Russia-Ukraine war: Russia unleashes rockets at Azovstal plant

Western officials believe "special op" could officially turn to "war" • Ten killed in Russian shelling of Donetsk • Russian assault continues on Odesa.

 Smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 25, 2022. (photo credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
Smoke rises above a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 25, 2022.
(photo credit: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

'Assault on Azovstal continues despite ceasefire'

Mariupol, a city of 400,000 before Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, has seen the bloodiest fighting of the war, enduring weeks of siege and shelling. Some 100,000 civilians are still in the devastated city, now under Russian control.

"You wake up in the morning and you cry. You cry in the evening. I don't know where to go at all," said Mariupol resident Tatyana Bushlanova, sitting by a blackened apartment block and talking over the sound of shells exploding nearby.

In a Telegram video from the steel plant, Captain Sviatoslav Palamar of Ukraine's Azov Regiment said Russia had pounded Azovstal with naval and barrel artillery through the night and dropped heavy bombs from planes.

Reuters could not independently verify his account. However, Reuters images on Monday showed volleys of rockets fired from a Russian truck-mounted launcher towards Azovstal.

"As of this moment, a powerful assault on the territory of the Azovstal plant is underway with the support of armored vehicles, tanks, attempts to land on boats and a large number of infantry," Palamar said.

Ukraine's prosecutor general, visiting the shattered town of Irpin near Kyiv on Tuesday, accused Russia of using rape as a tactic of war.

Iryna Venediktova also described Putin as "the main war criminal of the 21st century."

Russia denies targeting civilians and rejects charges that its forces have committed war crimes.

Ten killed in Russian shelling of Donetsk 

At least 10 people were killed and 15 wounded by Russian shelling of a coking plant in the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, the regional governor said. The Ukrainian president's office said earlier that other areas of Donetsk were under constant fire.

'Ukraines finest hour'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a further 300 million pounds ($375 million) in aid, including electronic warfare equipment and a counter-battery radar system.

"This is Ukraine's finest hour, (one) that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come," Johnson told Ukraine's parliament via video link. He was channeling the words spoken by Winston Churchill in 1940 when Britain faced the threat of being invaded and defeated by Nazi Germany.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Putin in a phone call on Tuesday to order an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and to lift Russia's embargo on Ukrainian exports via the Black Sea. Putin said Russia remained open to dialog, the Kremlin said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Putin's policies were "imperialistic," and that he would support Finland and Sweden if they decided to join NATO, as each is now considering.

"No one can assume that the Russian president and government will not on other occasions break international law with violence," said Scholz, who in the past has been accused of being too soft on Moscow but has now thrown Germany's support behind the EU plans for a ban on Russian oil imports.

Mariupol evacuation

Russia unleashed rockets on Tuesday on an encircled steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine's last redoubt in the port city, after a ceasefire broke down with some civilians still trapped beneath the sprawling site despite a UN-brokered evacuation.

However, scores of exhausted-looking evacuees who managed to leave under UN and Red Cross auspices at the weekend after cowering for weeks under the Azovstal plant finally reached the relative safety of Ukraine-controlled Zaporizhzhia.

Osnat Lubrani, UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said 101 evacuees including young children and pensioners had reached Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday from Mariupol.

"I can't believe I made it, we just want rest," said Alina Kozitskaya, who spent weeks sheltering in a basement with her bags packed waiting for a chance to escape.

"We would have hoped that many more people would have been able to join the convoy and get out of hell. That is why we have mixed feelings," Pascal Hundt from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told journalists by Zoom.

From "special operation" to "war"

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been going on for 69 days now, but some Western officials believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin may make it official on Monday, May 9, according to CNN. 

Moscow has made it a point to call its invasion of Ukraine a "special operation" committed to the goal of "denazifying" the country.   

May 9 is significant because it is a commemoration of Russia's victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. Germany surrendered - via a legal document called the German Instrument of Surrender - on the evening of May 8, which fell on May 9 in Russia. 

Russian assault continues on Odesa

Russia has struck a military airfield near Ukraine's southwestern city of Odesa with missiles, destroying drones, missiles and ammunition supplied to Ukraine by the United States and its European allies, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.

"High-precision Onyx missiles struck a logistics center at a military airfield in the Odesa region through which foreign weapons were being delivered," the defense ministry said.

"Hangars containing unmanned Bayraktar TB2 drones, as well as missiles and ammunition from the US and European countries, were destroyed," it said.

Russian missiles and artillery also struck various military targets across Ukraine, including command centers, arsenals, and an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.

The governor of Odesa, Maksym Marchenko, said a rocket strike had hit the Black Sea port city on Monday evening, causing deaths and injuries.

Moscow says 1,847 children among thousands transported from Ukraine to Russia

More than 11,500 people, including 1,847 children, were transported from Ukraine into Russia on Monday without the participation of Kyiv's authorities, Russia's defense ministry said.

Read more of our Russia-Ukraine coverage here: 

That number includes evacuations from Russian-backed breakaway regions of Ukraine, the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics, which Russia recognized as independent just before launching its February 24 invasion.

Russia says the people were evacuated at their own request, while Ukraine has said Moscow has forcefully deported thousands of people to Russia since the war started.

Ukraine's Internal Affairs Ministry announced on Tuesday the launching of another hotline to help Ukrainian civilians report and find their missing and dead. 

Since the beginning of the war, over 59,000 people passed through Ukraine's borders with the EU and Moldova, 29,000 of them just since Monday, Ukraine's border services stated.


Ukraine's prosecutor general said on Tuesday that a total of 220 children have died since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, citing data, and another 626 injured.