Ukraine latest updates: Kyiv says invasion in most active phase

Ukraine news from May 24: Defence ministry says battles being fought in eastern Ukraine could determine the country’s fate.

A local woman looks at an apartment building damaged by a Russian military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Vuhledar, in Donetsk region, Ukraine [Anna Kudriavtseva/Reuters]
  • At the World Economic Forum in Davos, European Union and NATO leaders slam Russia and urge countries to pull back from trade with Moscow.
  • Kyiv appeals to allies for more heavy weaponry and warns of a “ruthless” battle in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
  • A Ukrainian official says rescue workers digging through rubble in Ukraine’s ruined southeastern port city of Mariupol have discovered 200 bodies.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 90

Here are all the latest updates:

This live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us.

Follow our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine on our new blog.

These were the updates on Tuesday, May 24:

Situation in Ukraine’s Luhansk worse ‘with every hour’: governor

The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region has said that the situation there was worsening “with every hour” as advancing Russian troops seize more territory and “completely destroy” a key city.

“The situation is very difficult and unfortunately it is only getting worse. It is getting worse with every day and even with every hour,” governor Serhiy Haidai said in a video on Telegram.

“Shelling is increasing more and more. The Russian army has decided to completely destroy [key city] Severodonetsk.”

Ukraine says at least 14 civilians killed in Russian attacks in east

Ukraine’s military said Russian troops had killed at least 14 civilians and injured 15 more during mass attacks in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the focus of Moscow’s latest offensive.

In a Facebook post, it said Russian troops had used aircraft, multiple rocket launchers, artillery, tanks, mortars and missiles in their assault on the two regions, large parts of which are controlled by Russian-speaking separatists.

INSIDE STORY: Has Russia achieved its war objectives in Ukraine?

Three months into Russia’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine, the invasion appears to be turning into a drawn-out war.

Leaders from both sides say they are far from any talk of a ceasefire.

Is the continued conflict complicating efforts to find a diplomatic solution?

Watch here.

Former German Chancellor Schroeder says he rejected Gazprom board nomination

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder had rejected his nomination to the supervisory board of Kremlin-controlled gas giant Gazprom, he said.

“I gave up my nomination to Gazprom’s Supervisory Board a long time ago. I have reported this to the company as well,” Schroder wrote on his LinkedIn account.

US says ending Russia debt payment exemption

The United States will end an exemption allowing Moscow to pay its foreign debts with dollars held in Russia as of midnight Wednesday, the US Treasury has announced, a move that could push Vladimir Putin’s country closer to default.

The exemption to the drastic financial sanctions imposed on Moscow ends on Wednesday, two days before Russia’s next debt service payment is due.

Premier League approves proposed takeover of Chelsea

The Boehly-Clearlake consortium, which agreed on terms to acquire Chelsea Football Club for 4.25 billion pounds ($5.33bn) earlier this month, passed the Premier League Owners’ and Directors’ Test, the league has said, paving the way for the club’s takeover.

The United Kingdom government is set to approve the sale after Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich gave assurances he will not benefit from the deal, a source familiar with the situation told the Reuters news agency.

Russian parliament passes bill allowing Moscow to close Western news bureaus

Russia’s parliament has passed a bill giving prosecutors powers to shut foreign media bureaus in Moscow if a Western country has been “unfriendly” to Russian media, following the closure of some Russian state news outlets in the West.

The bill, passed in the first reading by the lower house of parliament, or Duma, also prohibits the distribution of articles or other materials from media that have been closed by the prosecutor’s office. It needs to undergo two more readings, be reviewed by the upper house of parliament, and signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.

Hungary imposes state of emergency due to Ukraine war

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has imposed a new state of emergency in the country, citing the challenges posed by the ongoing war in neighbouring Ukraine.

Hungary is already under a state of emergency, linked to the COVID pandemic, which was due to expire next Tuesday.

Battles in east could decide Ukraine’s fate, Kyiv says

Battles being fought in eastern Ukraine could determine the country’s fate, Ukrainian Defence Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk has said.

Three months after invading Ukraine, Russian forces are trying to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin cities straddling the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine. Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had not given up attempts to cross the river.

“Now we are observing the most active phase of the full-scale aggression which Russia unfolded against our country,” he told a televised briefing.

“The situation on the [eastern] front is extremely difficult, because the fate of this country is perhaps being decided [there] right now.”

Canada buys ammunition from US to send to Ukraine

Canada has purchased 20,000 artillery rounds of NATO standard ammunition for Ukraine to support it in its defence against Russia’s invasion, Defence Minister Anita Anand has said.

