EU chief calls for Russian oil ban over war in Ukraine

  • EU countries will stop importing Russian oil and refined products, the bloc’s leader said, in a sixth round of sanctions against Moscow.
  • Russian attacks killed 21 civilians and wounded 27 others in eastern Ukraine, the governor of Donetsk says.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says 156 civilian evacuees from Mariupol have reached the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia.
  • Another convoy of buses left Mariupol Wednesday morning as evacuation attempts resumed.
  • The EU has unveiled its plan to phase out Russian oil imports in a sixth package of sanctions.
  • The mayor of Lviv says air raids have injured two people and damaged power and water stations, affecting utilities across the city.

[Al Jazeera]

Here are all the latest updates: 56 mins ago (06:57 GMT)

EU unveils plan to ban oil imports in new Russia sanctions

The European Union’s leader has called on the 27-nation bloc to ban oil imports from Russia in a sixth package of sanctions against Moscow, calling on the EU’s members to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also proposed that Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks be disconnected from the SWIFT international banking payment system.

The proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and are likely to be the subject of fierce debate. Von der Leyen conceded that getting all 27 member countries – some landlocked and highly dependent on Russia for energy supplies – to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy”.

Today we are presenting the sixth package of sanctions. First, we are listing high-ranking military officers and other individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha.

We know who you are.
And you will be held accountable. — Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 4, 2022

1 hour ago (06:38 GMT)

More buses of evacuees leave Mariupol

A convoy of buses left Mariupol on Wednesday morning in a new attempt by Ukraine, the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate civilians from the southern Ukrainian city, the governor of Donetsk has said. The buses were heading for the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

He did not say whether any more civilians had been evacuated from the steelworks in Mariupol where the city’s last defenders are holding out against Russian forces.
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2 hours ago (06:17 GMT)

Moscow politician: NATO was prepping Ukraine to attack Russia in January

The speaker of Russia’s parliament has said NATO was arming Ukraine to attack Russia in January and Putin’s decision to start a “special military operation” prevented “a huge tragedy”. “NATO was preparing Ukraine for an attack on our country.

How else to explain that all decisions on the supply of weapons to Ukraine were made by the US Parliament in January. Even before the start of the special military operation,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel. He also said that Ukraine’s citizens were only “expendable material” for Washington and nationalism had become “the state ideology of Kyiv”, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

2 hours ago (05:55 GMT)

Road accident death toll climbs to 26

Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has confirmed that 26 people died in a highway accident in the Rivne region.

“In total, 26 people died in the accident: 24 passengers and two drivers (of a minibus and a bus); 12 people were injured; 11 were bus passengers and a fuel tanker driver; all passengers were aged 17 to 69. The youngest was supposed to turn 18 on May 12,” the ministry wrote on Telegram. In his nighttime address last night, Zelenskyy said a bus, a car and a fuel truck had collided.

The ministry said the bus was heading to Poland and carrying 34 passengers.

EU chief calls for Russian oil ban over war in UkraineFirefighters spray water onto a vehicle after a fuel truck collided with a bus on the Kyiv-Chop highway in Sitne, Rivne region in this image taken from a handout video released May 3 [State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS]

3 hours ago (05:18 GMT)

Shelling kills two people in Luhansk: Governor

Russian shelling has killed two people and injured another two in Luhansk, ” a woman from Lysychansk and a man from Popasna”, the region’s governor has said. “Two women from Lysychansk were injured,” Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram, adding that 45 houses and other objects were damaged. He also said that the building of the Luhansk Medical Centre for Dangerous Infectious Diseases in Lysychansk, as well as one of the city’s schools, was engulfed in flames.

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3 hours ago (04:50 GMT)

Russia ‘likely’ intends to take Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk: UK

Russia “highly likely intends” to proceed beyond the city of Izyum to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, the UK defence ministry says. In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Izyum “in its attempt to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas”. Capturing Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk “would consolidate Russian military control in north-eastern Donbas and provide a staging point for its efforts to cut-off Ukrainian forces in the region”, the ministry added.

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 04 May 2022

Find out more about the UK government’s response: ?? #StandWithUkraine ?? — Ministry of Defence ?? (@DefenceHQ) May 4, 2022

3 hours ago (04:37 GMT)

Belarus army starts drills

The armed forces of Belarus began surprise drills on Wednesday to test their combat readiness, Russia’s TASS news agency cited the defence ministry of Ukraine’s neighbour as saying.

Against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ministry said the exercise posed no threat to its neighbours or the European community in general.

