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Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv reach Russian border

May 16, 2022

Ukrainian soldiers have reached the border after pushing back Russian forces in Kharkiv. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned of more attacks in Donbas.

Ukrainian servicemen patrol in a recently retaken village, north of Kharkiv, east Ukraine, Sunday, May 15, 2022.
Ukraine has said that it has gained momentum in the north of the countryImage: Mstyslav Chernov/AP/picture alliance
  • Zelenskyy planning to address parliaments in Africa and Asia
  • Ukrainian foreign minister in Brussels for talks with EU counterparts
  • Ukraine restarts gas distribution stations, supplies in Kharkiv
  • Ukrainian troops in Kharkiv reach Russian border

These live updates are now closed. Read Tuesday's developments in the conflict by clicking here

19 civilians killed in Donbas in Russian attacks — Ukrainian authorities

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said that "at least 10 civilians" had been killed in Russian shelling in the city of Sievierodonetsk.

Previously, Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said that nine civilians were killed and six injured in Russian attacks.

The Donetsk and Luhansk administrative divisions make up Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, which has been contested by Kyiv and pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

Ukraine mounts counterattack

Evacuated Azovstal fighters arrive in Novoazovsk

A witness cited by Reuters said that Ukrainian fighters have arrived in Novoazovsk after having been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Both Mariupol and Novoazovsk are located in Ukraine's southeastern Donetsk region.

The witness said that some of the evacuees were carried out of buses on stretchers.

Novoazovsk is under the control of Russia-backed separatists.

Azovstal deal reached? Fanny Facsar reports

Europe shows 'double standard' in treatment of Ukrainian, African migrants — Red Cross

The president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Monday that there was a "double standard" in the treatment of migrants from different countries who come to Europe.

Francesco Rocca said there was no difference between someone fleeing Ukraine's eastern Donbas and someone fleeing violence from the Boko Haram Islamist militia in Nigeria.

"Those who are fleeing violence, those who are seeking protection should be treated equally," he said. "Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives."

Scholz warns war could drag on

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he sees no sign of an imminent end to the war in Ukraine.

Speaking to German broadcaster RTL Scholz also said he was concerned there could be "an escalation of the war."

"There is only one way out of this for Russia and that is reaching an agreement with Ukraine," he said. "And that doesn't mean a diktat peace, taking a bit of territory and then saying 'sign here'."

Scholz said that the West would not accept such stealth border changes if Ukraine objected to them.

Moscow says deal reached to evacuate Azovstal injured soldiers

The Russian Ministry of Defense said Monday that it had reached an agreement for injured Ukrainian soldiers stuck in the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol to be evacuated to the nearby town of Novoazovsk.

The ministry said there would be a “regime of silence” in force for the duration of the evacuation. Ukrainian officials did not immediately confirm the report.

Hundreds of soldiers remain in underground tunnels of the large steel factory complex, which has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks. Ukraine’s Azov battalion has shared videos from the plant showing wounded soldiers, stating they are dying of their wounds.

"The planes are the worst": Mariupol evacuee

Swedish PM announces country will seek NATO membership

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson called it “a historic change in our country's security policy” while addressing parliament in Stockholm. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden to rethink 200 years of military neutrality.

"Sweden needs formal security guarantees that come with membership in NATO,'' Andersson said, noting her country would be acting in concert with fellow Nordic nation Finland.

Finland and Sweden already participate in NATO activities, exercises and on occasion, deployments. Andersson formally announced Sweden's decision alongside opposition leader Ulf Kristersson in Stockholm. 

"We are leaving one era and entering a new one," she said.

Putin: If Sweden and Finland expand military infrastructure, Russia would react

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that any expansion of military infrastructure on the territory of Sweden and Finland, should they end up joining the NATO alliance, would require a reaction from Moscow.

He was speaking at a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) — an alliance of former Soviet states — in Moscow on Monday.

The Russian president said, however, that the inclusion of the two Nordic states into NATO would otherwise not pose any problems for Russia.

Helsinki and Stockholm have both signaled interest in joining the alliance after decades of maintaining neutrality.

Turkey opposes Sweden, Finland joining NATO

Zelenskyy replaces head of Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has replaced the head of the Territorial Defense Forces, Yuriy Halushkin, with Major General Ihor Tantsiura, the defense ministry said on Monday.