The ammunition was bought from the US for about 98 million Canadian dollars ($76.4m) and would soon be delivered to Ukraine.

Russia bans entry to 154 members of UK’s House of Lords

Russia’s foreign ministry says Moscow has imposed an entry ban on 154 members of the United Kingdom Parliament’s House of Lords in retaliation for sanctions against Russian senators.

The ministry said the decision was taken “on a reciprocal basis” in response to the imposition of sanctions in March by London on almost all the members of Russia’s Federation Council, its upper house of parliament.

Those targeted by Moscow included William Hague, a former foreign minister and leader of the Conservative Party.

Not included on the list was the Russian-born newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev, who was controversially granted a peerage by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government in 2020. Lebedev, who owns the London Evening Standard and Independent newspapers, has denounced Moscow’s offensive.

‘Criminal adventure’: Ukraine war fuels Russia’s brain drain

Nearly four million people left Russia in the first three months of 2022, including IT specialists, journalists, researchers and analysts, as the country faced increasing diplomatic and economic pressure from Western powers over its offensive in Ukraine.

Read more here.

Separatist leader says foreign representatives to be invited to Azovstal fighters’ trial: Report

The leader of a breakaway region in eastern Ukraine has said that foreign representatives, including Western officials, will be invited to a trial of Ukrainian fighters being held there, according to a report by Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Prosecutors in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic are currently working with Moscow on the composition of a tribunal to try the fighters who surrendered at Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steelworks, Interfax quoted Denis Pushilin as saying.

Russia says it has completed demining of Azov Sea port of Mariupol

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have completed removing mines in the Azov Sea port of Mariupol.

Mines have been removed from the territory of the port and nearby waters, the ministry said in a statement.

Russia said it had established full control of Mariupol last week after Ukrainian fighters surrendered at the Azovstal plant, where they had held out for many weeks.

Mini map showing Mariupol's location within Ukraine

Hungary’s Orban says oil embargo should not be discussed at upcoming EU summit

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has written to the president of the European Council to tell him that proposed EU sanctions on Russia, including an oil embargo, should not be discussed at next week’s summit of the bloc’s leaders.

Orban said in the May 23 letter sent to Charles Michel and obtained by the Reuters news agency that it was unlikely a solution to disagreements over the suggested measures could be found by the upcoming meeting.

He added that Hungary was not in a position to agree to the proposed EU sanctions until all outstanding issues are resolved.

Full cost of rebuilding Ukraine impossible to quantify: German minister

German’s finance minister says it is impossible to judge how much it would cost to rebuild Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

Speaking after a meeting of EU finance ministers, Christian Lindner added that providing reconstruction aid to Kyiv was not just the responsibility of Europe, but also of international bodies.

A local resident walks by a destroyed building after a rocket attack on a university campus, amid Russia's invasion, in Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region
Vast swaths of Ukraine’s infrastructure has been damaged or outright destroyed amid Russia’s offensive [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Ukraine war: Poland’s Duda warns of migration ‘problems’

Poland’s president has warned of mass migration to Europe, if the war in Ukraine causes food shortages in North Africa.

Read more here.

Russia and China hold joint military exercise in East Asia

Russian and Chinese military planes have conducted joint exercises in the Asia-Pacific region, Russia’s defence ministry says, in a pointed farewell to US President Joe Biden as he concluded an Asia trip that rankled Beijing.

The joint patrol lasted 13 hours over the Japanese and East China seas and involved Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers and Chinese Xian H-6 jets, the ministry said in a statement. Planes from the Japanese and South Korean air forces shadowed the Russian and Chinese jets for part of the exercise, it added.

China’s defence ministry confirmed the joint aerial patrol over the Sea of Japan, East China Sea and the Western Pacific and called it part of an annual military exercise.

The move marks the first joint military exercise by China and Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed US official.

India says Quad countries understand its position on Ukraine

India’s foreign minister says that the leaders of the other members of the Quad group of countries understood its position on Russia when they met in Tokyo.

“There was a general and good appreciation of the position that India has taken with regard to Ukraine,” Vinay Mohan Kwatra told reporters in the Japanese capital.

Kwatra said India wants an immediate end to hostilities and diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the crisis. India is the only member of the Quad – which also includes the United States, Japan and Australia – to not have condemned the actions of Russia.

Read more on the summit here.

Will Turkey block Finland and Sweden from becoming NATO members?

Sweden and Finland began their NATO membership application processes earlier this month, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that he opposed the move.