4 hours ago (03:53 GMT)

Taiwan gives £150,000 to Ukrainian refugee children in Slovakia

Taiwan has donated £150,000 in aid for Ukrainian refugee children in Slovakia. The funds will be used to help set up a kindergarten for children who fled Ukraine to neighbouring Slovakia, which has now taken nearly 400,000 of the country’s refugees. Taiwan’s representative to Slovakia, Lee Nan-yang, also asked non-governmental organisation Ukrainian-Slovak Initiative, which will be receiving the money, to transfer £60,000 to the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Taiwan to donate US£150,000 for Ukrainian refugee children!
The funds will be used to help set up a kindergarten for children who have fled Ukraine to neighboring Slovakia.

— Taiwan in the US (@TECRO_USA) May 4, 2022

4 hours ago (03:43 GMT)

Australia sanctions 110 Russian politicians and ‘puppet’ officials

Australia has moved to further sanction more than 70 Russian politicians and more than 30 “puppet” Ukrainian government officials installed in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Foreign minister Marise Payne said the sanctions and travel bans on the 110 individuals are in response to the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty “through their assertion of governmental authority”. Some of the sanctioned Russian parliamentarians voted in favour of the resolution calling for Putin to recognise the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, while the majority subsequently voted in favour of ratifying treaties with the regions.

Australia has now sanctioned 812 individuals and 47 entities.

Additional sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: — Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) May 4, 2022

5 hours ago (02:49 GMT)

Russia says it attacked 39 military facilities in Ukraine

Russia’s air force attacked 39 military facilities in Ukraine on Tuesday, state news agency TASS reports, citing a representative from Russia’s defence ministry. “Among them: two command posts and 36 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Major General Igor Konashenkov told TASS.

Konashenkov also said four radar stations for detecting air targets, six ammunition and weapons depots, and a US-made radar station were destroyed in the areas of Lyman, Kramatorsk and Kamyshevakha.

5 hours ago (02:27 GMT)

Blinken and Truss in phone call on Ukraine

Antony Blinken has spoken in a phone call with his UK counterpart Liz Truss about the situation in Ukraine. A statement from the US state department said the two discussed additional security and humanitarian assistance. “They also discussed economic consequences for those who continue to provide financial or material support that aids the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine,” it added.

Spoke with @trussliz today to reaffirm support for the people of Ukraine, who bravely defend against the Kremlin’s brutal war.

Our coordinated assistance to Ukraine continues, and we will hold accountable those who continue to enable Putin’s efforts. — Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 4, 2022

6 hours ago (02:22 GMT)

Ukrainian refugees wait in Mexico camp to enter US

About 500 Ukrainian refugees are camping out in Mexico City and waiting for the US government to allow them into the country, the Associated Press reports. The evacuees were waiting on Tuesday in large tents on a field on the east side of Mexico’s sprawling capital.

The camp has been open only a week and around 50 to 100 people are arriving every day. Some refugees have already been to the US border in Tijuana where they were told they would no longer be admitted. Others arrived at airports in Mexico City or Cancun.

The US government announced in late March that it would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Hundreds entered Mexico daily as tourists and flew to Tijuana to wait to be admitted to the US on humanitarian parole.

EU chief calls for Russian oil ban over war in UkraineA Ukrainian refugee walks with her child at a camp in Utopia Park in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, on Monday, May 2, 2022 [Marco Ugarte/AP]

6 hours ago (01:32 GMT)

Ukraine war worsened the Americas’ pandemic problems: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the war in Ukraine worsened problems in the Western Hemisphere caused by the coronavirus pandemic, such as rising poverty. Blinken told the annual Conference on the Americas luncheon on Tuesday that the effects of the war are being felt after the pandemic inflicted “massive economic harm throughout the region”.

“[M]any of these preexisting problems … have been made worse, raising the price of essential commodities throughout the Americas … cutting off key export markets for many industries in the Americas, and forcing households across the region to make very wrenching choices as the cost of living skyrockets,” Blinken said in his keynote address.

It was wonderful to be able to welcome the Council of the Americas, @ASCOA, back to the @StateDept for its annual conference – something we couldn’t do last year on account of the pandemic. Grateful to the Council and the Ambassadors from the region for their important work. — Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 3, 2022

7 hours ago (00:58 GMT)

Evacuations continue from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday

Four evacuation routes have been organised for Wednesday, from Mariupol to the Zaporizhzhia region, the region’s governor, Oleksandr Starukh, has said.

The routes are: Mariupol 8am, Lunacharky Kiltse 1am, Tokmak 3pm and Vasylivka 4pm.

7 hours ago (00:37 GMT)

Russians readying for administrative occupation of Mariupol: Think-tank

The Russian military occupation in Mariupol is setting conditions for its administrative occupation, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported. ISW cited a Ukrainian intelligence report that said private enterprises in Russia’s Rostov region had received orders to produce official seals and stamps for public institutions in Mariupol. These reportedly contain the inscription: “Russia, the Republic of Donbas, Mariupol, the military-civilian administration.”

