(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military last month launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, attempting to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and to secure a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
May 03, 10:24 am
Civilians evacuated from plant have arrived safely in Zaporizhzhia: UN
Civilians trapped for weeks inside the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant in Mariupol have arrived safely in Zaporizhzhia, according to the United Nations.
“I’m relieved to confirm that the safe passage operation from Mariupol has been successful,” tweeted Osnat Lubrani, the U.N.’s resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine. “The people I travelled with told me heartbreaking stories of the hell they went through. I’m thinking about the people who remain trapped. We will do all we can to assist them.”
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Irina Vereshchuk, said 156 civilians were part of the convoy, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Many more people remain trapped at the plant. The sprawling industrial site is the last holdout for the Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, as Russian forces accelerate their efforts to fully capture city. The Mariupol City Council has previously said there are at least 1,000 people, including Ukrainian troops, on the grounds of the Azovstal plant. Vereshchuk has said that civilians, including women and children, are also sheltering there.
-ABC News’ Zoe Magee and Christine Theodorou
May 03, 9:47 am
‘He’s the main war criminal of the 21st century’: Ukrainian prosecutor on Putin
Ukraine’s lead prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, said Russian President Vladimir Putin should “absolutely” be prosecuted for the war crimes she says occurred in the town of Irpin and surrounding communities.
“He’s the main war criminal of the 21st century,” she said.
“We all know who started this war. And this person is Vladimir Putin,” she said.
Venediktova said the first phase of the war crimes investigation in Irpin has ended. She said investigators found evidence of rape, torture and the use of banned weapons of war in the city.
May 03, 5:32 am
Russia’s military ‘now significantly weaker,’ UK says
Russia’s military is “now significantly weaker, both materially and conceptually,” than it had been prior to its invasion of Ukraine, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.
“Recovery from this will be exacerbated by sanctions,” the ministry said in an intelligence update. “This will have a lasting impact on Russia’s ability to deploy conventional military force.”
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 03 May 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/xvqMIBbfFS
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) May 3, 2022
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