Ankara is out of step with the rest of the alliance’s member states, which have backed NATO expansion as Russia’s war on Ukraine rages.

Ultimately, all 30 members must vote unanimously in favour of the historically neutral Nordic nations if they are to join the Washington-led group, so Turkey could – in theory – block an application.

Read more here.

On South Africa visit, Germany’s Scholz says it is ‘unacceptable’ to side with Russia over war

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said during a visit to South Africa that it is “unacceptable” that some countries have sided with Russia over its offensive in Ukraine.

“There are some countries that have voted on the side of Russia. That, I cannot accept and it is unacceptable,” Scholz told a joint news conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria.

For his part, Ramaphosa said that “bystander countries” were suffering due to sanctions against Russia and called for talks as the African Union (AU) prepared a mission to foster dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv

South Africa abstained in March from a United Nations resolution condemning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and Ramaphosa has previously blamed NATO for not heeding warnings from Moscow about its eastward expansion prior to the Kremlin launching the offensive.

Europe needs talks with Russia over Ukrainian food exports: Von der Leyen

Europe needs to seek talks with Russia over the possibility of reviving the exports of wheat and other food supplies out of Ukraine in order to prevent a global food crisis, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says.

“It can’t be in Russia’s interests that because of Russia people are dying of hunger in the world,” von der Leyen told the Reuters news agency at the World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering in Davos.

“Therefore, I think we should first of all look at the dialogue with Russia, whether there is not an agreement that this wheat gets out of Ukraine.”


Don’t trade your security for economic benefits, NATO chief tells Davos summit

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned world leaders gathered at the WEF meeting against pursuing economic benefits at the expense of their own security.

“Freedom is more important than free trade,” Stoltenberg said, before referring specifically to debates over the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for Russian gas.

Germany halted the pipeline project when Russia formally recognised two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine as independent, days before it launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

“This idea that we should have free trade in natural gas, meaning we can buy as much gas from Russia as we want, that’s wrong, it’s dangerous,” Stoltenberg said.

“It provides Russia with a tool to intimidate and to use against us, and that has been clearly demonstrated now, I regret to say,” he added.

Ukrainian official says 200 bodies found in Mariupol

An adviser to Mariupol’s mayor says rescue workers digging through rubble in the ruined southeastern port city have discovered 200 bodies.

The bodies were found in the basement of a collapsed apartment building and were in a state of decomposition, Petro Andryushchenko said.

Mariupol, which Moscow has now claimed full control over, has witnessed some of the most intense fighting of the war.

There was no immediate response to Andryushchenko’s claim from Moscow, and Al Jazeera could not independently verify his report.

Moscow has not seen Italian peace plan for Ukraine: Kremlin spokesman

Russia has not yet seen an Italian peace plan for Ukraine, but hopes to receive it through diplomatic channels, the Kremlin’s spokesman says.

“We haven’t seen it yet; we hope it will be delivered to us through diplomatic channels and we will familiarise ourselves with it,” Dmitry Peskov said.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio gave the broad outlines of the plan last week and said that he had discussed it with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a visit to New York.

The plan would involve international groups such as the UN, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) which would act as facilitators to organise localised ceasefires initially, Di Maio told a news conference in Italy last Friday.

Kherson a possible template for Russian-occupied areas: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Moscow, says developments in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson are “showing what things could look like” in the future in other parts of the country controlled by Moscow’s forces.

“According to the deputy head of the Russia-backed administration that has been put in place in Kherson, there is a request to have a Russian military base be permanently stationed in that area,” Jabbari said.

“Allegedly, they [the Russia-backed administration] want to be able to have their own security, under Russia’s control,” she added.

“[And] as of Monday the Russian currency – the rouble – is now being used in Kherson, the Russian language has been recognised as one of the official languages in the region, alongside Ukrainian.”

Russia claims it is slowing offensive to allow for evacuations: Report

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency has quoted the country’s defence minister as saying that Moscow is deliberately slowing its offensive in Ukraine in order to allow civilians to evacuate.

“Ceasefires are being declared and humanitarian corridors are being created in order to get people out of the surrounded settlements. Of course, this slows down the pace of the offensive, but this is done deliberately to avoid casualties among the civilian population,” RIA quoted Sergei Shoigu as saying.

Speaking at a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of Russia and five other former Soviet republics, Shoigu also claimed that Russian forces had not attacked civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

Kyiv has repeatedly accused Moscow of targeting non-combatants during the conflict.

