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A Ukraine at war mourns first post-Soviet president

May 10, 2022

Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of independent Ukraine, died after a long illness. Meanwhile German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged further support to Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv.

Leonid Kravchuk, the first President of independent Ukraine (in office 1991-1994), partakes in the presentation of his book, Pershyi pro vladu (The First on Power), Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, January 10, 2019.
Leonid Kravchuk was Ukraine's president from 1991 through 1994Image: Olena Khudiakova/Ukrinform/IMAGO
  • Ukraine to halt key Russian gas transit to Europe, Russia says alternative not possible 

  • German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visits Ukraine

  • UN says more than 8 million internally displaced in Ukraine

  • Buildings lay in ruins in Odesa after missile attacks kill at least one person

This live updates article is now closed. For the latest on Russia's invasion, please click here. 

Italy's Draghi calls for negotiations to end conflict

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and US President Joe Biden have hailed trans-Atlantic unity in the West's response to Russia's war in Ukraine.

"The ties between our two countries will always be strong and, if anything, this war in Ukraine has made them stronger," Italy's premier said during a visit to the White House on Tuesday. 

Draghi also said leaders should work toward "the possibility of bringing a cease-fire and starting, again, some credible negotiations.'' 

Biden, however, did not echo Draghi's comments about cease-fire negotiations, and US officials have voiced doubts about restarting talks.

The US director of national intelligence said earlier Tuesday that both Ukraine and Russia believe they can make progress on the battlefield at this point, so "we do not see a viable negotiating path forward, at least in the short term.''

She also said Russian President Vladimir Putin is prepared for a "prolonged conflict.''

Zelenskyy honors Leonid Kravchuk in video address

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has paid tribute to Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of an independent Ukraine, who died Tuesday at age 88.

"He was not just a politician, and even not just a historical figure,'' Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. "He was a man who knew how to find wise words and to say them so that all Ukrainians would hear them.''

This was particularly important in "difficult, crisis moments, when the future of the whole country may depend on the courage of one man,'' he said. Zelenskyy himself has received praise for showing strong communication and leadership skills amid Russia's invasion of his country.

Kravchuk led Ukraine to independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union and served as president from 1991 to 1994. In recent years, he tried to help negotiate an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

"As a child he lived through World War II, lived through the occupation,'' Zelenskyy said, adding that Kravchuk "knew the price of freedom and with all his heart wanted peace for Ukraine. I am sure that we will accomplish this. We will achieve our victory and our peace.''

Ukraine advances to Eurovision final

Ukraine has made it through to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Twenty-five countries will compete for the title in the Italian city of Turin on Saturday. 

Ukrainian rap folk band Kalush Orchestra will be among them after advancing with the song "Stefania" late Tuesday.

It is considered the favorite to win this year's contest, which is being overshadowed by Russia's war in Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra perform on stage
Kalush Orchestra has a strong chance of winning this year's song contestImage: A. Putting/EBU

Ukraine says it has retaken villages near Kharkiv

Ukrainian troops have reportedly recaptured several villages from Russian troops north and northeast of Kharkiv.

The northeastern city and the surrounding area have been under sustained Russian attack since early in the war. 

A press officer with the main Ukrainian force in the region said Ukraine had seized the settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske in a counter-offensive.

Defense Ministry adviser Yuriy Saks said the Ukrainian successes were pushing Russian forces out of range of Kharkiv, which is the country's second-largest city.

The counterattck could signal a new phase in the war and slow Russia's advance in the east.

"Ukrainians are getting close to the Russian border. So all the gains that the Russians made in the early days in the northeast of Ukraine are increasingly slipping away," Neil Melvin of the RUSI think tank in London told Reuters.

UN chief visits Ukrainian refugees in Moldova

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has met with Ukrainian refugees in Moldova, saying he was "deeply moved" by their stories.

Guterres is on a two-day visit to the country, which has so far received more than 450,000 people fleeing across the border.

The UN chief met with Moldovan leaders and noted that the small nation has absorbed the most refugees proportionate to its own population of about 2.6 million.

