Ukraine latest updates: Zelenskyy ‘ready’ for talks with Putin

Ukrainian president says is prepared to hold discussions with his Russian counterpart over ending war, but ‘only him’.

A firefighter is seen trying to extinguish a blaze after a Russian bombing near Kharkiv
Russia's offensive in Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced millions of others and destroyed hundreds of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]
  • Ukrainian President says he is “ready” to hold face-to-face talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
  • Kyiv says Ukrainian forces have thwarted Moscow’s plans to destroy Ukrainian statehood, but warns a “long-term” phase of the war lies ahead.
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey is opposed to anticipated NATO membership bids by Finland and Sweden.
  • Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman accuses Russia of having deported more than 210,000 children since the war began.

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These were the updates on Friday, May 13:

Talks with Russia on getting defenders out of Azovstal very difficult, Kyiv says

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said negotiations with Russia on getting defenders out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol were “very difficult” but did not give details.

“The result may not be to everyone’s liking, but our task is to evacuate our boys. All of them. Alive,” she said in an online post. “God willing we will rescue them all.”

Turkey’s standing in NATO unchanged despite comments on Finland, Sweden: Pentagon

The United States is working to clarify Erdogan’s comments about Finland and Sweden but Ankara’s standing in the NATO alliance had not changed because of them, the Pentagon has said.

“Nothing changes about their standing in the NATO alliance … we’re working to better clarify [their] position,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

US ‘working to clarify Turkey’s position’ on NATO enlargement

The United States is “working to clarify Turkey’s position” after its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to block Finland and Sweden from joining NATO, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said.

The idea of the two nations joining the transatlantic alliance had received “broad support from NATO member countries,” Psaki said.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Erdogan says Turkey is opposed to Finland and Sweden joining NATO [File: Yves Herman/Pool via Reuters]

Russia advises against UK travel

Russia says it is recommending that its citizens not travel to Britain, complaining that authorities there were making it “virtually impossible” for Russians to obtain visas.

The foreign ministry alleged Russian applications were being delayed because Britain was giving higher priority to Ukrainian refugees.

“… We recommend that Russian citizens refrain, if possible, from travelling to the UK and trying to obtain British visas,” it said.

“Until the situation normalises, we will act in the same way with respect to the British.”

Ukraine to import 420,000 tonnes of fuel in May

Ukraine has signed contracts to import 300,000 tonnes of diesel and 120,000 tonnes of petrol to cover consumption in May as Russia targets Ukrainian fuel infrastructure, First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko has said.

Russia has destroyed 27 fuel depots and the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine since it launched its invasion, the official said.

Italy backs Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Italy will fully support NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, foreign minister Luigi Di Maio has said.

“We as Italy will be very happy to welcome these two countries in this great alliance that defends its member countries and … which has guaranteed peace for decades,” Di Maio told reporters in Berlin.

Russia to cut electricity to Finland from Saturday: Supplier

Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland this weekend, a supplier has claimed, as tensions rise over Helsinki’s anticipated NATO bid.

“We are forced to suspend the electricity import starting from May 14,” RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of Russian state energy holding Inter RAO, said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Russia or Finland over the reported move.

US defence chief urges immediate ceasefire in call with Russian counterpart

The US defence secretary has called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine during talks by phone with his Russian counterpart, the Pentagon says.

Lloyd Austin also stressed the “importance of maintaining lines of communication” during his discussion with Sergei Shoigu, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

The talks marked the first time Austin had spoken with Shoigu since February 18, Kirby added.

UK and Norway sign new joint declaration on ‘enhancing cooperation’

The United Kingdom and Norway have penned a new joint declaration on “enhancing cooperation” between the two countries, just days after London signed deals with fellow Scandinavian nations Finland and Sweden aimed at bolstering European security.

The agreement, which covers areas from security and defence to climate change and energy, came as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store for talks in London.

“Both leaders underscored their full support for any sovereign choice made by Nordic partners to enhance their security,” a statement issued by Johnson’s office said.