Situation ‘perilous and unpredictable’ throughout Ukraine: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, reporting from Kyiv, says the situation remains “perilous and unpredictable” throughout Ukraine, including in the capital.

“Even though things are [generally] calm here, just a few minutes ago the air raid warning siren went off once again,” Basravi said.

“It is a daily occurrence but not something to take lightly – just last week there was another missile strike within Kyiv’s city limits,” he added.

Mini map showing Kyiv's location within Ukraine

Ukrainian deputy PM says decision on EU candidacy expected next month

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration says the decision on her country’s status as a candidate for membership in the European Union should be made next month.

“As politicians, we must find a way for Ukraine to truly become part of this family, both economically and politically,” Olga Stefanishyna told reporters in Paris.

Stefanishyna met with French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune to discuss sanctions against Russia, military and humanitarian aid as well as further steps on the formalisation of Ukraine’s application to join the 27-member bloc.

Finland and Sweden to send delegations to Ankara: Finnish foreign minister

Finland and Sweden will send delegations to Ankara on Wednesday to try to resolve Turkish opposition to their applications for membership in the NATO military alliance, Finland’s foreign minister says.

“We are sending our delegations to visit Ankara, actually both Sweden and Finland. This will happen tomorrow so the dialogue is continuing,” Pekka Haavisto said during a panel discussion at the WEF meeting.

EU chief says Putin must suffer a ‘strategic failure’ in Ukraine

Ursula von der Leyen says Ukraine must win the war it is fighting against Russia, making President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade a “strategic failure”.

Moscow is “treating millions of people not as human beings but as faceless populations to be moved or controlled or set as a buffer between military forces, trying to trample the aspirations of an entire nation with tanks,” the European Commission president told the WEF conference.

“Ukraine must win this war, and Putin’s aggression must be a strategic failure,” she added.

Sweden, Finland to attend upcoming NATO summit in Madrid: Spanish PM

Sweden and Finland will attend the NATO summit in Madrid next month, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has told the WEF’s Davos gathering.

The NATO summit will be held in Madrid on June 28-30.

Jailed Kremlin foe Navalny lambasts Putin’s ‘stupid war’

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has lambasted Putin in a live court hearing, casting him as a madman who had started a “stupid war” in Ukraine based on lies.

“This is a stupid war which your Putin started,” Navalny told an appeal court in Moscow via video link from a corrective penal colony.

“This war was built on lies … One madman has got his claws into Ukraine and I do not know what he wants to do with it – this crazy thief,” he added.

The Moscow court later rejected Navalny’s appeal against a nine-year prison sentence he is serving for alleged fraud and contempt of court – charges he denies as fabricated to thwart his political ambitions.

US ‘confident’ Finland, Sweden will resolve Turkey’s NATO concerns

The US is confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve Turkish concerns over the Nordic countries’ NATO membership bids, its deputy defence secretary says.

“[We are] confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve those [concerns] with the Turks directly,” Kathleen Hicks said while speaking alongside her Norwegian counterpart in Oslo.

INTERACTIVE- NATO history and expansions Fin

Russia not ‘chasing deadlines’ in Ukraine: Official

The secretary of Russia’s Security Council says the country will achieve its objectives in Ukraine and is not “chasing deadlines” there.

“All the goals set by the president will be fulfilled. It cannot be otherwise, because truth, including historical truth, is on our side,” Nikolai Patrushev told Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty.

He also alleged Ukraine was being used by the West to contain Russia, echoing charges laid out by Putin.

“The ideal scenario for the whole of NATO, led by the United States, seems to be an endless simmering conflict,” Patrushev said.

Russia says it struck Ukrainian arms depot

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have struck an arms depot in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas used to store shells for US-produced M777 howitzers, a type of artillery weapon.

Ukraine has deployed many of the M777 howitzers supplied by Washington at the front lines, with the US claiming to have delivered all but one of the 90 artillery pieces they were due to send to Kyiv.

The M777 howitzer consignment is part of a huge outlay of weapons from the White House to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion and is seen as particularly significant because of its long range and accuracy.

There was no immediate response to the claims from Kyiv and Al Jazeera could not independently verify the Russian defence ministry’s report.

Ukraine needs more weapons for ‘ruthless’ Donbas battle: Kuleba

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that the country still does not have all the weapons it needs and that “the Russian offensive in the Donbas is a ruthless battle”.

“I urge partners to speed up the supply of weapons and ammunition, especially MLRS [multiple-launch rocket systems], long-range artillery, APCs [armoured personnel carriers],” Dmytro Kulebo wrote on Twitter.

