© Reuters. A woman sits with children as evacuees, including civilians who left the area near Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, arrive at a temporary accommodation centre during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the village of Bezimenne in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine May 1
(Reuters) – Russian forces pounded targets in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, unleashing rockets on a steel plant that is Ukraine’s last redoubt in the port city of Mariupol as the European Union prepared to slap oil sanctions on Moscow.
* The armed forces of Belarus began sudden large-scale drills on Wednesday to test their combat readiness, the defence ministry of Ukraine’s neighbour said.
* Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in an effort to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas region, Britain said on Wednesday. * Russian attacks in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region killed 21 civilians and injured 27 on Tuesday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in an online post.
* 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 defence ministry said.
* Andriy Sadoviy, the mayor of Lviv, a western city near the Polish border, said late on Tuesday that air strikes had damaged power stations, cutting off electricity in some districts.
Reuters could not immediately verify reports of battlefield developments.
BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY* Russia was set to avoid a debt default after overdue payments on two of its sovereign Eurobonds were sent to creditors, four sources told Reuters.* U.S. President Joe Biden visited a Lockheed Martin (NYSE:) facility in Alabama that manufactures the anti-tank Javelin missile, spotlighting a weapon that has helped Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion.
* The European Union will slap new sanctions on Russia for waging war against Ukraine, targeting Moscow’s oil industry, more Russian banks and those responsible for disinformation, the EU’s top diplomat said on Tuesday.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin put the West on notice that he could terminate exports and deals, the Kremlin’s toughest response yet to the sanctions burden imposed by the United States and its allies.
* Ukraine is forecast to have a significant shortage of grain storing facilities in the 2022/23 season due to a sharp fall in exports resulting from Russia’s invasion, analyst APK-Inform said.
* Dozens of evacuees who took refuge for weeks in the bunkers of a steel works in Russian-occupied Mariupol reached the safety of Kyiv-controlled Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday, but aid workers said many still remained trapped in the port city.
* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said no one could assume that Russia would not attack other countries given its violation of international law in Ukraine, and Germany would support Finland and Sweden if they decided to join NATO.
* Pope Francis said he had asked for a meeting in Moscow with Putin to try to stop the war but had not received a reply.* Ukraine’s prosecutor general accused Russia on Tuesday of using rape as a tactic of war and described Russian President Putin as “the main war criminal of the 21st century”. Russia denies targeting civilians in the conflict and rejects charges that its forces have committed war crimes.