“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Stoere agreed that neither NATO nor the Nordic region posed a threat and that the longstanding policy of ‘High North, low tension’ had created decades of stability and prosperity for the area.”

Ukraine accuses Russia of deporting more than 210,000 children

Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman has accused Moscow of having deported hundreds of thousands of children since launching its invasion on February 24 and wanting to make them Russian citizens.

Lyudmyla Denisova said the more than 210,000 children were among 1.2 million Ukrainians who Kyiv alleges have been taken out of the country against their will.

“When our children are taken out, they destroy the national identity, deprive our country of the future,” Denisova said on national television. “They teach our children there, in Russian, the history that Putin has told everyone.”

There was no immediate reaction to Denisova’s claims from Moscow. Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the figures provided, or the allegations, for which Denisova did not provide supporting evidence.

The 1949 Geneva Conventions, which define international legal standards for humanitarian treatment in conflict, prohibit mass forcible transfers of civilians during a conflict to the territory of the occupying power, classifying it as a war crime.

US says it is working to clarify Turkey’s stance on NATO expansion

Washington is working to clarify Turkey’s position on Sweden and Finland’s potential membership of NATO, Washington’s top diplomat for Europe at the the US State Department has said.

Karen Donfried, assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian affairs, said during a call with reporters that the topic will be discussed at the NATO ministerial meeting over the weekend in Berlin.

EU, US join forces to ensure food security, access to fertiliser

The European Union and the US are planning to launch a new platform to address the security of food supplies and agricultural commodities as the war in Ukraine curbs global access to staple crops and fertilisers from the region.

Read more here.

Erdogan says Turkey opposed to Finland, Sweden joining NATO

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey is opposed to anticipated NATO membership bids by Sweden and Finland, accusing the two countries of being “guesthouses for terrorist organisations”.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said Ankara did not have “positive views” on the Scandinavian countries’ expected moves.

Turkey’s opposition could pose a problem for Sweden and Finland given all 30 NATO allies must unanimously approve a new country becoming part of the United-States led alliance.

Read more here.


Ukraine calls on G7 nations to seize Russian assets

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is calling on major industrialised nations to seize and hand over Russian assets to help rebuild his war-torn country, as he meets the G7 club in Germany.

He has warned that any omission of an embargo on Russian oil in the EU’s next sanctions package, due to Hungary’s opposition, would spell the end of the bloc’s unity, calling it a “critical moment”.

At that G7 meeting, the EU’s Josep Borrell said the bloc plans to provide another $520m for the delivery of weapons and other military equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukraine threatens Russian town with shelling

An aide to Ukraine’s interior minister has warned that Ukrainian forces may shell a western Russian town.

“Belgorod, get ready,” Victor Andrusiv said in televised remarks.

Belgorod is where Russia had stationed multiple-rocket launchers to hit Kharkiv. Andrusiv said that Ukraine may attempt an attack because his country needs to safeguard the second-largest city, that sits 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the border.

“That’s why I think in the near future, they will find out what it’s like to run to basements, when their houses are burning,” Andrusiv said.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Kharkiv map

Talks to evacuate 500 wounded, medics from Azovstal: official

Ukrainian officials are negotiating the possibility of evacuating hundreds of wounded servicemen and medical workers from the besieged Azovstal factory in Mariupol.

“We’re in talks about a possible second phase of humanitarian operations to save the healthcare workers and wounded, some 500 people,” Tetiana Lomakina, who coordinates humanitarian efforts at the presidential administration, said in televised remarks.

She said the talks also involve “green corridors” to evacuate thousands of civilians from the Azov Sea port, mostly elderly, women and children.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.Mini map showing Mariupol's location within Ukraine

Russian court fines Radio Liberty nearly $200,000 over ‘fakes’: Interfax

A Moscow court has fined the United States-backed broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) 12.8 million roubles ($196,621) for not deleting what Russia calls “fake” content about its operation in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency reports.

