Live: Kyiv says it sank a Russian landing craft in the Black Sea

Ukraine’s defence ministry said Saturday a drone strike had sunk a Serna-class landing craft near the Russian-occupied Black Sea outpost of “Snake Island”, where Ukrainian forces famously rebuffed Russian demands to surrender at the beginning of the war. Russia’s defence ministry said it had destroyed a large stockpile of Western military equipment near the Bohodukhiv railway station in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. Follow FRANCE 24’s live updates. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

6:16pm: All women, children and elderly evacuated from Azovstal says Ukraine’s Deputy PM

All women, children and elderly people have been evacuated from  the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southern port of Mariupol, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said on Saturday. “This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation is over,” Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging service.

Ukraine announced on Friday an evacuation plan from Azovstal and other parts of Mariupol for Saturday. Earlier, Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk region said that 50 civilians had been evacuated from the steel plant on Saturday. Reuters had not seen any evidence of their arrival at a nearby separatist-controlled reception point as of 1600 GMT.

3:50pm: Donbas residents concerned about pace of Russian bombardments as Moscow seeks push into region

Residents of Ukraine’s Donbas region are worried about an increased pace of Russian bombardments as Moscow seeks to trap Ukrainian troops near the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports.

3:46pm: Jill Biden hails ‘amazingly strong’ Ukraine refugees in Romania

US first lady Jill Biden hailed the “amazingly strong” refugees from war-torn Ukraine as she visited neighbouring Romania on Saturday. “You are amazingly strong,” Biden said after listening to mothers and children recount how they fled Russia’s invasion of their country.

“We stand with you, I hope you know that,” she said in a visit to a school in Bucharest, accompanied by her Romanian counterpart Carmen Iohannis, according to images transmitted by TVR public television. 

More than 810,000 Ukrainians have entered Romania since the start of the war, according to UN figures released on April 29. Most have moved on to other countries, with an estimated 80,000 staying, half of them children, according to the World Vision foundation.

3:28pm: Senior Russian lawmaker says US directly involved in Ukraine fighting

Russia’s most senior lawmaker on Saturday accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine, which he said amounted to direct US involvement in military action against Russia.

“Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

2:46pm: Ukraine says it sank a Russian landing craft near Snake Island in Black Sea

Ukraine’s defence ministry said in a statement an armed drone had destroyed a Serna-class landing craft and a missile defence system near the Black Sea’s Snake Island, where Ukrainian forces famously rebuffed Russian demands to surrender at the beginning of the war.

The ministry released grainy overhead footage on social media showing in black and white what appeared to be an explosion over a light craft with debris spilling outwards.

The military said in a separate statement on social media that the Bayraktar drone strike had also destroyed a Tor-M2 anti-aircraft system being delivered to the island. There was no immediate confirmation of the strike from the Russian defence ministry. 

The Snake Island outpost became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange went viral at the start of the war, in which Ukrainian soldiers used an expletive in rebuffing a demand by the Russian warship Moskva to surrender.

The Moskva sank in the Black Sea in mid-April following what Moscow said was an explosion on board. Ukraine and the US said the warship was hit with missiles.

2:14pm: Shelling destroys museum dedicated to 18th-century poet in Kharkiv region

Russian shelling hit a museum dedicated to the philosopher and poet Hryhoriy Skovoroda in the Ukrainian village of Skovorodynivka, causing a fire that destroyed the building, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said on Saturday.

The overnight shelling hit the roof of the Hryhoriy Skovoroda Literary Memorial Museum, injuring a 35-year-old custodian, but the most valuable items had been moved earlier to a safer place, Sinegubov said in a post on social media.

“The premises were practically all destroyed,” he said.

Skovoroda, a famous 18th-century philosopher and poet of Ukraine Cossack origin, spent the last years of his life on an estate of the local landowners in the village of Ivanovka, which was later renamed in his honour.

“This year marks the 300th anniversary of the great philosopher’s birth,” Sinegubov said. “The occupiers can destroy the museum where Hryhoriy Skovoroda worked for the last years of his life and where he was buried. But they will not destroy our memory and our values.”

2:12pm: Two Russian missiles hit border villages in northern Ukraine says governor

Air-launched Russian missiles hit two locations near the Russian border in Ukraine’s northern Sumy region on Saturday, local governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi said.

A border guard was wounded by the strikes on the Myropilske and Khotin municipalities, Zhyvytskyi wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

2:02pm: Missiles hit Ukraine’s Odesa, regional government says

Several missiles hit the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Saturday, the regional administration’s spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said in televised remarks.

Bratchuk said the strikes hit the city after targets in the surrounding Odesa region had been hit by four missiles earlier in the day.

He did not give further detail about the new strikes, saying that the facts were still being established.

Reuters was not able to immediately confirm details of the report.

1:25pm: Pro-Russia forces say 50 more people evacuated from Mariupol plant

Pro-Russia forces said 50 more people were evacuated on Saturday from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where scores of civilians have been trapped for weeks alongside Ukrainian fighters holed up in the Soviet-era plant.