No reason was given for the replacement.

The ministry said Tantsiura was an experienced officer who has previously served as chief of staff for Ukraine's ground forces.

The Territorial Defense Forces were founded shortly before the Russian invasion to support the Ukrainian army in defending against Russian attacks. It played an important role in the defense of the country and has seen its numbers grow.

 "The explosive growth of the structure, especially in conditions of intense combat, is a huge experience, [with] mistakes and achievements. There are successes and, unfortunately, losses," the ministry said in a statement.

McDonald's to sell off its business in Russia

The fast-food giant announced on Monday that it will be completely exiting Russia and selling its business in the country to a local buyer.

The restaurant chain owns some 850 locations in Russia, employing 62,000 people. The Chicago-based company had temporarily suspended its business in the country after Russia invaded Ukraine, but continued to pay its employees.

The company said in a statement Monday that staying in the country "is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald's values."

It also said that it was looking for a Russian buyer that would continue to pay its employees until any sale was closed.

A woman visits a McDonald's restaurant near Pushkinskaya Station of the Moscow Metro
Russians raced to use their last chance to eat at McDonald's before the restaurants were temporarily closed from March 14Image: Mikhail Metzel/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

The first McDonald's restaurant appeared in central Moscow shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, just before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It marked an easing of Cold War tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Missile strike destroys tourist accommodation in Odesa

The Ukrainian military said on Monday that a Russian missile strike on the port city of Odesa destroyed tourist accommodation and left three people injured.

They said that the intended target had been a bridge over the Dniester River that had been hit in a previous strike.

The Black Sea port city, once a popular destination for Russian tourists, has been largely spared the violence seen in the north and east of the country. Nevertheless, previous Russian strikes have caused destruction and death in the city.

Russian missiles batter Odesa

Russia gave no initial confirmation of the strike on Odesa, but the defense ministry reported early on Monday that it had carried out over 100 airstrikes against Ukrainian military infrastructure overnight.

EU lowers growth expectations amid Ukraine war

The European Commission on Monday lowered its Eurozone growth forecast for 2022 down to 2.7%, from a previous estimate of 4%.

The EU cited fallout from the war in Ukraine and rising energy prices as the main culprits. The Russian invasion is "weighing on Europe's economic recovery" from the global pandemic, EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said.

He added that high growth in 2021 should dampen the worst effects of this year's lower prognosis.

The EU also predicts that inflation in the Eurozone will exceed 6% in 2022, peaking at 6.9% in the second quarter before falling to 2.7% in 2023.

Russia warns Finland and Sweden of 'grave mistake'

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the possible admission of Finland and Sweden as NATO members a "grave mistake with far-reaching consequences" on Monday.

He warned that the move would increase military tensions and told the two Scandinavian countries that "they should have no illusions that we will simply resign ourselves to this."

His warning comes as the parliaments in both countries begin formal debates ahead of votes on their governments' plans to join NATO.

Finland moves a step closer to joining NATO

The leading parties in Helsinki and Stockholm have already expressed their interest in joining following decades of neutrality.

Oil sanctions against Russia still being held up

The new raft of sanctions that the EU first proposed almost two weeks ago has yet to find unanimous support.

The sanctions include an embargo on Russian oil, but some EU member states are particularly dependent on Russian oil imports. While the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria have expressed reservations, Hungary has been the most explicit in its opposition to the plan.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Monday that "the whole union is being held hostage by one member state." Viktor Orban's Hungary has so far refused to agree on any ban and demanded concessions from Brussels, including financial aid.

Some of the members that are more dependent on Russian oil have been offered more time to implement the embargo, but so far the requires 27-member consensus has not been achieved.

Why does Germany support an oil embargo?

Ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that " we will do our best in order to deblock the situation. I cannot ensure that it is going to happen because positions are quite strong."

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will take part in the meeting where the bloc is expected to release another €500 million ($520 million) for weapons deliveries to Ukraine. This would bring the EU's total funding for the war-ravaged country to €2 billion.

Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv reach Russian border

Following successes in pushing Russian troops back in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, a Ukrainian battalion reached the border with Russia late on Sunday.

