska Lozova as a place of “strategic importance” and says the Russians were targeting civilian infrastructure and homes in Kharkiv. 

6:53am: Kharkiv shelled as Russia maintains its offensive

Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv was hit by multiple Russian shellings Saturday, though President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian forces are making “tactical successes” in the region.

One person was killed and five were injured “as a result of enemy artillery and mortar strikes”, the Kharkiv’s regional military administration said on Telegram.

6:40am: UN works to broker civilian evacuation from Mariupol

The United Nations doggedly sought to broker an evacuation of civilians from the increasingly hellish ruins of Mariupol on Friday, while Ukraine accused Russia of showing its contempt for the world organization by bombing Kyiv when the U.N. leader was visiting the capital.

The mayor of Mariupol said the situation inside the steel plant that has become the southern port city’s last stronghold is dire, and citizens are “begging to get saved.”

6:30am: Russia makes last-minute bond payment to avoid default

Russia staved off a default on its debt Friday by making a last-minute payment using its precious dollar reserves sitting outside the country, US Treasury officials said. The amount of the payment was not disclosed, but earlier this month Russia’s finance ministry said it tried to make a $649 million payment due April 6 toward two bonds to an unnamed US bank — previously reported as JPMorgan Chase.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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