Guterres told Moldovan President Maia Sandu that the UN would boost support to help her country deal with the refugee crisis. 

A map showing where Ukrainian refugees are fleeing

Ukraine's first president, Leonid Kravchuk, dies at 88

Leonid Kravchuk, who led Ukraine to independence amid the collapse of the Soviet Union and served as its first president, has died. He was 88.

"Sad news and a great loss," presidential aide Andriy Yermak said on Telegram, describing him as "a wise patriot of Ukraine, a truly historical figure in gaining our independence." Yermak did not give details of the circumstances of Kravchuk's death.

He had been in poor health and underwent a heart operation last year.

Dmytro Razumkov, a former speaker of Ukraine's parliament, called Kravchuk's death "a great loss for the whole of Ukraine."

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko hailed him for his "talent, a strong character and knowledge."

Kravchuk led Ukraine as its Communist Party boss in the waning years of the Soviet Union. He was elected as president in 1991 after the country declared independence and served until 1994.

In 2020 he returned to politics to try to negotiate a settlement as part of a "contact group'' for the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

NATO chief infected with COVID-19 working from home

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has been diagnosed with COVID-19, a spokesperson for the alliance said.

He is showing mild symptoms and will work from home in Brussels in the coming days in line with Belgian medical guidelines.

Finland and Sweden were set to announce their positions on NATO membership this week, in what could be a serious setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin cited NATO's previous expansion in Eastern Europe and the possibility of Ukraine joining the alliance as some of the reasons for invading Ukraine.

Stoltenberg has pledged Finland and Sweden would be quickly welcomed with "open arms."

Putin in Ukraine for the long haul, US intelligence officials say

The US director of national intelligence warned Russian President Vladimir Putin was ready for a long war in Ukraine and would not stop at Donbas.

Avril Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Putin was counting on the Western resolve to weaken over time.

"Combined with the reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia's current conventional military capabilities ... the next few months could see us moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory," Haines said.

Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate neither side was winning.

"The Russians aren't winning, and the Ukrainians aren't winning, and we're at a bit of a stalemate here," Berrier said.

Lithuanian paramilitary groups

Gazprom rejects Ukraine's plan to switch gas flows to new entry point

Russian energy giant Gazprom said it was not technologically possible to switch gas transfers to Ukraine to a new entry point.

It came shortly after Ukraine's gas system operator GTSOU said Russian flows to Europe via Sokhranivka would stop from Wednesday. It proposed transferring capacity to another location, Sudzha.

Gazprom, however, said the transfer of the volumes of gas to Sudzha was "technologically impossible."

A third of the Russian gas going to Europe through Ukraine goes through Sokhranivka.

Can Germany build an LNG terminal in record time?

Ukraine to stop Russian gas to Europe through a key entry point

Ukraine's gas system operator GTSOU said Russian flows to Europe via Sokhranivka would stop from Wednesday.

The Sokhranivka border point and the adjacent Novopskov compressor station in the Luhansk region came under Russian control soon after the invasion began.

GTSOU said it could not carry out operations at Novopskov due to "the interference of the occupying forces in technical processes."

The transit route accounts for around 32.6 million cubic meters of gas a day, or a third of the Russian gas going to Europe through Ukraine.

"To fulfill its transit obligations to European partners in full and following the terms of the agreement, it is possible to temporarily transfer unavailable capacity from the 'Sokhranivka' physical interconnection point to the 'Sudzha' physical interconnection point located in the territory controlled by Ukraine," GTSOU said in a statement.

Baerbock meets Zelenskyy and promises further support

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged further support to Ukraine.

Baerbock, the first German Cabinet member to visit Ukraine since the start of the war, made the promisse after meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

"I can't convey how happy I am to be here today in a free Kyiv," Baerbock wrote on Twitter, sharing an image of her shaking Zelenskyy's hand. "The courage required on the side of the Ukrainians to ensure this is moving. My message is clear: Ukraine can count on our support, not just militarily, and not just today. We will be here just the same when this war is over, when Vladimir Putin will have failed in his goals, when Ukraine begins to plan its free future."