Russia’s communications watchdog blocked websites of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and some other foreign media in early March.

Pussy Riot member faces jail after burning Putin’s effigy: Report

A member of Pussy Riot, the Russian female punk rock band, has reportedly been charged with “desecrating” the Russian flag after burning an effigy of Putin.

Wrapped in the white-blue-and-red banner, the figure was burned in late March in ex-Soviet Georgia as part of the band’s Shrovetide performance protesting Moscow’s offensive.

Anna Kuzminykh, 27, a filmmaker and one of the band’s newest members, was charged on Wednesday and faces up to a year in jail, the Ostorojno Novosti Telegram channel, which often posts leaks from Russian officials and law enforcement agencies, reported.

It was not immediately clear whether she is currently in Russia.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Germany’s Scholz pushes for Ukraine ceasefire in call with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged Putin to agree to a ceasefire in Ukraine as soon as possible during a telephone call, according to a government spokesperson.

A truce was needed to improve the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and allow progress in finding a diplomatic solution for the conflict, the Reuters news agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.

During the 75-minute call, Scholz reminded Putin of Russia’s responsibility for the global food situation, the spokesperson added.

Russia expels 10 Romanian diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Russia has expelled 10 Romanian diplomats in response to similar expulsions by Bucharest.

Moscow’s foreign ministry added that it rejected Romanian attempts to blame Russia for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

In a separate statement, the ministry said a member of the Bulgarian embassy was also being expelled.

Read more here.

Zelenskyy says he is ready for Putin talks

Zelenskyy has said that he is ready to hold face-to-face talks with Putin over ending the war.

“I am ready to talk to Putin, but only to him. Without any of his intermediaries. And in the framework of dialogue, not ultimatums,” he told Italian broadcaster Rai 1.

But Zelenskyy also warned that the chance of any such discussions being held was becoming increasingly “complicated”.

“It is because every day small towns are being de-occupied, and we see the traces of harassment, torture, executions left by Russian military. That is why the possibility of talks gets complicated,” he said.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia lost 200 planes, almost 27,000 servicemen: Ukraine’s military

Moscow’s losses amounted to 26,900 soldiers, including some 250 in the past 24 hours, according to Ukraine’s military.

Since the invasion began on February 24, Russian forces have also lost 200 planes, 162 helicopters, 1,205 tanks and 2,900 armoured vehicles, the General Staff of Armed Forces claimed on Facebook.

The biggest losses occurred around the city of Kurakhove in the southeastern Donetsk region, where Moscow focused its offensive after withdrawing forces from around Kyiv and northern Ukraine, it said.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

‘Long-term’ phase of war ahead: defence minister

Ukraine’s defence minister has said that Kyiv has thwarted Moscow’s plans to destroy Ukrainian statehood – but a “long-term” phase of the war lies ahead.

Putin planned to report a major triumph on May 9, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s 1945 capitulation, Oleksii Reznikov said. However, Kyiv’s fierce resistance led to Russia’s “strategic defeat” and withdrawal from Kyiv and northern Ukraine, he added.

“We are entering a new – long-term – phase of the war. To win it, we need to carefully plan resources, avoid mistakes, and project our strength so that in the end, the enemy fails,” Reznikov said.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

First war crimes trial against a Russian soldier kicks off in Ukraine

The first war crimes trial of a Russian soldier since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has opened in Kyiv.

A 21-year-old captured member of a Russian tank unit is accused of shooting to death a 62-year-old civilian during the war’s first week.

Scores of journalists packed inside a small courtroom in the Ukrainian capital where suspect Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin appeared in a small glass cage.

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin on trial in Kyiv
Russian Army Sergeant Shishimarin is accused of shooting to death a 62-year-old civilian [Efrem Lukatsky/AP]

Vatican number two says giving Ukraine weapons legitimate

The Vatican’s number two has said supplying weapons to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russian aggression is morally legitimate under certain conditions, citing the Catholic Church’s teaching on “just war”.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Rome, saying: “There is a right to armed defence in the case of aggression.”

