KYIV: Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:
‘Heavy fighting’ at Azovstal
The mayor of the destroyed city of Mariupol says contact has been lost with Ukrainian forces holed up in the Azovstal steel plant amid “heavy fighting” with Russian troops.
City officials have no way of knowing “what’s going on, whether they are safe or not”, Vadym Boichenko tells Ukrainian television.
The Kremlin denies Russia is storming the plant after Ukraine accuses Moscow of launching a “powerful” assault on the industrial zone.
Later Russia announces its forces will cease fire at Azovstal and open a humanitarian corridor for civilians for three days.
As evacuations from Mariupol continue, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asks United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to help save the lives of the remaining wounded Ukrainians trapped in Azovstal, and calls on the UN to “assist in the removal of all the wounded”.
“The lives of the people who remain there are in danger. Everyone is important to us,” he says.
Nuclear-capable missile practice
Russia says its forces have practised simulated nuclear-capable missile strikes during war games in Kaliningrad, an enclave on the Baltic Sea located between EU members Poland and Lithuania.
Moscow practised simulated “electronic launches” of nuclear-capable Iskander mobile ballistic missile systems, the defence ministry says in a statement.
20 bodies found in Kyiv region
The bodies of another 20 civilians are found in the Kyiv region, police say, raising the total number found there so far to 1,235.
Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebytov says the latest discoveries were found in Borodianka and the surrounding villages, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Bucha, the town near Kyiv now synonymous with allegations of Russian war crimes.
Biden ‘open’ to more sanctions
US President Joe Biden says he is “open” to imposing more sanctions on Russia and will discuss measures with allies from the G7 in the next few days.
“We’re always open to additional sanctions,” Biden says shortly after the European Union announced plans for banning Russian oil imports and other new measures.
New EU sanctions, oil ban take shape
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen says the bloc will impose a gradual Russian oil ban.
“We will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year,” she tells the European Parliament.
EU states opposing embargo ‘complicit’: Kyiv
Ukraine says EU countries blocking an embargo on imports of Russian oil would be complicit in crimes committed by Russian troops on Ukrainian territory by funding Moscow’s military.
“If there is any country in Europe who will continue to oppose the embargo on Russian oil, there will be good reason to say, this country is complicit in the crimes committed by Russia in the territory of Ukraine,” Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says in a briefing on social media.
Mariupol military parade planned: Kyiv
Ukraine accuses Russia of planning to hold a military parade in the destroyed city of Mariupol on May 9 to celebrate victory over the Nazis in World War II.
Kyiv says an official from Russia’s presidential administration has arrived in the strategic southern port city, to oversee plans for the Victory Day parade.
Eastern assault continues
Russian forces continue to pound sites to the east of the country, Ukraine’s general staff says, as Moscow seeks to establish “full control” of the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, and to maintain a land corridor to occupied Crimea.
In Lugansk, governor Sergiy Gaiday says two people have died in the last 24 hours, and “the whole region is under fire completely, there is no safe place”.
Belarus launches manoeuvres
Belarus, a Moscow ally that shares a border with Ukraine, launches “surprise” military manoeuvres, to test the reactive capacity of its army, its defence ministry says.
Belarus military units were testing their capacity to “go on the alert, move to predetermined zones and undertake combat training,” it says.
EU to support Moldova
European Council President Charles Michel pledges to increase EU military aid to Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbour that has seen a series of attacks in a pro-Moscow separatist region.