“[The]report is consistent with Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushchenko’s statement that children in the Mangush region near Mariupol are signing their school notebooks with ‘Rostov Oblast’,” the ISW said. But it said these reports indicate confusion on behalf of Russian forces occupying Mariupol. It is unclear whether the city is to be absorbed into the existing administration of the so-called Donetsk people’s republic or to be directly attached to Russia as part of the Rostov oblast.

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8 hours ago (00:16 GMT)

Ukraine likely pushed Russian forces away from Kharkiv: Think-tank

The Ukrainian army conducted a “significant counteroffensive” that likely pushed Russian forces roughly 40 kilometres east of Kharkiv, the ISW says. This would “unhinge the Russian positions northeast of Kharkiv” and “set conditions for a broader operation to drive the Russians from most of their positions around the city,” the ISW said in its latest assessment of the Russian offensive campaign. It added that the Russian army may then face a dilemma of “whether to reinforce their positions near Kharkiv to prevent such a broader Ukrainian operation or to risk losing most or all of their positions in artillery range of the city”.

#Kharkiv Update:

A significant #Ukrainian counteroffensive pushed #Russian forces roughly 40 km east of Kharkiv City. The counteroffensive could set conditions for a broader operation to drive the Russians from most of their positions around the city. — ISW (@TheStudyofWar) May 3, 2022

8 hours ago (23:55 GMT)

Shelling kills one person in Kherson region

Shelling in the Kherson region has killed one person and injured four others, the rural community of Kochubeevsky reported on Facebook.

8 hours ago (23:48 GMT)

Russians ‘trying to vent their powerlessness’: Zelenskyy

The Russian military “has reacted extremely nervously” to Ukraine’s success in getting more than 156 civilian evacuees out of Mariupol by attacking cities across the country, Zelenskyy has said.

“Various Ukrainian cities have once again become targets for Russian missiles and Russian strikes. Lviv, Vinnytsia, Kyiv region, Dnipropetrovsk region, Odesa, Kharkiv region – such a scale of today’s shelling clearly does not indicate that Russia has any special military purpose,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address. “Strike at Zakarpattia?

What exactly can it give Russia? They are trying to vent their powerlessness. Because they can’t beat Ukraine,” he added.

8 hours ago (23:36 GMT)

156 Mariupol civilians arrive in Zaporizhzhia: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says 156 civilian evacuees from Mariupol have arrived in Zaporizhzhia.

“Women and children. They have been in shelters for more than two months. Just imagine!

For example, a child is six months old, two of which are underground, fleeing bombs and shelling. Finally, these people are completely safe,” he said in his nighttime address. He added that he was grateful to those who helped arrange safe passage through the humanitarian corridor, as well as the negotiators of the three-day ceasefire which made it possible.

EU chief calls for Russian oil ban over war in UkrainePeople with children arrive from Mariupol at a centre for displaced people in Zaporizhzhia, on May 3 [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

9 hours ago (22:46 GMT)

EU members seek exemptions from Russian oil embargo

EU officials have handed over a draft plan to member states on a new package of sanctions against Russia, but some members are don’t want an oil embargo.

Several EU officials and European diplomats in Brussels told the AFP news agency that there were divisions over the plan, which needs unanimous approval. Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries will meet on Wednesday to review the plan. The commission’s proposal would phase in a ban on oil imports from Russia over six to eight months, with Hungary and Slovakia allowed to take a few months longer, EU officials told AFP. Other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bulgaria and the Czech Republic could also seek sanctions opt-outs.

9 hours ago (22:33 GMT)

US to highlight war’s effect on food supplies

The US has said it will highlight the effects of the war in Ukraine and other conflicts on the diminishing availability of food and rising prices at two UN events later this month.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a news conference that Blinken will chair a ministerial meeting on food insecurity across the globe on May 18 to review current and future humanitarian needs. Washington holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month. On May 19, Blinken will chair a meeting where its 15 members will consider how to make sure that food insecurity does not “drive new conflicts, instability, particularly in fragile states,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

10 hours ago (21:50 GMT)

Biden urges Congress to ‘quickly’ approve Ukraine funding

Biden has called on the US Congress to “quickly” approve funding for Ukraine aid that the White House had requested.

Last week, the US president asked lawmakers for £33bn in additional spending to support Ukraine, a massive sum that he says will help Ukrainians continue to fight Russia’s invasion. “I urge Congress to pass this funding quickly to help Ukraine defend against ongoing Russian aggression,” Biden wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Last week, I sent Congress a supplemental budget request to make sure we can continue to send Ukraine weapons and continue to provide economic and humanitarian assistance. I urge Congress to pass this funding quickly to help Ukraine defend against ongoing Russian aggression.

