Russia-Ukraine live updates: Italy freezes $700M yacht allegedly belonging to Putin

(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 07, 1:02 pm
All women, children evacuated from Mariupol steel plant, Ukraine deputy PM says

All women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol which has been long besieged by Russian forces, Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said Saturday.

“The president’s order has been carried out: all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal. This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed,” Vereshchuk said in a statement posted on telegram.

-ABC News’ Jason Volack

May 07, 11:46 am
Jill Biden meets with refugees, humanitarian organizations on visit to Romania

First lady Jill Biden met with Ukrainian refugees on Saturday and was briefed on humanitarian efforts from United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the Romanian government during her trip to Romania.

Biden also visited a Romanian public school, Școala Gimnazială Uruguay, that is hosting Ukrainian refugee students, with Romanian first lady Carmen Iohannis.

Biden spoke with Ukrainian and Romanian educators and met with Ukrainian refugee students and Romanian students in classroom settings.

Biden met with Ukrainian and Romanian children who were making “hands” out of pieces of paper decorated as the Ukrainian and Romanian flags. Some of the children wrote messages on the hands.

Madalina Turza, the senior coordinator of humanitarian assistance for Romania told Biden they are working with the country’s Association of Psychologist to train educators in trauma-informed teaching. She also noted that they are working to make sure that all students are integrated and not segregated from Romanian children, saying that while the refugees may want to stick together at the moment, in time they will need to be with Romanian kids.

Biden also participated in a listening session with Ukrainian educators and mothers.

One mother explained that she escaped Kharkiv with her 8-year-old daughter just two weeks ago and narrowly avoided death when she chose to take one route out of the city over another that was shelled that day. She had been hiding in a basement with her daughter for over a week when they decided to flee.

-ABC News’ Allie Pecorin and Armando Garcia

May 07, 9:05 am
Italy freezes $700 million yacht allegedly belonging to Putin

Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance on Saturday impounded the Scheherazade, a yacht said to be worth $700 million, which allegedly belonged to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The superyacht has been under investigation for months for possible connections to Putin and other Russians sanctioned by the EU. The Scheherazade was being refurbished in the Tuscan port of Marina di Cararra.

The investigation conducted by Italian authorities found significant economic and business connections between the owner of the Scheherazade and prominent people in the Russian government and other Russians sanctioned by the EU.

Italian officials also recommended to the EU Council that the owner of the boat be added to the list of Russians sanctioned for the war in Ukraine.

May 07, 8:41 am
Ukraine war taking heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units: UK defense ministry

The war in Ukraine is taking a toll on Russia’s military, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Saturday.

“The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities. It will take considerable time and expense for Russia to reconstitute its armed forces following this conflict,” the ministry said in a statement.

Adding, “It will be particularly challenging to replace modernized and advanced equipment due to sanctions restricting Russia’s access to critical microelectronic components.”

At least one T-90M, Russia’s newest tank, with its strongest armor, has been destroyed in the fighting, the Ministry of Defense said.

The Russian military has approximately 100 T-90M tanks currently in service, including those in Ukraine, but the system’s upgraded armor “remains vulnerable if unsupported by other elements,” the defense ministry said.

May 06, 7:16 pm
FLOTUS visits US troops, NATO military leadership in Romania

First Lady Jill Biden kicked off the first day of her overseas trip by visiting Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, where she met with U.S. troops and NATO military leadership.

The U.S. deployed troops to the base, which is about 60 miles from the border with Ukraine, in the leadup to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prior to departing the U.S. last night, the first lady told reporters, “It was so important to the president and to me that the Ukrainian people know that we stand with them.”

Biden drew cheers Friday when she greeted soldiers with a bottle of ketchup in hand — a commodity that has been in short supply on the base, according to her spokesperson.

Wearing a Beau Biden Foundation hat, the first lady helped serve mac and cheese and potatoes and shook hands and took photos with the service members. She also participated in a special story-time with United Through Reading, an organization that connects military families with a deployed service member through video recordings and virtual book readings.

