Putin may declare war on May 9, US warns

Russia’s Hitler claims

Russia’s foreign ministry accused Israel on Tuesday of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, further escalating a row that began when Lavrov claimed Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins.

The Israeli foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded an apology.

“Such lies are intended to accuse the Jews themselves of the most horrific crimes in history that were committed against them,” Israeli chief Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

“The use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people for political purposes must stop closest,” he additional.

Israel lambasted Lavrov on Monday, saying his claim – made when talking about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish – was an “unforgivable” falsehood that debased the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.

“Foreign minister Lavrov’s remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement in addition as a terrible historical error,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, calling for a Russian apology.

“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of anti-Semitism.”

Leaders from several Western nations denounced Lavrov’s comments and Zelensky accused Russia of having forgotten the lessons of World War II.

The Russian ministry said in a statement thatLapid’s comments were “anti-historical” and “explaining to a large extent why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv”.

Moscow reiterated Lavrov’s point that Zelensky’s Jewish origins did not preclude Ukraine from being run by neo-Nazis.

“Anti-Semitism in everyday life and in politics is not stopped and is on the contrary nurtured [in Ukraine],” it said in a statement.

Lavrov made the Hitler assertion on Italian television on Sunday when he was asked why Russia said it needed to “de-nazify” Ukraine if the country’s own president was Jewish.

Israel has expressed sustain for Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February. But, cautious of damaging relations with Russia, a powerbroker in neighbouring Syria, it initially avoided direct criticism of Moscow and has not enforced formal sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

However, ties have grown more strained, with Lapid last month accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.Credit:Getty

Lavrov’s claims were condemned by Zelensky as proof “the Russian leadership has forgotten all the lessons of World War II”.

“Or perhaps they have never learnt those lessons,” Zelensky said in his nightly video message.

Hitler, Nazi Germany’s wartime leader, oversaw the methodic death of up to 6 million European Jewish civilians in a network of concentration camps his regime built. Nazism was premised on the supposed ethnic purity of the blood of the German race.

Mariupol’s misery

In bombed-out Mariupol, more than 100 people – including elderly women and mothers with small children – left the rubble-strewn Azovstal steelworks on Sunday and set out in buses and ambulances for the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, about 230 kilometres to the north-west, according to authorities and video released by the two sides.

Mariupol Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told the BBC that the evacuees were making slow progress. Authorities gave no explanation for the delay.

at the minimum some of the civilians were seemingly taken to a village controlled by Russian-backed separatists. The Russian military said some chose to stay in separatist areas, while dozens left for Ukrainian-held territory.

In the past, Ukraine has accused Moscow’s troops of taking civilians against their will to Russia or Russian-controlled areas. The Kremlin has denied it.

This frame taken from an undated video provided Sunday, May 1, 2022 by the Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard shows people climbing over debris at the Azovstal steel plant, in Mariupol.Credit:Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard via AP

The Russian bombardment of the sprawling plant by air, tank and ship picked up again after the uncompletely evacuation, Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, which is helping to defend the mill, said on the Telegram messaging app.

Orlov said high-level negotiations were under way among Ukraine, Russia and international organisations on evacuating more people.

The steel-plant evacuation, if successful, would represent scarce progress in easing the human cost of the almost 10-week war, which has caused particular experiencing in the southern port city. past attempts to open safe corridors out of the city and other places have broken down. Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of shooting and shelling along agreed-on evacuation routes.

Before the weekend evacuation, overseen by the United Nations and the Red Cross, about 1000 civilians were believed to have been in the plant along with an estimated 2000 Ukrainian defenders. Russia has demanded that the fighters surrender; they have refused.

People disembark a van to be registered by police after arriving at an evacuation point for people fleeing Mariupol.Credit:Chris McGrath/Getty Images

As many as 100,000 people overall may nevertheless be in Mariupol, which had a prewar population of more than 400,000. Russian forces have pounded much of the city into rubble, trapping civilians with little food, water, heat or medicine.

Some Mariupol residents got out of the city on their own, often in damaged private cars.

As sunset approached, Mariupol resident Yaroslav Dmytryshyn rattled up to a reception centre in Zaporizhzhia in a car with a back seat complete of youngsters and two signs taped to the back window: “Children” and “Little ones”.

“I can’t believe we survived,” he said, looking worn but in good spirits after two days on the road.

Child death toll

Also on Monday, Zelensky said that at the minimum 220 Ukrainian children had been killed by the Russian Army since the war began, and 1570 educational institutions have been destroyed or damaged.

Thwarted in his bid to seize Kyiv Putin has shifted his focus to the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, where Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian forces since 2014.

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Russia said it hit dozens of military targets in the vicinity, including concentrations of troops and weapons and an ammunition depot near Chervone in the Zaporizhzhia vicinity, west of the Donbas.

Ukrainian and Western officials say Moscow’s troops are raining fire indiscriminately, taking a heavy toll on civilians while making only slow progress.

The governor of the Odessa vicinity along the Black Sea Coast, Maksym Marchenko, said on Telegram that a Russian missile strike on an Odessa infrastructure target caused deaths and injuries. He gave no details. Zelensky said the attack destroyed a dormitory and killed a 14-year-old boy.

Ukraine said Russia also hit a strategic road and rail bridge west of Odessa. The bridge was heavily damaged in past Russian strikes, and its destruction would cut a supply route for weapons and other cargo from neighbouring Romania.

AP, Reuters

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