He said the right was enshrined in the Roman Catholic Church Catechism, or book of teachings, under certain conditions.

Shelling-caused fire kills three in Kharkiv region

A fire caused by Russian shelling engulfed a hangar in the northeastern Kharkiv region, killing three and wounding five people, according to emergency officials.

The fire started in the village of Shebelynka south of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and took three hours to extinguish, the regional emergency services said on Facebook.

Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian troops from most of the Kharkiv region after weeks of intense fighting.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Another ‘disaster’ looms in Mariupol: Official

In their efforts to create an “illusion of improvements” in Mariupol, Russia’s forces are creating a new “humanitarian disaster”, a Ukrainian official has said.

Moscow’s troops partially restored the water supply in the city, but water leaking from damaged pipes will mix with sewage and breed infections, Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, said on Telegram.

Because weeks of shelling destroyed sewage treatment plants in the southeastern port city it is likely sewage will be discharged directly into the Sea of Azov, he said.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

A grave, in front of destroyed apartment blocks, of a civilian killed in the southern port city of Mariupol. Grave board reads: 'Kolesnikov Anatoly Ivanovich', 1957.04.08 - 2022.10.03
A grave, in front of destroyed apartment blocks, of a civilian killed in the southern port city of Mariupol [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Ukrainian court to hear first war crimes case against Russian soldier

A Ukrainian court is expected to begin hearing the first war crimes case arising from Russia’s February 24 invasion after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian.

The Kyiv government has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes and accused Kyiv of staging them.

The Kyiv district court’s website identified the soldier on trial as Vadim Shishimarin and said he was accused of “violations of the laws and norms of war”.

Russian mortars killed 37 civilians north of Kyiv in March: Report

Russian forces killed at least 37 Ukrainian civilians who tried to flee the occupants in the villages north of Kyiv throughout March, the Wall Street Journal reports.

They were mostly killed on a 6.5km-long (4 miles) stretch of road between the villages of Motyzhin and Yasnohorodka, which were occupied in March, the video report released on Thursday said.

After analysing dashboard camera footage, locations of Russian forces, and interviewing survivors and police, the WSJ concluded that most of the fleeing civilians were killed by mortar fire.

China says confidence in UN rights body after Russia vote

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has said that a decision by the UN Human Rights Council to set up an investigation into alleged human rights abuses by Russian troops shook members’ trust in the body.

The UN Human Rights Council resolution to set up the investigation passed on Thursday by a strong majority, with 33 members voting in favour and two – China and Eritrea – against.

Zhao said during a press briefing that China’s objection was due to the UN failing to look at some countries that wage war, while choosing to target others.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian speaks during a media briefing.
Zhao says the UN fails to look at some countries that wage war, while choosing to target others [File: AP Photo]

Russian gas nominations for Slovakia rise: Data

Daily nominations for Russian gas deliveries to Slovakia via Ukraine have risen, according to data from Slovakian operator TSO Eustream.

Nominations via the Velke Kapusany border point rose to about 946,741 megawatt hours (MWh) per day, versus 625,135MWh per day on Thursday, the data showed.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said it continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine at the Sudzha entry point, with volumes on Friday seen at 61.97 million cubic metres (mcm), compared with 50.6mcm on Thursday.

Gazprom: Gas transit via Ukraine at 61.97 mcm

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said it continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine at the Sudzha entry point, with volumes seen at 61.97mcm, compared with 50.6mcm on Thursday.

The application for gas supply via the Sokhranovka entry point was rejected by Ukraine, Gazprom said.

Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter on Wednesday after Kyiv halted the use of the Sokhranovka route.

