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© 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) – Around 100 civilians evacuated from the ruined Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol were due to arrive in a Ukrainian-held city on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, after U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a surprise visit to Kyiv.

FIGHTING

* Russia’s defence ministry said it had carried out a missile strike on a military airfield near the port city of Odesa, destroying a runway and a hangar containing Western-supplied weapons and ammunition.

* Kharkiv region governor Oleh Synehubov warned residents in the north and east of the city of Kharkiv to remain in their shelters due to heavy Russian shelling. Reuters could not immediately verify reports of shelling in the area.

* Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, urged people to evacuate while it was still possible.

* Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukraine’s forces of shelling a school, kindergarten and cemetery in villages in the occupied southern Kherson region, the Russian RIA news agency said. There was no immediate response from Ukraine.

Reuters could not immediately verify reports of battlefield developments.

DIPLOMACY, CIVILIANS

* Dozens of civilians were evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works in a convoy with vehicles bearing United Nations symbols. A Reuters photographer saw civilians arriving at a temporary accommodation centre and the United Nations confirmed a safe passage operation to evacuate people had been under way.

* Cowering in the labyrinth of Soviet-era bunkers far beneath the vast Azovstal steel works, Natalia Usmanova felt her heart would stop she was so terrified as Russian bombs rained down on Mariupol, sprinkling her with concrete dust. She spoke to Reuters after being evacuated from the plant.

* Pelosi said she had met Zelenskiy to send the message that the United States stands firmly with Ukraine as it battles “Putin’s diabolic invasion”.

* Britain’s Foreign Office said Russia is using a troll factory to spread disinformation about the war on social media and target politicians across a number of countries including Britain and South Africa.

* Russia is committed to working to prevent a nuclear war ever beginning, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an Italian television interview on Sunday. Western media misrepresent Russian threats,” Lavrov said, speaking in Russian through an Italian interpreter.

* Finland will almost certainly apply for membership in NATO, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde (NYSE:) told Swedish television on Sunday. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced both Sweden and its eastern neighbour Finland to review beliefs that military neutrality is the best means of ensuring national security.

BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY

* U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he will add provisions to a $33 billion Ukraine aid package to allow the United States to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets and send money from their sale directly to Ukraine.

* Russia should confiscate property owned by Westerners in response to a proposal by U.S. President Joe Biden to transfer the frozen assets of Russia’s elite to Ukraine, Russia’s most senior lawmaker said.

* The European Union is leaning towards a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year, two EU diplomats said, after talks between the European Commission and EU member states this weekend.

* EU energy ministers were set to hold emergency talks on Monday, as the bloc strives for a united response to Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles or face their supply being cut off.

QUOTES

* “I suffer and cry thinking of the suffering of the Ukrainian population, in particular the weakest, the elderly, the children,” Pope Francis, speaking to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

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