Quad countries, including India, shared Ukraine concerns: Japan’s PM

Leaders of the Quad grouping of countries, including India’s Modi, shared concerns over the situation in Ukraine at their meeting in Tokyo, the Japanese prime minister has said.

“The four leaders had candid discussion on the impact of the Ukraine situation on the Indo-Pacific region, and we, including India, expressed our concern over the tragic war in Ukraine, and confirmed that principles such as the rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be observed in any region,” Fumio Kishida said.

UK in discussions over how to get grain out of Ukraine: Minister

The United Kingdom is in discussions with Ukraine about how to help get grain out of the country after Russia blocked its main sea ports, its transport secretary says.

Grant Shapps said he was very concerned about the issue – which has seen global food prices soar as Ukraine is unable to export nearly 25 million tonnes of grains – and met Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov last week.

“We were discussing details which I can’t go into but about how infrastructure could be in place to ensure the grain leaves,” he told Sky News.

“We’re looking at all the different options … there are lots of different potential ways to get grain and other goods out of the country,” Shapps added. “It’s absolutely essential that we do, otherwise there could be a lot of hunger and indeed even famine.”

‘Strong views’ on Russia at Quad: Australia’s PM

Australia’s Prime Minister Antony Albanese has said that “strong views” were expressed on Russia in the Quad leaders’ meeting.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Albanese said Russia’s “unilateral” attack on the people of Ukraine was an outrage. “Strong views were expressed in the meeting,” he said.

Philippines’ Duterte rebukes Putin for killings

Outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sharply criticised Putin for the killings of innocent civilians in Ukraine, saying while the two of them have been tagged as killers, “I kill criminals, I don’t kill children and the elderly.”

Duterte, who openly calls Putin an idol and a friend, voiced his rebuke for the first time over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in remarks aired on Tuesday where he blamed the three-month-old war for the spike in global oil prices that has battered many countries, including the Philippines.

While stressing he was not condemning the Russian president, Duterte disagreed with Putin’s labelling of the invasion as a “special military operation,” and said it was really a full-scale war waged against “a sovereign nation”.

Addressing Putin “as a friend” and the Russian embassy in Manila, Duterte urged them to stop bombing and firing artillery rounds on residential areas and allow innocent civilians to safely evacuate before launching a bombardment.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a meeting with government officials at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a meeting with government officials at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Monday May 23, 2022 [King Rodriguez/ Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP]

Russia may face further logistical difficulties in battle for Severodonetsk: UK

While the capture of Severdonetsk in the Luhansk region may be Russia’s main effort at the moment, it is only one part of its campaign to seize the Donbas, the UK’s defence ministry has said.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said that Russia has intensified efforts to encircle Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and Rubizhne, adding that the “northern and southern axes of this operation are separated by approximately 25 km of Ukrainian-held territory”.

“If the Donbas front line moves further west, this will extend Russian lines of communication and likely see its forces face further logistic resupply difficulties,” the ministry said.

Cargoes of Russia’s flagship crude oil at sea climb to record high

Some 62 million barrels of Russia’s flagship Urals crude oil are sitting in vessels at sea, data from energy analytics firm Vortexa has shown, as traders struggled to find buyers for the crude.

The volume of crude oil on the water is triple the pre-war average, Vortexa said, even as Russian seaborne oil exports fell to 6.7 million barrels per day (bpd) so far in May, down about 15 percent from the 7.9 bpd in February.

“The headline numbers, showing Russian exports are still relatively strong, don’t tell the full story,” Houston-based energy strategist Clay Seigle told Reuters. “Russian oil at sea is continuing to accumulate.”

Most barrels of Russian crude oil have headed to Asia, mainly India and China, while volumes to Europe have also ticked up ahead of a ban.

Nationalist Russian groups call for mobilisation: Think-tank

Russian nationalist figures are increasingly criticising the failures of Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and calling for further mobilisation, the Institute for the Study of War has said.

The ISW said that the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, an independent pro-Russian veterans’ association that seeks to reform Russian military strategy, called for Putin to declare war on Ukraine and introduce partial mobilisation in Russia on May 19.

The assembly said that Russia’s operation had failed to achieve its goals in three months. It also appealed to Putin “to recognise that Russian forces are no longer only ‘denazifying’ Ukraine but are fighting a war for Russia’s historic territories and existence in the world order,” the ISW said.

The institute added that while these calls could help set conditions for partial mobilisation, the Kremlin had so far declined to take this step “likely due to concerns over domestic backlash and flaws in Russia’s mobilisation systems”.