Johnson to visit Finland and Sweden to discuss Ukraine and NATO

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit Finland and Sweden on Wednesday.

"It is about not just Ukraine, but about the broader security of Europe," Johnson's spokesman said of the trip.

Both countries were expected to announce this week whether they will apply to join NATO.

"We support countries' democratic capability to decide on things like NATO membership. We understand the positions of Sweden and Finland and that is why the Prime Minister is going to discuss these broader security issues," Johnson's office said.

UN refugee boss concerned focus on Ukrainian refugees detracting from other crises

The Ukrainian refugee crisis has shifted the focus away from others who fled war and need help, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told DW.

"Today, the number of Syrian refugees registered in the Middle East is 5.7 million. This happens to be today exactly the same number as Ukrainian refugees that left their country, 5.7 million," he said.

Grandi attended an EU donor conference in Brussels for Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them.

He said the EU did an "exemplary" job of responding to refugees fleeing from Ukraine.

"I hope this exemplary response of Europe to this Ukrainian refugee crisis can be, you know, the same solidarity the same vision can be applied also to respond to crises in other parts of the world.

UK and EU say Russia hacked into satellites modems at start of Ukraine war

Russia was behind a massive cyberattack against a satellite internet network which knocked thousands of people in the EU and Ukraine offline, Britain and the European Union said.

The digital assault against Viasat's KA-SAT satellite broadband network took place as Russian troops moved into Ukraine on February 24.

"This cyberattack had a significant impact causing indiscriminate communication outages and disruptions across several public authorities, businesses and users in Ukraine, as well as affecting several EU Member States," the Council of the EU said in a statement.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss described it as a "deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine."

Germany reopening embassy in Kyiv and training Ukrainian troops

Germany was reopening its embassy in Kyiv after it closed temporarily in February following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

She made the announcement at a joint press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv.

Baerbock also said Germany would start training Ukrainian troops on howitzer artillery systems within days.

Germany and the Netherlands said they would supply Ukraine with self-propelled armored howitzers to fend off the Russian attack.

UN says more than 8 million internally displaced in Ukraine

The International Organization for Migration (IMO) said more than 8 million people were displaced in Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on February 24. 

The UN migration agency said, according to a survey it conducted from April 17 and May 3, 44% of these people were considering further relocation due to the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the country. 

''The needs of those internally displaced and all affected by the war in Ukraine are growing by the hour," IOM chief Antonio Vitorino said.

"Access to populations in need of aid remains a challenge amid active hostilities, but our teams are committed to continue delivering urgent assistance inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries."

Some displaced Ukrainians return home

Death toll 'thousands higher' than reported — UN

The head of the human rights monitoring mission for the United Nations in Ukraine said Tuesday that "thousands" more had perished than the official death toll of 3,381. 

Matilda Bogner told a press briefing in Geneva that this was largely because Mariupol had become a "black hole" so "it has been difficult for us to fully access and to get fully corroborated information."

Russia won't attend UN Human Rights Council meeting

Russia will not take part in Thursday's specially convened session of the UN Human Rights Council on "the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression."

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday that "the Russian delegation will not legitimize with its presence this new political show organised under the guise of an extraordinary session."

Ukraine central bank increases domestic war portfolio

Ukraine's central bank has announced an increase to its portfolio of domestic war bonds. The addition amounts to 100 billion hryvnias ($3.39 billion, €3.14 billion).

"Given the significant defense, humanitarian and social needs, the support of the budget by the National Bank remains a necessary measure in the context of the war unleashed by Russia," the financial institution said in a statement.

Russia: Whether we use nuclear or not is in our 'military doctrine'

Russia's deputy foreign minister said Tuesday that a decision on the possible
use of nuclear weapons was clearly "written" in Russia's "military doctrine," news agency RIA quoted Alexander Grushko as saying.

Moscow's official military principles allow for the use of nuclear weapons if they — or other types of weapons of mass destruction — are used against it, or if the Russian state faces an existential threat from conventional weapons.

The decision to use Russia's vast nuclear arsenal rests with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

German Foreign Minister Baerbock arrives in Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday on the first trip there by a member of the Berlin government since Russia invaded the country on February 24.

Her visit comes as Germany continues to face criticism over its previous policy toward Russia, which has been widely perceived as placing economic interest over human rights concerns, notably in the area of energy exports.

However, Berlin is now giving considerable military support to Ukraine. 

At least 100 civilians remain in Mariupol steel plant — mayor's office

At least 100 civilians are still trapped in a steel works that is under heavy Russian fire in Mariupol, an aide to the city's mayor said on Tuesday.

The Azovstal steel plant is the last part of the southern port city still in the hands of Ukrainian fighters.

Ukraine had previously suggested that all civilians had left the Azovstal steel plant, and Russia also said the evacuation of civilians from the location was complete.

However, on Tuesday mayoral aide Petro Andryushchenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app that "at least 100 civilians remain in the (Azovstal) shelters. However, this does not reduce the density of attacks by the occupiers."

Dozens found dead from March building collapse

A Ukrainian official says the bodies of 44 civilians have been found in the rubble of a building in Izyum, in the Kharkiv region, destroyed by Russia in March.

Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram that the five-story building had collapsed with the victims inside.

He said: "This is another horrible war crime of the Russian occupiers against the civilian population!"

Frontline residents hold out hope for peace

Ukrainians want Scholz visit to show solidarity

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due in Ukraine on Tuesday, in a visit expected to help improve relations after a diplomatic spat over weapons supplies.

Despite Berlin's recent delivery of weaponry to Kyiv, there is still some skepticism among Ukrainians as to just how supportive Germany is, according to DW's correspondent in Kyiv, Amien Essif.

"At this point a lot of Ukrainians would like to see Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, visit Ukraine and i think until a big act like that, most Ukrainians will still see Germany as the European country that is holding back," he said.

French minister: EU deal on Russian oil ban could happen 'this week'

France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said EU member states are nearing a concrete agreement on the bloc's proposal to ban all oil imports from Russia.

"I think we could strike a deal this week," Beaune told LCI television, adding that French President Emmanuel Macron was due to talk to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban later in the day.

Hungary has been the most reluctant among the bloc's 27 members to back the planned embargo on Russian oil.

Nevertheless, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday she had made progress in talks with Viktor Orban on this issue.

Nordic region 'stronger' with Sweden and Finland in NATO

The Nordic region's defense capabilities would be strengthened if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, Stockholm's defense minister said on Tuesday.

"(If Sweden and Finland join NATO) there will be the effect that we use each others' strengths and advantages and fully complement each other and also carry out operational planning," Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist of the ruling Social Democrats said.

"If so, the effect will be that we become stronger together. This is something that can happen if we choose to join NATO," he told Sweden's public broadcaster's radio station.

Pulitzer Prizes honor Ukrainian journalists

Columbia University has unveiled its Pulitzer Prizes, issuing a "special citation" to Ukrainian journalists "for their courage, endurance and commitment to truthful reporting during Vladimir Putin's ruthless invasion of their country and his propaganda war in Russia," said board member Marjorie Miller, when announcing the prize.

"Despite bombardment abductions, occupation and even deaths in their ranks, they have persisted in their effort to provide an accurate picture of a terrible reality, doing honor to Ukraine and to journalists around the world," she added.

Fact checking Putin's May 9 speech

On the occasion of the annual military parade on Moscow's Red Square, Russian President Vladimir Putin leveled serious allegations against Ukraine and the West. DW Fact Check examined some of the key statements from Putin's speech on May 9, and you can catch up on the outcome here.

EBRD predicts Ukraine economy to contract 30%

Ukraine's economy is set to contract by almost a third this year, the latest forecast from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) shows.

The EBRD also reported that Ukraine's economy is set to rebound 25% in 2023, up from its March forecast of 23%.

A Russian blockade has severely restricted Ukraine's agricultural sector as the country is a major exporter of wheat and sunflower oil. The war has also stymied Ukraine's deliveries of cables imported by European carmakers.

Russia: 'It is not our tradition' to close embassies

Russia is not planning to close its embassies across Europe, the RIA news agency reported on Tuesday.

"This is not in our tradition," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told RIA.

"Therefore, we believe that the work of diplomatic representative offices is important."

On Monday, protesters splattered Russia's ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, with red liquid as he was arriving at an event in Warsaw to honor Soviet soldiers who died during World War II.

UN Security Council to meet Thursday

The UN Security Council will convene once again Thursday to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It will be the 16th session since Russia's assault began on February 24.

This latest meeting was requested by France and Mexico. The UN Human Rights Council will also convene Thursday to discuss "the deterioration of the human rights situation in Ukraine."

Japan weighing impact of oil embargo

Industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said Japan was deciding on an embargo on Russian oil, while considering its impact on the economy.

"We would like to consider a method of phasing out over time in a way that minimizes adverse effects on people's lives and business activities," he said at a press conference.

He said Japan could not immediately move away from importing Russian oil, but will gradually move towards independence from it.

Biden says Putin does not have a way out of Ukraine war

US President Joe Biden said he is worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have a way out of the Ukraine war, while speaking at a political fundraiser on Monday.

He said Putin "doesn't have a way out right now, and I'm trying to figure out what we do about that."

Biden added that Putin had mistakenly believed the invasion of Ukraine would break up NATO and European Union. However, the US and other European countries have rallied to support Ukraine.

Seven missiles fired at Odesa shopping center, warehouse

Russian forces fired seven missiles on Monday night air towards the port city of Odesa in southern Ukraine, Kyiv's military said.

A shopping center and a warehouse were hit, killing one and injuring five people. Photos showed the warehouse engulfed in flames.

"While seeking strategic targets, obsolete missiles managed to hit an 'extremely dangerous' shopping center and a warehouse for consumer goods,'' Natalya Gumenyuk, a military spokeswoman, said on Facebook.

Pentagon: Signs that Ukrainians are being 'taken against their will' to Russia 

The Pentagon on Monday said that it had seen "indications" that Ukrainian citizens are been forcibly relocated to Russia.

"We do have indications that Ukrainians are being taken against their will into Russia," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Kirby's statement was in response to Kyiv's claim that around 1.2 million people had been sent to Russia, and had been placed in camps.

Kirby said he was unable to comment on the number of camps or what they looked like.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in April that thousands of people had been sent to Russia.

Kirby said these actions were "unconscionable."

US president signs bill to help speed up military aid to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden on Monday signed the Lend-Lease Act on Monday in a bid to help speed up the shipment of weapons to Ukraine.

Previously the US had adopted the measure to help allies in the fight against Nazi Germany.

Congress is set to spend billions more to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia with Democrats preparing $40 billion (€37 billion) in military and humanitarian aid.

"We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort," Biden said in a statement, and pushed for Congress to get the Ukraine funding bill "to my desk right away."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the move in a tweet, calling it a "historic step."

Summary of Monday's events in Russia's war on Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia's military operation in Ukraine was necessary because the West was "preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea," during the May 9 parade in Moscow. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country would not let the history of victory over Nazi Germany "be appropriated" as Moscow marked the 77th anniversary of World War II.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would respond to Ukraine's request to join the 27-member bloc in June. 

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace slammed "the absurdity" of Russia's bemedaled military top brass at the annual Victory Day parade in Moscow, saying: "All professional soldiers should be appalled at the behavior of the Russian Army."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held a video conference with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. According to German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit, talks focused on how the conflict in Ukraine has impacted global food supplies and energy security.

French President Emmanuel Macron made his first trip to Berlin since winning reelection. Both Macron and Chancellor Scholz agreed that only a permanent withdrawal of all Russian troops could end the war, but that a truce was a good interim solution.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was traveling to Budapest to discuss "issues related to European security of energy supply," as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban continues to push back against an all-out embargo on Russian oil.

Catch up on Monday's events in Ukraine here

jsi, kb/wd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)