Pipework at a gas pre-treatment unit at the Gazprom PJSC Chayandinskoye oil, gas and condensate field, a resource base for the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, in the Lensk district of the Sakha Republic, Russia
Pipework at a gas pre-treatment unit at a Gazprom  oil, gas and condensate field in the Lensk district of the Sakha Republic, Russia [File: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg]

Russian forces attacking Azovstal to trap Ukrainian fighters: Army

Ukraine’s military says Russian forces have continued to launch artillery and air raids on the embattled port of Mariupol, focusing on blocking Ukrainian fighters at their last holdout at the Azovstal steelworks.

In its daily operational note on Friday, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also said Russian forces have staged assaults on multiple villages in eastern Ukraine as they try to expand control there, but not all were successful.

Russian forces targeted villages near Donetsk, Lyman, Bakhmut and Kurakhiv as well, the Ukrainian military said.

The update added that Russian forces are transferring additional artillery units to border areas near Ukraine’s northern Chernihiv region, where deadly Russian attacks hit a school and dormitory on Thursday.

Russian soldier to stand trial for war crime on Friday

A Russian soldier is scheduled to go on trial on Friday for killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian.

Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin stands accused of shooting the 62-year-old man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. He faces up to life in prison under the penalties spelled out in the section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.

Shyshimarin’s lawyer, Victor Ovsyanikov, acknowledged that the case against him is strong, but said the final decision over what evidence to allow will be made by the court in Kyiv. Ovsyanikov said that he and his client had not yet decided how he will plead.

The trial marks the first time since the start of the invasion that a member of the Russian military will be prosecuted for a war crime.

One quarter of Russians use VPN to access blocked sites: Study

One quarter of Russians use a VPN to access Facebook and Instagram, which have been blocked in Russia, a study has found, Moscow state news agency TASS reports.

“Nearly a third of respondents (30%) have reduced their visits to these [Instagram and Facebook] services due to the need to use a VPN. At the same time, 26% have not stopped using Facebook, Instagram and other blocked services because their use is not prohibited by law,” the study said.

Russia has blocked Instagram because it is owned by Meta, which Moscow has officially designated as an extremist organisation.

Shelling killed two people in Luhansk: Governor

Shelling of residential areas across Luhansk has killed two people and destroyed nearly 60 homes, the region’s governor has said.

“Seven high-rise buildings were damaged in Severodonetsk, one in Lysychansk,” Serhey Haidai wrote on Telegram, adding that Popasna and Gorsky were the worst affected. More than 50 houses have been destroyed in villages across these areas, he said.

Haidai said a man from Lysychansk and a boy from Zolote died.

“A destroyed bridge, which was the first to be rebuilt in the Luhansk region after the occupiers were expelled in 2014, is no longer a transport link between Severodonetsk and Rubizhne,” he added.

A child's bed inside an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region
A child’s bed inside an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, May 12, 2022 [Andriy Andriyenko/AP]

Ukrainian forces prevented attempted Russian river crossing in Donbas: UK

Russian troops are putting “significant effort” into the area around Izyum and Severodonetsk to finally break through to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry has said.

“The primary objective on this axis is to envelop Ukrainian forces in the Joint Forces Operation area, isolating them from support or reinforcement by units in the west of the country,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

It also said Ukrainian forces successfully prevented a river crossing in the Donbas by the Russians, who incurred some losses during the attempt.

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky manoeuvre and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the ministry added.

Risk of a ‘lost generation’: UK Diplomat

The UK’s ambassador to the UN has said that Ukraine faces a real risk of a “lost generation”.

Barbara Woodward told the UN Security Council there is already evidence Russia is committing four of the Council’s six grave violations against children in times of war.

She said children in Ukraine have been killed and maimed, schools and nurseries have been targeted across the country, there are credible allegations of sexual violence against children by Russian forces, and there are continuing reports of forced deportations.

“There is now a very real risk of a lost generation, and the continuation of a cycle of violence, caused by Russia’s invasion and the devastation it has created,” Woodward said.