The territorial defence headquarters of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said on Telegram that a total of 176 civilians had now been evacuated from the steelworks. Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

About 50 civilians had been moved on Friday from the sprawling plant to a reception centre in nearby Bezimenne in the separatist republic, whose forces are fighting alongside Russian troops to expand their control of large parts of eastern Ukraine.

Dozens of civilians were also evacuated last weekend

12:39pm: Jill Biden praises Romanian government, relief groups in Bucharest visit

US first lady Jill Biden on Saturday praised the Romanian government and relief organisations for humanitarian aid they are providing to Ukrainians who are fleeing the Russian invasion.

“It’s amazing. It’s solidarity here in Romania that you’re all working together,” Biden said. “I think this is really, unfortunately, just the beginning. Just the beginning.”

Biden delivered her sober assessment at the conclusion of a nearly hourlong briefing at the US embassy in Bucharest on the relief effort.

Biden was told that Romania had “welcomed” nearly 900,000 refugees from Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24, but most have moved on to other countries.

11:42am: Ukrainian soldiers hunt for landmines Russian forces left behind

Ukrainian army soldiers need to meticulously check thousands of hectares of land while hunting for landmines left by retreating Russian forces. It isn’t long before they find something concealed in the grass. “It’s a mortar shell, 82 millimetres long,” says Mykhailo Konopelniuk, a de-mining supervisor for the Ukrainian defence ministry. “Using bombs like this, the Russians destroyed the bridge.”

FRANCE 24’s Nadia Massih reports:

11:04am: Moldova separatists report drone strikes near Ukraine border

Pro-Russia separatists in Moldova said on Saturday their region had been hit four times by suspected drones overnight near the Ukrainian border.

Nearly two weeks of similar reported incidents in the breakaway region of Transnistria have raised international alarm that Russia’s war in Ukraine could spread over the frontier.

Transnistria’s interior ministry released photos of craters that it said had been gouged by the strikes overnight.

Ukraine has repeatedly denied any blame for the incidents in Transnistria, saying it believes Russia is staging false-flag attacks to provoke war. Moscow, too, has denied blame.

10:05am: Russia holds final rehearsal for WWII Victory Day

Russia on Saturday held its final rehearsal in Moscow for an annual parade marking the Soviet victory in World War II, where its military might will be showcased amid its invasion of Ukraine.

To mark the 77th anniversary since victory in what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War, thousands of soldiers will march across Red Square in Moscow followed by tanks, armoured vehicles and missile launchers.

Monday’s Victory Day parade comes during the third month of what Russia’s war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

9:49am: Russia says it has destroyed US, European equipment in Kharkiv region

Russia’s defence ministry on Saturday said it had destroyed a large stockpile of military equipment from the United States and European countries near the Bohodukhiv railway station in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.

The ministry said it had hit 18 Ukrainian military facilities overnight, including three ammunition depots in Dachne, near the port city of Odesa.

8:19am: Ukrainians ‘trying to stage counteroffensives’ in Kherson region

“Russia controls Kherson city and most of Kherson region; where I’ve been is the northern part of Kherson region which is the one part of the region that is still controlled by Ukrainian forces,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports. “Ukrainian forces won back some of the territory in the northern part of Kherson region and the Ukrainians are now trying to stage counteroffensives and take more of that region back from the Russians.”

8:01am: Ukraine conflict taking heavy toll on Russia’s most capable units, UK says

The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities, the British ministry of defence tweeted in a regular bulletin on Saturday.

At least one T-90M, Russia’s most advanced tank, has been destroyed in the fighting, the ministry said. Approximately 100 T-90M tanks are in service among Russia’s best-equipped units, including those fighting in Ukraine, it said.

6:10am: Dozens more civilians rescued from Ukrainian steel plant

Dozens more civilians were rescued Friday from the tunnels under the besieged steel mill where Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol have been making their last stand to prevent Moscow’s complete takeover of the strategically important port city.

Russian and Ukrainian officials said 50 people were evacuated from the Azovstal plant and handed over to representatives of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Russian military said the group included 11 children.

Russian officials and Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said evacuation efforts would continue Saturday. The latest evacuees were in addition to roughly 500 other civilians who got out of the plant and city in recent days.

4:50am: Diplomatic efforts seek to save Ukraine fighters in Mariupol, Zelensky says

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said diplomatic efforts were under way to save the remaining fighters holed up inside the Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol, as more civilians were evacuated from the bombed-out plant.

The defenders have vowed not to surrender. Ukrainian officials fear Russian forces want to wipe them out by Monday in time for Moscow’s commemorations of the former USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

3:48am: Biden, Trudeau discuss security assistance to Ukraine, White House says

US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a phone call on Friday, underscored their commitment to holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine and discussed efforts to provide security assistance to Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

1:23am: UK donates additional 287 mobile generators to Ukraine

The UK government said on Saturday it would give Ukraine 287 mobile generators in addition to 569 generators it has donated earlier.

The new generators, which are enough to power nearly 8,000 homes, will be used for hospitals, shelters and other essential services in the face of ongoing destruction in eastern Ukraine, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said in a statement.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

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