Economy grows as priority for Americans on Russia response

Americans are becoming less supportive of punishing Russia for launching its invasion of Ukraine if it comes at the expense of the US economy, a new poll has found.

While broad support for US sanctions has not faltered, the balance of opinion on prioritising sanctions over the economy has shifted, according to the poll from The Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research.

Now 45 percent of US adults say the nation’s bigger priority should be sanctioning Russia as effectively as possible, while slightly more – 51 percent – say it should be limiting damage to the US economy.

In April, those figures were exactly reversed. In March, shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine, a clear majority – 55 percent – said the bigger priority should be sanctioning Russia as effectively as possible.

Ukraine crisis a ‘global issue’: Biden

US President Joe Biden has said that the crisis in Ukraine is a global issue which heightens the importance of maintaining international order, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Biden’s comments delivered at the opening of the “Quad” meeting of Indo-Pacific leaders in Tokyo came a day after he broke with convention and volunteered US military support for Taiwan, the self-governed island claimed by China.

“This is more than just a European issue. It’s a global issue,” Biden said of the crisis in Ukraine at the meeting of the US, Japan, India and Australia. He stressed Washington would stand with its allies and push for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“International law, human rights must always be defended regardless of where they’re violated in the world,” he said.

A boy watches flags honoring soldiers killed fighting Russian troops in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 23, 2022
A boy watches flags honoring soldiers killed fighting Russian troops in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 23, 2022. [Natacha Pisarenko/AP]

Ukraine says it has ‘liberated’ 24 settlements in Kharkiv region

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces has said 24 settlements in the Kharkiv region have been “liberated”.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi said the village of Kutuzovka was among them.

“About 170 local residents lived in the basement of the kindergarten for more than two months. Among them, 40 children aged from three months to 12 years. The Ukrainian military, who liberated the village, provided first aid to the locals, shared with them everything they needed – water, food, clothing,” Zaluzhnyi said in a Facebook post.

Kyiv ready for prisoner exchange with Russia: Zelenskyy

Kyiv is ready for an exchange of prisoners with Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

“The exchange of people – this is a humanitarian matter today and a very political decision that depends on the support of many states,” Zelenskyy said in a question-and-answer video link with audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

He added that Ukraine has involved the United Nations, Switzerland, Israel and “many, many countries”, but the process was very complicated.

“It is important … to pressure politically on any level, through powerful business, through the closure of businesses, oil embargo … and through these threats actively intensify the exchange of our people for Russian servicemen,” Zelesnkyy said.

“We do not need the Russian servicemen, we only need ours. We are ready for an exchange even tomorrow.”

Kherson’s schools and universities will be run in Russian: Moscow-backed official

Russian will become the state language of Kherson, alongside Ukrainian, the Moscow-backed self-proclaimed leader of the regional military administration has said, the Russian state-owned RIA news agency reports.

Kirill Stremousov said schools and universities will be run in Russian but Ukrainian classes could also be formed at the request of parents.

“We will not infringe on anyone’s rights. Plus, we have a large community of Crimean Tatars living in our region. The expediency of giving the status of the state language to the Crimean Tatar language, as is done in Crimea, we will discuss in detail at a meeting with the community,” he said.

Ukraine says 580 foreign companies still doing business in Russia

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that 580 foreign companies remain in Russia, continuing to do business “as usual”.

“That is, they pretend that nothing happened,” Dmytro Kuleba said on Instagram on Monday.

He said Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry sent a request to eight of the largest international corporations to stop working in Russia but had not received a response.

“We cannot order them to come out. But we need to work from different angles,” Kuleba added.

Russian-backed officials plan to install military base in Kherson: RIA

Kherson’s Moscow-backed, self-proclaimed authorities plan to install a Russian military base in the region to “guarantee security”, RIA has reported.

“The Russian army has become the guarantor of peace and security in our region,” said Kirill Stremousov.

Russia claims that Ukrainian troops are shelling the region from the direction of the port city of Mykolaiv and that Ukraine’s government has stopped paying pensions to Kherson’s residents.

Russian occupants have previously said they plan to incorporate the region into Russia.

Putin trying to ‘erase Ukrainian identity’: Blinken

“Part of Putin’s war is an attempt to erase Ukrainian identity,” the US Secretary of State has said.

Antony Blinken told the Ukrainian Institute for America that Ukraine’s identity is “powerfully manifested through its culture”.

“And the vibrancy of that culture, the strength of that identity, makes it crystal clear that there again, President Putin’s war will not succeed,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

US troops could return to Ukraine for embassy security

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley has said that “low-level” discussion is underway on how the US may need to adjust its training of Ukrainian forces and on whether some US troops should be based in Ukraine.