Ukraine war a ‘child rights crisis’: UNICEF

The war in Ukraine is a “child rights crisis” where education is under attack, nearly 100 youngsters have been killed in just the last month, and millions more have been forced to flee their homes, the UN children’s agency has said.

Omar Abdi, deputy executive director of UNICEF, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that children are paying “an unconscionably high price” in the war, with 239 confirmed killed and 355 wounded since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. He said the actual numbers are much higher.

Abdi said the school year came to a standstill after Russia invaded its smaller neighbour, and as of last week at least 15 of 89 UNICEF-supported schools in the country’s east had been damaged or destroyed in the fighting.

“Hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, airstrikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas, while other schools are being used as information centres, shelters, supply hubs, or for military purposes – with long-term impact on children’s return to education,” Abdi said.

A boy from Siversk looks though the window of a bus during evacuation near Lyman, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 11, 2022
A boy from Siversk looks through the window of a bus during evacuation near Lyman, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 11, 2022 [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

G7 meeting to focus on food security, Moldova

Foreign ministers from the G7 will discuss how to alleviate food security concerns when they meet in Germany on Friday, as fears mount that the war between Russia and Ukraine could further destabilise Moldova.

The annual meeting running until Saturday brings together top diplomats from the UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the US and the European Union, to the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus.

Talks are set to be dominated by Ukraine and how to manage the consequences of a conflict that could drag on for months, if not longer.

The Ukrainian and Moldovan foreign ministers are also attending on Friday with the West’s most industrialised nations set to reaffirm their support for the two countries.

EU’s Michel says global security under nuclear threat

The president of the European Council, who is visiting Japan’s Hiroshima, the first city to suffer an atomic bombing, has said that global security was under threat from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s recent missile test.

Charles Michel said the nuclear memorial city of Hiroshima is “a stark reminder of the urgency” to strengthen international rules for nuclear disarmament and arms control.

“As we speak, global security is under threat. Russia, a nuclear armed state … is attacking the sovereign nation of Ukraine, while making shameful and unacceptable references to the use of nuclear weapons,” Michel said in his speech.

Russian ship likely damaged but has not sunk: Official

An adviser to Ukraine’s president has said that Moscow’s navy logistics ship, Vsevolod Bobrov, was carrying an air defence system from Russia’s northern fleet to Zmeiny (Snake) Island when Ukraine allegedly struck it.

Oleksiy Arestovych told former Russian lawyer and politician Mark Feygin on his YouTube show that the ship was seriously damaged but was not believed to have sunk.

There has been no confirmation from Russia and no reports of casualties.

Satellite images show probable attacks on Russian Black Sea vessel

Satellite images have emerged that reportedly show the aftermath of what were probable missile attacks on a Russian Serna-class landing craft near Snake island, close to Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.

Ukraine said earlier that the Russian navy logistics ship, Vsevolod Bobrov, had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details.

Images, taken by US-based private company Maxar Technologies, also showed recent damage to buildings on the island.

A satellite image shows a Serna-class landing craft and possible missile contrail near Snake Island.
A satellite image shows a Serna-class landing craft and possible missile contrail near Snake Island, Ukraine May 12, 2022 [Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS]

Six injured in central city of Cherkasy: Police

A cruise missile damaged a two-story building in the centre of the town of Cherkasy, in central Ukraine, the country’s police have reported.

The report said that according to the head of the community, Andriy Holovash, six people in the building were injured and one had to be taken to western Ukraine for treatment.

A crowd of residents had also gathered to receive their pension near where the missile hit, but none of them was injured, the report said.

Russians find flying ever more turbulent

Airspace closed, Western-made aircraft at risk of repossession, no Visa or Mastercard; flying outside the country has become increasingly difficult for Russians.

Some, like academic Mishaa who left because of fears of martial law, have flown to former Soviet states paying many times more than they would have done before the invasion of Ukraine. Those looking to go further afield are taking circuitous routes usually via Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Read more on that story here.

