(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military last month launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, attempting to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and to secure a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.


Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

May 04, 12:56 pm
Russian troops entered Mariupol plant, shelling ongoing

Russian troops have entered part of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant in Mariupol, Ukraine’s chief negotiator with Russia, David Arakhamia, said in an interview with Ukraine’s Radio Liberty on Wednesday.


The plant continues to come under bombardment and shelling, he said.

The plant, which stretches over 4.2 square miles, is the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. Russia claimed Wednesday that its military had taken complete control of Mauripol, a strategic port city in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

This is the first time it appears that Russian soldiers have successfully entered the plant. It is not clear how many soldiers entered or where.


-ABC News’ Fidel Pavlenko

May 04, 12:26 pm
Ukraine claims Russia plans to hold WWII Victory Day parade in Mariupol

Ukraine’s military intelligence claims Russia is planning to hold a World War II Victory Day parade in Mariupol on May 9. The military intelligence said streets are being cleared of bodies and debris.


Russia claimed Wednesday that its military has taken complete control of Mauripol, a strategic port city in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

May 9 is a major holiday in Russia known as Victory Day, commemorating the country’s victory over the Nazis. It’s usually celebrated with a military parade in Moscow and a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last week, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace told LBC Radio that Putin will “probably” use the occasion to declare war. Russia has maintained that it’s carrying out “special military operations” in Ukraine and hasn’t declared war. In a call with reporters Wednesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said claims Russia will declare a general mobilization are “absurd.”


-ABC News’ Yuriy Zaliznyak

May 04, 11:41 am
Russia claims to have taken full control of Mariupol, ‘securely blocked’ steel plant

Russia claimed Wednesday that its military has taken complete control of Mauripol, a strategic port city in Ukraine’s war-torn east.


“Peaceful life is being established in the territories of the LPR and DPR and Ukraine liberated from nationalists, including Mariupol, the largest industrial and transport hub on the Sea of ​​Azov,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a teleconference. “It is under the control of the Russian army.”

According to Shoigu, Russian forces have “securely blocked” remaining Ukrainian fighters on the grounds of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant in Mariupol. The sprawling industrial site, which includes a maze of underground tunnels and bunkers, is the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol.

“In accordance with the instructions of the supreme commander, the remnants of the militants located in the industrial zone of the Azovstal plant are securely blocked around the entire perimeter of this territory,” Shoigu told reporters. “Repeated proposals to the nationalists to release civilians and lay down their arms with a guarantee of saving lives and decent treatment in accordance with international law, they have ignored. We continue these attempts.”


During a daily briefing call later Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the situation at the blockaded plant hadn’t changed and denied reports that Russian forces had begun storming the bombed-out territory, but said they have seen sporadic attempts by Ukrainian fighters to open fire.

“The supreme commander-in-chief has publicly ordered that the storm be canceled. There is no storm,” Peksov told reporters. “We can see that escalations happen as the fighters come to firing positions. These attempts are suppressed quite rapidly.”

ABC News recently spoke with Denys Prokopenko, a commander of the Azov Regiment, a far-right group now part of the Ukrainian military that was among the units defending Mariupol and is holed up inside the Azovstal plant with others. He said the fighters inside have tried to initiate a cease-fire to create conditions to allow people to flee but have yet to surrender, despite the odds. There are a number of people wounded and dead inside the plant, with some out of reach after sections of a bunker collapsed from Russian bombardment, according to Prokopenko.


“We are in full blockade, full circle of surrounding and we are under fire and the city is under fire,” Prokopenko told ABC News.

Earlier this week, a humanitarian convoy evacuated more than 100 civilians from the Azovstal plant and escorted them safely to Zaporizhzhia, a Ukrainian government-controlled city located about 140 miles northwest of Mariupol. Hundreds more civilians remain trapped inside the plant and Russian forces have resumed shelling of the area, according to Ukrainian officials.

-ABC News’ Clark Bentson, Dragana Jovanovic and Ian Pannell


May 04, 5:19 am
EU leader proposes import ban on Russian oil

The European Union’s top official called on the 27-nation bloc on Wednesday to gradually ban oil imports from Russia as part of a sixth set of sanctions against Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed that member nations “phase out” imports of Russian crude oil within six months and refined oil products from Russia by the end of the year. She also recommended sanctions targeting Russia’s biggest bank and major broadcasters.


“We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets,” von der Leyen said. “Thus, we maximise pressure on Russia, while at the same time minimising collateral damage to us and our partners around the globe. Because to help Ukraine, our own economy has to remain strong.”

The proposals must be unanimously approved to take effect. Von der Leyen admitted that getting all 27 member countries to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy.” Hungary and Slovakia, both of which are highly dependent on Russian energy, have already demanded exemptions.

“Some member states are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to work on it,” she said. “We now propose a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.”


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