The US withdrew its few troops before the war and has no plans to send in combat forces. Milley’s comments left open the possibility troops could return for embassy security or another non-combat role.

There have been questions about whether Washington will send a Marine security force back in to help protect the reopened embassy in Kyiv, or if other options should be considered.

Asked if US special operations forces may go into Ukraine, which officials have insisted they are not doing yet, Milley said that “any reintroduction of US forces into Ukraine would require a presidential decision. So we’re a ways away from anything like that.”

US weighing how to wean India off Russian supplies

A key question for Biden going into the Quad meetings this week is how to wean India off Russian-supplied military equipment and whether to provide defence aid and other support to New Delhi to accelerate that transition.

“The president is very aware that countries have their own histories, they have their own interests, they have their own outlooks, and the idea is to build on commonalities,” Reuters quoted an unnamed US official as saying.

India frustrated the US with what Washington regarded as a lack of support for sanctions and condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India abstained in US Security Council votes on the issue, though it did raise concerns about some killings of civilians in Ukraine.

New Delhi has a longstanding relationship with Moscow, which remains a major supplier of its defence equipment and oil supplies.

Daily evacuations from Luhansk continue: Governor

The governor of Luhansk says police are continuing daily evacuations and the number of those willing to leave is increasing.

Serhiy Haidai posted a video on Facebook on Monday taken from a vehicle that he said was travelling along a highway near Severodonetsk. The vehicle is racing down the road, dodging debris, mounds of earth, barricades and destroyed vehicles as shells explode in the fields just yards away.

A photo in the post shows about a dozen civilians, with luggage, packed tightly inside what appears to be the back of a vehicle.

Haidai wrote that people “are agreeing to the risk because what is happening in the cities is much worse”.

No country wanted to be first to send Ukraine Harpoons: US official

US officials and congressional sources have told Reuters that just a handful of countries were willing to send Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine.

But a US official said no nation had wanted to be the first or only nation to send Harpoons, fearing reprisals from Russia if a ship is sunk with a Harpoon from their stockpile.

Copenhagen’s pledge of Harpoon missiles and a launcher to Ukraine on Monday is the first sign since the Russian invasion that Kyiv will receive US-made weapons that significantly extend its striking range.

The Harpoons could be used to push the Russian navy away from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, allowing exports of grain and other agricultural products to resume.

The USS Curtis Wilbur launches a Harpoon surface-to-surface missile.
The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur launches a Harpoon surface-to-surface missile during Pacific Vanguard quadrilateral exercises between Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, and US Naval forces in the Philippine Sea on May 26, 2019 [US Navy/Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Toni Burton/Handout via Reuters]

Weapons would have prevented deaths: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that if Ukraine had all the weapons it needed, many people would not have died.

“Every time we tell our partners that we need modern anti-missile weapons, modern combat aircraft, we are not just making a formal request. We say that our request is the real lives of many people who would not have died if we had received all the weapons we are asking for,” he said in his nighttime address.

“All our partners agree that Ukraine’s struggle in the war against Russia is the protection of the common values of all countries in the free world … And if so, then we have the right to count on full and urgent assistance, especially weapons,” he added.

A nurse tends to a patient after he underwent surgery for injuries to his leg and abdomen.
A nurse tends to a patient after he underwent surgery for injuries to his leg and abdomen caused by a mine explosion in Severodonetsk, at Kostyantynivka hospital in eastern Ukraine, Monday, May 23, 2022 [Francisco Seco/AP]

US, UK trade accusations with Russia on disinformation

The US and the United Kingdom have accused Russia of spreading disinformation online and manipulating public opinion about the war in Ukraine, vehemently rejecting Russian claims that the West is aiming to control all information flows and define what is true or not true.

UK Deputy Ambassador James Roscoe told a UN Security Council meeting that Russia has conducted cyberattacks and used “an online troll factory to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion about their war”.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Moscow “continues to shut down, restrict and degrade internet connectivity, censor content, spread disinformation online, and intimidate and arrest journalists for reporting the truth about its invasion”.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused countries that call themselves a “community of democracies” of building “a cyber-totalitarianism” and – along with technology giants like Meta – of shutting down Russian TV channels, expelling Russian journalists and blocking access to Russian websites.

Russia waging ‘total war’, Zelenskyy says

Zelenskyy has said Russia is waging “total war” on Ukraine that includes inflicting as many casualties and as much infrastructure destruction as possible.