INTERACTIVE Where are Russians flying to?
(Al Jazeera)


Families of Azovstal fighters plead for help

The families of the Ukrainian fighters desperately defending Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant are demanding more be done to save them.

The Reuters news agency says a group of relatives and supporters marched through central Kyiv on Thursday.

“The conditions they are in are horrible,” Mariupol resident Alina Nesterenko, who was at the demonstration told Reuters. “I have no words to describe them. That’s why we are here. We are begging, we are pleading in every possible way, we are asking for our loved ones to be saved.”

Kyiv says new talks are underway with Moscow to rescue the most badly wounded servicemen, and that the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN were also involved.

“We want a document signed on how an evacuation would take place at Azovstal,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told 1+1 television, adding that Turkey – which has offered to host talks between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine – was also acting as an intermediary.

Women, some with the Ukraine flag tied around their shoulders, march to call for the rescue of the soldiers remaining at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol
Relatives of the Ukrainian forces still in the Azovstal plant marched in Kyiv on Thursday to demand more be done to help them [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Russian forces likely control all of Rubizhne: Think tank

Russian forces likely control all of Rubizhne as of Thursday and have likely seized the town of Voevodivka, north of Severodonetsk, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

“They will likely launch a ground offensive on or around Severodonetsk in the coming days,” the institute said in its latest campaign assessment.

“The relative success of Russian operations in this area combined with their failure to advance from Izium and the notable decline in the energy of that attempted advance suggest that they may be giving up on the Izium axis,” it added.

Finland and Sweden will be ‘targets’ as NATO members: Russian diplomat

Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, and the deployment of allied units on their territory, will make them possible targets for Russia, Moscow’s representative to the UN has said.

“They know that the moment they become members of NATO it will imply certain mirror moves on the Russian side,” Dmitry Polyansky said in a video interview with online publication UnHerd.

“If there are NATO detachments in those territories, these territories would become a target – or a possible target – for a strike.”

“They were living normally as good neighbours with us for tens of years; if they suddenly choose to become part of a very unfriendly bloc, it’s up to them,” Polyansky said. 

Alternatives to European integration ‘unacceptable’ for Ukraine: Official

Proposals on alternatives to European integration are “unacceptable” for Ukraine, the head of Zelenskyy’s office has said.

Andriy Yermak told an online meeting with European officials that Ukraine’s cooperation with the EU during the period of Russia’s invasion proves the country is already part of the European team. He said Ukraine was determined to continue the integration process.

“Ukraine must become part of a united Europe as soon as possible. This is a matter of mutual security,” he added.

US Republican senator delays passage of $40bn Ukraine aid bill

Republican US Senator Rand Paul has defied leaders of both major parties and single-handedly delayed the approval of an additional $40bn in American aid to Ukraine.

With the Senate poised to debate and vote on the package of military and economic aid, Paul denied leaders the unanimous agreement they needed to proceed.

The legislation has been approved overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, but without all 100 senators on board, the bill must follow a lengthy legislative process in the upper chamber.

Paul is demanding that the legislation be altered to require an inspector general to oversee spending on Ukraine. “This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first,” Paul said before formally blocking the aid package. “Congress just wants to keep on spending, and spending.”

Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul has single-handedly denied swift passage to $40bn Ukraine aid bill [File: Shawn Thew/Pool via AP]

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of ‘barbarity’

Zelenskyy has said Russian forces hit schools in attacks in the Chernihiv region.

“Of course, the Russian state is in such a state that any education only gets in its way. But what can be achieved by destroying Ukrainian schools? All Russian commanders who give such orders are simply sick, and incurable,” he said.

Zelenskyy added that since the invasion began, the Russian military had damaged 570 medical facilities, fully destroying 101 hospitals.

“What is that? It’s stupidity. It’s barbarity. It’s the self-destruction of Russia as a state that anyone in the world could see as a cultured nation,” he said.

Zelenskyy says he is ready for talks with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he is ready to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that “we must find an agreement”, but with no ultimatum as a condition.

