Ukraine evening briefing: Five developments as Russian defence facility set ablaze in suspected Ukrainian attack

·4-min read
Ukrainian soldiers arrive at an abandoned building near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA
Ukrainian soldiers arrive at an abandoned building near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA

Good evening. A fire is raging at a Russian defence ministry facility in the Belgorod region close to the border, raising suspicions of a Ukrainian attack.

Meanwhile, an evacuation of the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is underway, in a much-anticipated rescue operation mediated by the United Nations shortly after António Guterres, the secretary-general, visited both Moscow and Kyiv.

Below are the key developments from this afternoon.

1. One injured after fire breaks out at Russian military site

One person has been injured after a fire broke out on Sunday at a Russian defence ministry facility in Belgorod, close to the border with Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the region's governor, said a local resident suffered minor injuries and his life was not in danger. There were no immediate comments from the defence ministry.

The governor of another border region, Kursk, said earlier on Sunday via Telegram that part of a railway bridge used by freight had collapsed, without causing any casualties.

"It was sabotage, a criminal case has been opened. The authorities in charge of the investigation will resolve the issue," governor Roman Starovoyt said, without naming Ukrainian forces and promising additional information later.

Russia has accused Ukrainian forces of multiple attacks on Russian territory, in areas close to the border with Ukraine.

2. 100 civilians evacuate Mariupol steel plant

Azovstal steel plant evacuees arrive in the village of Bezimenne - ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO
Azovstal steel plant evacuees arrive in the village of Bezimenne - ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO

The evacuation of the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol has begun, with an initial group of 100 civilians en route to Ukrainian-held territory.

"Evacuation of civilians from Azovstal began. The 1st group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area. Tomorrow we'll meet them in Zaporizhzhia," President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted on Sunday, referring to a city 130 miles north-west.

"Now they, together with #UN, are working on the evacuation of other civilians from the plant."

Earlier on Sunday, the United Nations had confirmed that a "safe passage operation is ongoing" at Azovstal, which was being coordinated by the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Read the full story here.

3. Russian MP brands Britain 'more evil' than the US

A Russian MP has labelled Great Britain "more evil" than the United States in a tirade on state TV.

Andrei Isayev, a pro-Kremlin politician, said that of "that couple that we constantly mention", the UK has "of course historically" been "more hardcore anti-Russian" than the US.

He said: "They’re basically Siamese twins, or two heads of a dragon, but Britain has historically been the more evil head of the dragon because in that couple it has responsibility for Europe."

Read the full story here.

4. Denmark says Russia plane breached airspace

The Danish government announced it had summoned Russia's ambassador after a Russian spy plane violated its airspace.

The plane entered Danish airspace on Friday evening east of the Danish Baltic island of Bornholm, before flying into Swedish airspace, the government said.

"The Russian ambassador is summoned to the foreign ministry tomorrow," Jeppe Kofod, the foreign minister, tweeted.

Mr Kofod added it was "totally unacceptable and particularly worrying in the current situation", referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions with Nato.

5. Russia's Victory Parade set to be dramatically reduced

The war in Ukraine has weakened the Russian military so dramatically that fewer soldiers and armoured vehicles will partake in the country’s Victory Parade in Moscow on May 9.

There will be fewer tanks and self-propelled artillery vehicles taking part in the parade, which commemorates the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The equipment that will be absent includes T-80BVM tanks, Solntsepek flamethrower systems and Pantsir-S anti-aircraft systems, according to information published by the Russian defence ministry.

There will be around 130 military vehicles taking part in the parade, compared with 191 last year.

Read more from Nick Squires here.

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