The soldiers made a video addressed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying that they had reached "the dividing line with the Russian Federation, the occupying country. Mr President, we have reached it."

Kharkiv's regional governor, Oleh Synehubov, confirmed the arrival of some Ukrainian troops at the Russian border over Telegram on Monday, according to Reuters.

Kharkiv is the country's second-largest city.

Ukraine says Kharkiv is secure once again

Ukraine also claimed to have resisted attempts by Russian forces to push forward in the Donbas region, although these claims could not be independently verified.

In Sunday night's video address, Zelenskyy warned that "we are preparing for new attempts by Russia to attack in Donbas, to somehow intensify its movement in the south of Ukraine."

Zelenskyy planning to address parliaments in Africa and Asia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he wants to address national parliaments in Africa and Asia as he seeks their support for Ukraine in its ongoing fight against Russia's invasion.

He stressed that his government is doing everything to maintain the world's attention on the conflict.

"Information about our needs should be in the news of all countries that are important to us constantly and every day," he said in his nightly address on Sunday.

Since the start of the Russian invasion at the end of February, Zelenskyy has been addressing parliaments around the world to plead the cause of the Ukrainian people.

"I will definitely continue to address the parliaments of Ukraine's European partner states," he said, adding: "By the way, we are also working to expand the geography of such special speeches in the parliaments of Africa and Asia."

Sanctions block billions of dollars worth of Belarusian exports

Sanctions imposed on Belarus have blocked $16 to $18 billion (€15.4 to €17.3 billion) worth of its annual exports to the West, Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko was quoted as saying by the Belta news agency.

"Because of the sanctions, almost all of Belarus's exports to the countries of the European Union and North America have been blocked," Golovchenko said.

"This ... comes to about $16 billion to $18 billion a year."

President Alexander Lukashenko has insisted that Belarus must be involved in negotiations to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, saying also that Minsk had been unfairly labeled "an accomplice of the aggressor."

'Lukashenko is basically a vassal to Putin' 

Ukraine restarts gas distribution stations in Kharkiv

Ukraine's gas transit system operator said that it had resumed operations at two distribution stations in the Kharkiv region and restarted gas supply to more than 3,000 consumers.

"Both stations were shut down due to damage to the main gas pipeline in the Kharkiv region as a result of hostilities," the operator said in a statement, adding that the damages have now been repaired.

Some 54 gas distribution stations in seven regions of Ukraine remain shut down, the operator noted.

Ukrainian foreign minister in Brussels for talks with EU counterparts

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will meet foreign ministers of EU member states in Brussels on Monday and discuss the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

EU countries are expected to approve a further €500 million in military aid for Ukraine, after it was proposed by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday. 

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is also expected in Brussels. Kuleba had recently demanded the German government deliver more self-propelled armored howitzers. Berlin has so far pledged to supply seven of them.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Sunday

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats said they backed the country joining NATO, creating a large majority in parliament in favor of membership. The party abandoned decades of opposition to NATO membership in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Finnish government has officially announced that it will apply for NATO membership, after the decision was endorsed by the country's ruling political party. The decision is expected to be approved by the Finnish parliament in the coming days.   

NATO will do its best to make sure that Finland and Sweden will have an expedited application process, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana told DW on Sunday.

The British Defense Ministry claimed that Russian forces failed to achieve "substantial territorial gains" in Ukraine's eastern region of Donbas. "Russia's Donbas offensive has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule," the UK defense intelligence update said. 

Ukraine has already deployed many of its new artillery systems, American M-777 howitzers, on the front lines, the US said. The M-777 howitzer shipment is part of the US aid package to Ukraine. The M-777 is considered particularly important because of its long-range and accuracy.

Ukraine can defeat Russia's invasion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. "Ukraine can win this war. Ukrainians are bravely defending their homeland," said Stoltenberg.

NATO also pledged open-ended military support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. 

Four missile strikes hit a military infrastructure in Lviv, western Ukraine, said the head of the Regional Military Administration Maxim Kozytsky. Lviv, near the Polish border, has been spared most of the heavy fighting that has been reported across Ukraine, although the western city has been sporadically hit with Russian strikes.

Catch up on yesterday's developments in the conflict by clicking here 

ab, sri/jsi (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)