Zelenskyy told Italian RAI state TV in an interview scheduled for broadcast on Thursday night that Ukraine will never recognise Crimea as part of Russia.

“Crimea has always had its autonomy, it has its parliament, but on the inside of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in excerpts of the interview that RAI released.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine will never recognise Crimea as part of Russia [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Rocket attacks intensify on central Poltava region: Governor

Rocket attacks on Ukraine’s central Poltava region have been “perhaps the most intense for the duration of the war”, the regional governor has said.

“[Thursday’s] shelling of the Poltava region is perhaps the largest during the course of this full-scale war,” Dmitry Lunin wrote in a Telegram post. “12 Russian missiles hit the infrastructure in [the city of] Kremenchuk; most of them hit an oil refinery that was not operational anyway.”

Lunin added: “Rescuers are putting out a fire at the refinery. Luckily, no one was hurt.”

Ukraine warns against involvement in sale of ‘stolen’ grain

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that everyone involved in the transportation and sale of grain seized by Russia in occupied areas of the country will face legal consequences.

“I want to remind the participants in this deal: what is stolen has never brought happiness to anyone. Everyone involved in the sale, transportation or purchase of stolen grain is an accomplice to the crime,” ministry’s press service quoted Dmytro Kuleba as saying.

Ukrainian officials said earlier this week that a Russian ship carrying seized Ukrainian grain had reached the Mediterranean Sea with Syria as its likely destination.

Two civilians killed in attack near Kharkiv, says local official

At least two civilians have died as a result of a shelling attack on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, local authorities have said.

“As a result of the shelling, two people were killed, four more were injured, two of whom are doctors. All these people are civilians,” Vyacheslav Zadorenko, the mayor of the suburban town of Derhachi, wrote in a Telegram post.

He added that the attack also damaged a building housing a humanitarian aid unit, municipal offices and hospital facilities.

Student dies in shelling on Russian village: Report

A student at a construction college in the Russian village of Solokhi near the border with Ukraine has died as a result of a shelling attack, a teacher at the college has told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“Russian Nifodyov died as a result of the shelling of the peaceful village of Solokhi by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Nikolai Ignatenko was cited as saying.

Earlier, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, where Solokhi is located, said that at least one civilian had been killed in the shelling, while six more were injured. Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov likewise blamed the attack on Kyiv’s forces, but it was not immediately clear whether the slain civilian he referred to was Nifodyov.

White House backs any move by Finland and Sweden to join NATO

The White House has said it would support any move by Finland and Sweden to join NATO in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We would support a NATO application by Finland and/or Sweden should they apply. We would respect any decision they make,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Ukraine says its forces damaged Russian navy ship in Black Sea

Ukrainian forces have damaged a modern Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, setting it on fire, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration in southern Ukraine has said.

Spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said in an online post that the Vsevolod Bobrov had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details.

The tiny island is located near Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.

More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine, UN says

More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, United Nations refugee agency data shows.

A total of 6,029,705 people had fled the country as of May 11, the agency said.

Many have gone to neighbouring countries, according to the agency’s dedicated website, with Poland hosting the largest number of people.

Ukrainian refugee
An elderly Ukrainian woman at a facility housing Ukrainian refugees in Chisinau, Moldova, on May 10 [File: Aurel Obreja/AP Photo]

Canada to deploy military general, officers to new NATO unit in Latvia

Canada will deploy a general and six staff officers to a new NATO unit in Latvia that will help plan, coordinate and integrate regional military activities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

The general and staff officers will “be part of a first of its kind unit”, Trudeau told reporters at a joint news conference with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. “It’ll serve as a continued important part of our enhancements to NATO’s defence and deterrence capabilities.”

Canada has almost 700 members of its armed forces deployed in Latvia, a small Baltic state that shares a border with Russia. Karins welcomed Canada’s participation in a new “multi-divisional headquarters” there.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Thursday, May 12 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies