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Ukraine updates: Blinken tells Zelenskyy US aid 'on the way'

Published May 14, 2024last updated May 14, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the US for a "crucial" package that provides billions of dollars of new US aid as Ukraine battles intense Russian attacks in the east. DW has the latest.

Antony Blinken shakes hands with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Antony Blinken arrived in an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as it struggles to defend against increasingly intense Russian attacksImage: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday morning on an unannounced visit aimed at reassuring Ukrainians of continued US support and arms flow as Russia attacks the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Marking his fourth visit to Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, Blinken arrived by overnight train from Poland. He met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital and said US assistance was "on the way."

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Tuesday, May 14:

Skip next section Emergency blackouts across Ukraine after Russian strikes
May 14, 2024

Emergency blackouts across Ukraine after Russian strikes

Ukraine's electrical grid operator Ukrenergo on Tuesday announced that it had initiated emergency nationwide blackouts.

"From 21:00 to 24:00, Ukrenergo is forced to introduce controlled emergency shutdowns in all regions of Ukraine. The reason for this is a significant shortage of electricity in the system as a result of Russian strikes and increased consumption due to a cold snap," the company announced on the social media platform Telegram. 

Ukrenergo also said that industrial customers would be under a 24-hour restriction through Wednesday.

Skip next section 20 people injured in Russian strikes on Kharkiv — local authorities
May 14, 2024

20 people injured in Russian strikes on Kharkiv — local authorities

Twenty people were injured in a series of Russian air strikes on residential areas in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to local officials.

One of the sites hit was a 20-story building in the city center, emergency services said.

Prosecutors said that at least 15 garages near a regional building caught fire after being struck by guided bombs.

Kharkiv regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said Russia struck residential areas of Kharkiv seven times on Tuesday.

Kharkiv is Ukraine's second-most populous city.Russia has recently stepped up its offensive in the surrounding region.

Skip next section Russia must pay for destruction in Ukraine — Blinken
May 14, 2024

Russia must pay for destruction in Ukraine — Blinken

In a speech made during his surprise visit to Kyiv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia must pay for the rebuilding of Ukraine. 

"What [Russian President Vladimir] Putin destroyed, Russia should — must — pay to rebuild," Blinken said.

"Our Congress has given us the power to seize Russian assets in the US, and we intend to use it."

He urged the international community to help make Russia bear the cost of reconstruction.

"We're working with our G7 partners to see that Russia's immobilized sovereign assets are used to remedy the damage that Putin continues to cost," Blinken said.

Skip next section Sri Lanka says around 280 citizens recruited for Russia-Ukraine war
May 14, 2024

Sri Lanka says around 280 citizens recruited for Russia-Ukraine war

Around 280 Sri Lankan citizens have been recruited to fight in the war between Russia and Ukraine  — on both sides — according to Colombo officials investigating concerns from relatives.

Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry set up a special unit last week to collect information on citizens who have traveled to join the war in eastern Europe.

"We have received complaints from approximately 280 family members," public security minister Tiran Alles told the AFP news agency.

The majority were worried about relatives who have been duped into joining the Russian army after being promised high salaries and non-combat roles, lawmaker Gamini Waleboda told parliament on Monday.

Police have arrested two retired Sri Lankan army officers, including a major general, for allegedly acting as illegal recruiting agents for Russian mercenary groups.

India and Nepal have also confirmed that dozens of their citizens have been recruited to fight in the Russian army in the past year.

Skip next section France to send extra military aid to Ukraine
May 14, 2024

France to send extra military aid to Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron held a telephone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday afternoon in which he condemned Moscow's fresh offensive in the Kharkiv region.

Macron "strongly condemned the intensification of Russian strikes in Ukraine, particularly on its energy infrastructure, as well as the offensive underway," according to his office.

Following the phone call, the Elysee Palace announced that Paris would deliver additional military aid to Ukraine in the coming days and weeks.

"The President of the Republic reiterated France's determination to provide all the necessary support," a statement read.

"He was also able to detail the deliveries for the coming days and weeks in support of the Ukrainian military effort."

Macron also pushed the idea of an "Olympic truce so that Russia ceases its current operations and that all useful diplomatic initiatives are taken to initiate negotiations that respect international law and the legitimate interests of Ukraine."

Skip next section Ukraine's Zelenskyy to meet King Felipe on Spain visit
May 14, 2024

Ukraine's Zelenskyy to meet King Felipe on Spain visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Spain on Friday and will be received in Madrid by King Felipe VI, according to the royal palace.

The Spanish government has not provided precise details on the visit due to security reasons, but Zelenskyy is expected to sign a bilateral security cooperation agreement with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, according to Spanish daily El Pais.

Like other European Union member states, Spain has committed to supporting Ukraine with financial and military aid since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

In March, Spain said it would transfer 19 German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the first ten of which are expected by the end of June, reported El Pais.

In May, Madrid provided Kyiv with long-range interceptor missiles for its Patriot air defense systems.

Skip next section Ukraine's defense minister calls for more artillery shells
May 14, 2024

Ukraine's defense minister calls for more artillery shells

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov has called for more artillery shells to combat increasing Russian attacks.

"We need more artillery shells as Russia is still many times ahead," Umerov told the 2024 Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Tuesday, which he joined virtually.

"Under such conditions it's extremely difficult to hold ground," he said.

The Russian army's ability to vastly outgun Ukrainian forces was a key factor in the destruction and eventual occupation of towns such as Bakhmut and Avdiivka, with the frontline town of Chasiv Yar currently enduring a similar ordeal.

"Without artillery munition, every front is doomed," one artillery officer in eastern Ukraine told DW in April. "Losses will go up because it is not possible to respond to firepower appropriately."

And while Ukrainian commanders and international observers do not believe that Russia's latest assault in the north-east this week could result in the fall of the major city of Kharkiv, there are concerns that it could also come within Russian artillery range.

Russia advances on key city in eastern Ukraine

Skip next section Russian general arrested on suspicion of bribery as corruption scandal widens
May 14, 2024

Russian general arrested on suspicion of bribery as corruption scandal widens

Russian authorities arrested another high-ranking Defense Ministry general on suspicion of bribery on Tuesday, making him the latest person to be arrested in a widening corruption scandal.

Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of the defense ministry's main personnel directorate, was taken into custody after investigators seized gold coins, luxury items and 100 million rubles ($1.1 million) in cash, while conducting a search of his home.

A statement from the Investigative Committee, Russia's top law enforcement body, accused Kuznetsov of accepting an "exceptionally large bribe," a charge punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Kuznetsov's arrest comes after the 23 April arrest of Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, who is accused of benefiting from construction projects in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol

At least four others have been arrested on similar alleged bribery charges, signaling a widening of the biggest government corruption scandal in years. 

Kuznetsov's arrest came two days after Vladimir Putin unexpectedly removed Sergei Shoigu from the post of defense minister. Shoigu was a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and a key supporter of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Putin reshuffles Defense Ministry amid war in Ukraine

Skip next section Putin to visit China this week
May 14, 2024

Putin to visit China this week

Russian President Vladimir Putin will embark on a two-day visit to China on Thursday and Friday this week, both countries announced on Tuesday.

Ahead of what will be the fourth face-to-face meeting between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China's Foreign Ministry said the two leaders would discuss "cooperation in various fields of bilateral relations... as well as international and regional issues of common concern."

The Kremlin also confirmed the visit, saying the leaders would "discuss in detail the entire spectrum of topics in their comprehensive partnership, identify key areas for practical Chinese-Russian cooperation and exchange views on the most pressing international and regional questions."

This will be Putin's first diplomatic trip abroad since being reelected for a fifth term in office and will underscore the growing relationship between Moscow and Beijing.

Just days before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia and China announced a "no limits" partnership with economic ties between the two nuclear powers having increased since the war.

Beijing has claimed neutrality and called for peace in the conflict, but it has also avoided criticizing Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

Skip next section Vovchansk: Ukraine says situation under control amid Russian claim
May 14, 2024

Vovchansk: Ukraine says situation under control amid Russian claim

Ukraine's military said in its daily report on the state of the battlefield that the situation in the town of Vovchansk, in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv regionwas under control. 

However, Ukrainian forces had to withdraw to new positions near the village of Lukyantsi due to heavy Russian air strikes, the military said. 

This came as Russian state news agency TASS reported that Moscow's forces had taken control of the western and northern parts of Vovchansk. 

Russia launched a renewed offensive on the Kharkiv region on May 10, prompting Ukrainian reinforcement, civilian evacuations and what Kyiv officials described as "fierce" fighting. 