Zelenskyy made the comments in his nightly address on the eve of the three-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. He noted that since February 24, the Russian army has launched 1,474 missile attacks on Ukraine, using 2,275 different missiles. He said the vast majority hit civilian targets.

“Indeed, there has not been such a war on the European continent for 77 years,” he said.

“The occupiers want to take away from us not just something, but everything we have. Including the right to life for Ukrainians,” he added.

Wimbledon’s ban on Russians was ‘wrong’, says Djokovic

Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tennis tournament following the invasion of Ukraine was wrong, world number one Novak Djokovic has said.

Wimbledon was stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA Tours over its decision to exclude players from the two countries.

“I think it (Wimbledon’s ban) was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But at these times it is a sensitive subject and whatever you decide will create a lot of conflict,” said Djokovic, who is Serbian.

“There was never unfortunately a strong communication coming from Wimbledon. That’s why I think it’s wrong.”

More war crime cases to be prosecuted by Ukraine: AJE correspondent

After the sentencing of a Russian soldier to life in prison for allegedly shooting a Ukrainian civilian, more war crime cases are expected to be tried in Ukraine, Al Jazeera correspondent Zein Basravi has said.

“What we are likely to see is many more such cases as this conflict continues,” Basravi said from Kyiv. “We’ve got two pilots possibly being seen in court in the coming days. That’s the next case on the horizon. And Ukrainian prosecutors are investigating more and more cases of what they’re calling alleged war crimes on a near-daily basis.”

Russian army sergeant Vadim Shishimarin sits during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, during a court hearing in Kyiv, May 18 [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Russia to develop ties with China: Lavrov

Lavrov says Moscow will consider any offers from the West to re-establish ties, but will focus on developing ties with China for now.

“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” Russia’s foreign minister said in a speech, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website.

“Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” he added.

Three civilians dead in Donetsk region: Governor

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has said three civilians in the region have died in Russian attacks. He did not give further details.

Earlier, Kyrylenko told The Associated Press news agency in Kramatorsk that heavy fighting was continuing near the region of Luhansk and that the front line was under continuous bombardment.

Kyrylenko said the “situation is difficult. The front line is under shelling at all times”.

‘Never have I been so ashamed of my country’: Russian diplomat resigns

A veteran Russian diplomat to the United Nations office in Geneva has handed in his resignation and sent a statement to foreign colleagues criticising the “aggressive war unleashed” by Putin in Ukraine.

Boris Bondarev, who worked as a counsellor at Russia’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva, told the Reuters news agency: “I went to the mission like any other Monday morning and I forwarded my resignation letter and I walked out.”

Read the full story here.

Nearly 90 killed in Desna attack

Speaking to global leaders who were gathered for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy also revealed Ukraine’s worst military losses from a single attack of the war, saying 87 people had been killed last week when Russian forces struck a barracks housing troops at a training base in the north.

Previously, Kyiv had said eight people died in the May 17 strike on the barracks in the town of Desna.

EU embargo on Russian oil ‘within days’: German minister

The European Union will likely agree on an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days”, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has told broadcaster ZDF.

Habeck warned, however, that an embargo would not automatically weaken the Kremlin as rising prices were enabling it to rake in more income while selling lower volumes of oil.

Therefore, one consideration was to no longer pay “any price” for oil, but to agree on upper limits, he said. For that to work, however, many countries would have to get on board.

Some 20 countries commit new security aid for Ukraine: Pentagon chief

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that some 20 countries had announced new security assistance packages for Ukraine during a virtual meeting with allies on Monday that was aimed at coordinating arms for Kyiv.

The countries that announced new packages included Italy, Denmark, Greece, Norway and Poland, Austin told reporters following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. Denmark would provide a harpoon launcher and missiles to defend Ukraine’s coast, Austin said.

“Everyone here understands the stakes of this war,” Austin said.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - MAY 23: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon May 23, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley spoke on various topics including Russia’s invasion to Ukraine and whether the U.S. would react militarily if China attacks Taiwan. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon [Alex Wong/Getty Images/via AFP]

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy would meet Putin to end to war

Addressing by video link an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Ukrainian president has said that Putin was the only Russian official he was willing to meet with the sole scope of ending the war.

But Zelenskyy said that arranging any sort of talks with Russia was becoming more difficult in the light of what he said was evidence of Russian actions against civilians under occupation.

He also told the global business community that the world must increase sanctions against Russia to deter other countries from using “brute force” to achieve their aims.

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

Read all the updates from Saturday, May 23 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies