This is what happened today in Mariupol and beyond.
Conflicting reports about evacuations: Russian state media said two buses carrying civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Friday. But Ukrainian officials said they could not comment on the evacuation of civilians from the factory being organized by the United Nations and the International Red Cross. And the mayor of Mariupol’s office told DailyExpertNews he was unaware of the latest evacuations.
Zelensky claims deportations: More than “500,000 Ukrainians have been deported to Russia” since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday. He also accused Russians of blockades and starvation torture in Mariupol.
G7 to meet this weekend: US President Joe Biden will virtually meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his G7 counterparts Sunday morning at a meeting of the G7 forum, a National Security Council spokesman said. Sanctions are on the agenda of the meeting. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the timing of Sunday’s call ahead of Russia’s Victory Day is intentional.
Preparations for Victory Day: On May 9, known as Victory Day in Russia, the country commemorates the defeat of the Nazis in 1945. The Kremlin said May 9 will not be “overshadowed” by events in Ukraine, adding that “the The significance of this holiday cannot be overstated.” But the pageant is expected to be smaller this year than in previous years.
Some Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine on Monday, paving the way for him to ramp up his campaign.
Russia leaves its mark: Ukrainian officials have posted images from Mariupol showing what they call “the occupiers” are restoring Soviet-era monuments. Petro Andrushchenko, an adviser to the city’s mayor, released new photos Friday stating that all Soviet-era monuments have been “restored” in recent days.
Also, a senior official from Russia’s United Russia party said on Friday that Russia has come to the Kherson region to “stay forever”, and there should be “no doubt about that”.
And new satellite images show that Russia is excavating the site of the heavily bombed drama theater in Mariupol.
Grain Jammed: The blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, along with infrastructure challenges, is preventing the export of nearly 25 million tons of grain, a United Nations official said.
DailyExpertNews has also reported that Russian troops are stealing thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers, as well as targeting food storage depots with artillery, according to multiple sources.