Kharkiv: Ukraine evacuates thousands from border towns

Skip next section Blinken tells Zelenskyy aid is on the way
May 14, 2024

Blinken tells Zelenskyy aid is on the way

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Kyiv on Tuesday morning, thanking the US for a "crucial"  military package that provides billions of dollars of new US aid to Ukraine. 

Zelenskyy also added that air defense was Ukraine's biggest deficit, telling Blinken that his forces needed two air defense batteries immediately to protect the second biggest city of Kharkiv, as its surrounding region feels the pressure of a renewed Russian assault.

"Really, we need today two Patriots [air defense systems] for Kharkiv, for the Kharkiv region, because there the people are under attack," Zelenskyy said. "Civilians, warriors, everybody they are under Russian missiles."

Blinken said that a "strong, successful, thriving, free Ukraine is the best possible rebuke to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin" and that the US is determined to help Ukraine support itself "economically, militarily [and] democratically" over time.

He said US weapons had begun arriving in Ukraine and that more supplies were on the way. "We also know that in the near term the assistance is now on the way, some of it has already arrived and more of it will be arriving," Blinken said. "And that's going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield," he added.

Zelenskyy announces reinforcements on Kharkiv front lines

Skip next section Russia reports casualty, damage in new Belgorod attack
May 14, 2024

Russia reports casualty, damage in new Belgorod attack

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the southern Russian border region of Belgorod, said an air attack caused one casualty and damage to 24 houses. 

"There is one casualty — a woman has received a shrapnel wound to her spine," Gladkov said. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported explosions following a missile alert.

Russia's Defense Ministry said air defense systems shot down 25 missiles over Belgorod. The ministry said the missiles had been fired from Ukraine. 

Russia starts evacuating villages after cross-border attacks

This comes after a residential building in Belgorod collapsed in a missile attack on Sunday, killing at least 15 people, according to Russian authorities. 

Skip next section Scholz dampens expectations for Ukraine peace conference
May 14, 2024

Scholz dampens expectations for Ukraine peace conference

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has tempered expectations for the Ukraine peace conference to be held in Switzerland in June.

"Nobody should have exaggerated expectations. We are not negotiating the end of the war there," Scholz said in an interview with the German news magazine Stern.

"At best, it's the start of a process that could lead to direct talks between Ukraine and Russia. In Switzerland, it will be about the safety of nuclear power plants, grain exports, the issue of prisoner exchanges and the necessary taboo on the use of nuclear weapons. Once again, this is all still in its infancy," Scholz said.

The chancellor was disappointed with the involvement of European countries in the war in Ukraine after his appeals for more arms deliveries. It is "frankly still not enough," he said.

"That is depressing, because Ukraine urgently needs more air defense systems. Putin obviously wants to destroy Ukraine's infrastructure," Scholz added.

Skip next section Biden signs ban on imports of Russian nuclear fuel into law
May 14, 2024

Biden signs ban on imports of Russian nuclear fuel into law

US President Joe Biden has signed a ban on Russian enriched uranium into law, the White House said, in Washington's latest effort to disrupt Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The ban on imports of the fuel for nuclear power plants begins in about 90 days, although it allows the Department of Energy to issue waivers if there are supply concerns.

Russia is the world's leading supplier of enriched uranium, and about 24% of the enriched uranium used in US nuclear power plants comes from there.

The legislation also releases about $2.7 billion (€2.5 billion) in funding provided in previous legislation to expand the US uranium fuel industry.

Skip next section Blinken arrives in Ukraine to show US solidarity
May 14, 2024

Blinken arrives in Ukraine to show US solidarity

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv by train early Tuesday morning on an unannounced diplomatic mission to reassure Ukraine that it has American support as Russia attacks the northeastern Kharkiv region.

The visit comes less than a month after Congress approved a long-delayed foreign aid package that provides $61 billion (€57 billion) in assistance to Ukraine, much of it to replenish badly depleted artillery and air defense systems.

Blinken hopes to "send a strong signal of reassurance to the Ukrainians who are obviously in a very difficult moment," said a US official who briefed reporters traveling with Blinken on condition of anonymity.

In a statement released after Blinken's arrival, the State Department said he would meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top Ukrainian officials "to discuss battlefield updates, the impact of new US security and economic assistance, long-term security and other commitments, and ongoing work to bolster Ukraine's economic recovery."

dh/jsi (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)