— President Biden (@POTUS) May 3, 2022

10 hours ago (21:35 GMT)

At least 17 killed in road accident in western Ukraine

A bus has collided with a fuel truck in western Ukraine, killing at least 17 people, authorities have said. In his daily address to the nation late on Tuesday, Zelenskyy said a “terrible road accident” had taken place in the western Rivne region. “A bus, a car and a fuel truck collided.

As of now, there are already 17 dead, but there may be more victims,” Zelenskyy said, expressing condolences to those who lost loved ones in the accident.

11 hours ago (21:10 GMT)

Russian missiles hit power substations in Lviv: Mayor

Russian air raids have apparently targeted the western Ukraine city of Lviv, with its mayor Andriy Sadovyi saying the attacks injured two people. Speaking in a video message late on Tuesday, he also said the bombing had damaged three power substations and two water pump stations, affecting utilities in the city.

EU chief calls for Russian oil ban over war in UkrainePower substation burns after a missile strike in Lviv, Ukraine May 3, 2022 [Andrii Gorb/REUTERS]

11 hours ago (20:59 GMT)

Baseball signed by Zelenskyy to be sold with portion for Ukraine relief

A baseball autographed by Zelenskyy in 2019 will be sold to help generate aid for Ukraine. The official Rawlings Major League baseball is being sold by Randy Kaplan, a renowned collector of balls signed by world leaders, with a portion of the proceeds going to war relief efforts in Ukraine, auctioneer RR Auction of Boston said Tuesday.

The ball was expected to sell for at least £15,000 but the leading bid as of Tuesday had already exceeded that amount, an RR spokesperson said.

EU chief calls for Russian oil ban over war in UkraineThe baseball is being sold by Randy Kaplan, a renowned collector of balls signed by world leaders [RR Auction via AP]

12 hours ago (20:21 GMT)

Biden says military aid to Ukraine ‘direct investment’ in democracy

Biden has called the US military aid to Ukraine a “direct investment” to protect democracy. “Since Russia invaded Ukraine just over two months ago, we have sent more than £3bn in security assistance to Ukraine – alone us, not counting our allies,” Biden said. “[I]f you don’t stand up to dictators, history has shown us they keep coming … their appetite for power continues to grow.”

Biden added that Ukrainian forces are “making fools of the Russian military in many instances” with the help of US military aid.

12 hours ago (20:19 GMT)

Russian attacks kill 21 in eastern Ukraine, governor says

The governor of Donetsk says Russian attacks have killed 21 civilians and wounded 27 in eastern Ukraine, the highest death toll since a Russian strike on a train station in the city of Kramatorsk killed 59 people about a month ago. “At least 10 killed and 15 wounded, the consequences of the shelling of the Avdiivka coke plant by the Russian occupiers,” Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. Kyrylenko said five others were killed in shelling in the town of Lyman, four were killed in Vugledar, and two people were killed in Velyka Novosilka and Shandrygolove.


12 hours ago (20:17 GMT)

UN chief calls for ‘more humanitarian pauses’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for more humanitarian pauses after a safe passage operation allowed more than 100 civilians to leave a besieged steel plant in the war-torn port city of Mariupol. “I hope the continued coordination with Kyiv and Moscow will lead to more humanitarian pauses that will allow civilians safe passage away from the fighting and aid to reach people where the needs are greatest,” Guterres said in a statement.
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12 hours ago (20:14 GMT)

US helping make the war a ‘strategic failure’ for Russia: Biden

Military support to Ukraine by the US and its allies is helping make the invasion a “strategic failure” for Russia, Biden has said.

Speaking at a Lockheed Martin factory in Alabama that produces anti-tank Javelin missiles, which have been a crucial asset for Ukrainian forces, Biden credited the workers at the plant for helping Ukraine resist the Russian invasion. “A big part of the reason they [Ukrainians] have been able to keep up fighting and to make this war a strategic failure for Russia is because the United States, together with our allies and partners, have had their back,” he said.

EU chief calls for Russian oil ban over war in UkraineUS President Joe Biden tours a Lockheed Martin weapons factory in Alabama, May 3 [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

12 hours ago (20:10 GMT)

‘This is our fight,’ says German opposition leader on Ukraine visit

Germany’s opposition leader has said during a visit to Ukraine that the country’s battle against Russian invaders was a fight on behalf of freedom everywhere, raising pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to make an appearance in the Ukrainian capital. “These aren’t images you forget in a hurry,” Friedrich Merz, leader of the Christian Democrats, who lost power in last September’s election, said of the destruction. “It’s not enough to see it on television: you have to see it in person to understand the extent of the tragedy.”

Merz added: “The Chancellor [Scholz] is right that it’s not just Ukraine that’s being defended here, but democracy and freedom – the very way we live in Germany.”

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read the updates from Tuesday, May 3.