Biden also met with members of the Delaware National Guard before departing the base for Bucharest.

May 06, 6:47 pm
Biden announces new security assistance pac
kage

The U.S. has announced another package of security assistance that will provide “additional artillery munitions, radars, and other equipment to Ukraine,” according to a Friday afternoon statement from President Joe Biden.

The U.S. will provide up to $150 million in new security assistance for Ukraine, according to a memorandum from Biden.

“With today’s announcement, my Administration has nearly exhausted funding that can be used to send security assistance through drawdown authorities for Ukraine,” Biden said in the statement. “For Ukraine to succeed in this next phase of war its international partners, including the U.S., must continue to demonstrate our unity and our resolve to keep the weapons and ammunition flowing to Ukraine, without interruption. Congress should quickly provide the requested funding to strengthen Ukraine on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”

The package includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, electronic jamming equipment, field equipment and spare parts, according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby.

“Capabilities in this package are tailored to meet critical Ukrainian needs for today’s fight as Russian forces continue their offensive in eastern Ukraine,” Kirby said in a statement.

This marks the ninth drawdown of equipment from Department of Defense inventories for Ukraine since August 2021, according to Kirby.

May 06, 4:11 pm
UNSC adopts resolution supporting ‘peaceful solution’ in Ukraine

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a statement voicing “deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine,” the first such message issued by the body since the war began.

The statement reminds all U.N. members of their responsibility to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means” and express “support of the efforts of the Secretary-General in the search for a peaceful solution.”

The text was drafted by envoys from Norway and Mexico and was agreed upon by all members of the council, including Russia.

The permanent representative from Mexico, Juan Ramón de la Fuente, said it demonstrated all members of the Security Council were “united” in the pursuit of “diplomatic resolution,” although he acknowledged it took over two months to reach this point.

Pressed on whether he thought Russia was earnestly seeking a peaceful end to the war, Ramón de la Fuente said the country demonstrated “a willingness to move in that direction.”

However, the UNSC’s statement is already drawing criticism from those who say it fails to hold Russia accountable for the violence.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement: “I welcome this support and will continue to spare no effort to save lives, reduce suffering and find the path of peace.”

May 06, 1:30 pm
Zelenskyy to join Biden, German chancellor in G-7 virtual leaders meeting

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will join President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a G-7 virtual leaders meeting on Sunday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Psaki noted that imposing new sanctions on Russia may also be discussed during the meeting.

“They will discuss the latest developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine, the global impact of Putin’s war, showing support for Ukraine and Ukraine’s future and demonstrating continued G7 unity in our collective response, including building on our unprecedented sanctions to impose severe costs for Putin’s war,” she said.

The meeting will happen the day before Russia’s “Victory Day,” a celebration of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany. Western officials have warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin may ramp up his attacks on Ukraine in the lead up to the day and may want to claim a new victory.

Psaki hinted the administration was intentional about meeting before that day.

“I think it should not be lost the significance or –on anyone the significance of when the timeline when his — when this G-7 meeting is happening, which is the day before Russia’s Victory Day, which President Putin has certainly projected his desire to mark that day as a day where he is victorious over Ukraine. Of course, he’s not,” she said.

May 06, 1:18 pm
US shared intel with Ukraine that helped sink Russian flagship Moskva last month, officials say

The U.S. shared intelligence with Ukraine that helped it sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, last month, according to two U.S. officials.

The Ukrainians, who have their own intelligence capabilities, had tracked the Moskva independently, though, and the U.S. did not provide “specific targeting information,” according to one of the officials.

“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Thursday. “We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship. The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case.”

The U.S. official also noted that: “We do provide a range of intelligence to help the Ukrainians understand the threat posed by Russian ships in the Black Sea and to help them prepare to defend against potential sea-based assaults. Many of the missiles fired at Ukraine have come from Russian ships in the Black Sea, and those ships could be used to support an assault on cities like Odesa.”

NBC News first reported this intel.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday downplayed the role of U.S intelligence.

“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out. We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship,” she said. “The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case. And I’ve discussed this with both our national security adviser and the President and the view is that, one, this is an inaccurate over-claiming of our role and an under-claiming of the role of the Ukrainians who frankly have a greater level of intelligence and access to intelligence than we do.”

Still, she said that the U.S. is providing Ukraine with a range of intelligence, which they can use in conjunction with their own findings.

“We do provide a range of intelligence to help them understand the threat posed by Russian ships in the Black Sea and to help them prepare to defend themselves against potential sea-based assaults, but they take our intelligence and they combine that with what they have access to. And so on this specific report, it’s just not an accurate depiction of how this happened,” she added.

May 06, 8:28 am
Video shows explosions, smoke at Mariupol steel plant

Video circulating online shows explosions and smoke coming from the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant in Mariupol.

The footage was released Thursday by the Azov Regiment, a far-right group now part of the Ukrainian military that was among the units defending Mariupol and is holed up inside the Azovstal plant with others. In a statement alongside the video posted on Telegram, the group said that Russian forces were keeping the plant “under heavy fire,” using “aircraft, artillery and infantry.”

ABC News was unable to verify the date that the video was taken.

In recent days, Ukraine and Russia have offered conflicting accounts of what’s taking place at the Azovstal plant. Ukrainian fighters claimed that Russian forces started storming the plant this week, which Russia has denied and instead claimed that its troops have “securely blocked” the sprawling industrial site.

Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters and civilians are said to be trapped inside the Azovstal plant, the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol as Russian forces declare full control over the strategic Ukrainian port city.

May 06, 7:51 am
Russia says war in Ukraine is ‘going to plan’

Russia’s so-called special military operation in neighboring Ukraine is going according to plan, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“The operation has been going to plan,” Peskov said during a press briefing in Moscow on Friday.

When asked about reports that Putin’s inner circle was not informed about the start of the operation, Peskov told reporters: “As you understand, naturally, information about the special military operation cannot be shared widely the day before it begins.”

“That is because, clearly, such classified information is always shared with a rather limited circle of persons. This is an absolutely normal practice,” he added. “The very essence of this operation does not imply that information about it will be shared widely.”

May 05, 10:49 pm
US shared intel with Ukraine that helped sink Russian flagship Moskva last month, officials say

The U.S. shared intelligence with Ukraine that helped it sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, last month, according to two U.S. officials.

The Ukrainians, who have their own intelligence capabilities, had tracked the Moskva independently, though, and the U.S. did not provide “specific targeting information,” according to one of the officials.

“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement Thursday. “We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to target the ship. The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case.”

The U.S. official also noted that: “We do provide a range of intelligence to help the Ukrainians understand the threat posed by Russian ships in the Black Sea and to help them prepare to defend against potential sea-based assaults. Many of the missiles fired at Ukraine have come from Russian ships in the Black Sea, and those ships could be used to support an assault on cities like Odesa.”

NBC News first reported this intel.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

May 05, 9:05 pm
US ambassador to UN calls out countries for remaining neutral

Presiding over her first open meeting of the United Nations Security Council since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield implored representatives still clinging to neutrality to speak out against Russian aggression.

“The truth is well known. Russia is the only perpetrator of this war. So it’s hard to understand why some council members continue to call on all parties to desist,” Thomas-Greenfield said, calling out countries like Brazil, India, and to some extent — China.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. Members should call on Russia explicitly to stop its aggression against Ukraine,” she said.

Speaking in her capacity as the United States’ permanent representative and not as the temporary president of the council, Thomas-Greenfield lamented that Russian envoys had repeatedly used the body to spread disinformation.

“Three months ago, Russian representatives told this council they had no intention to invade Ukraine. Now, Russia claims the attacks aren’t real or never happened,” she said. “Russia even claims that Ukraine is attacking itself, that they bombed their own buildings, attacked their own people and assaulted their own democracy. These lies defy all logic, all evidence and common sense.”

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

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