42,000 NATO soldiers and 120 aircraft on high alert Twelve dead and dozens injured in Sievjerodonetsk, Ukraine Belarus buys Iskander missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft system in Russia The developments in the Ukraine war in the stern ticker.
Day 85 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: In Ukraine, fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continued on Thursday night. In Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy prepared the population for a long-lasting war and called for the extension of martial law by 90 days until August.
Meanwhile, efforts to get Sweden and Finland to join NATO continue. As a sign of support, US President Joe Biden will receive top officials from the two Nordic countries, which have so far been neutral. However, Turkey is still opposed and has reservations about admission. However, European and US diplomats expressed confidence that the problem could be solved.
News of the war in Ukraine for Thursday, May 19:
10:12 p.m.: 230,000 Ukrainian children brought to Russia
1.36 million people have been brought to Russia from the contested areas of Ukraine since the fighting began. According to the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, more than 230,000 of them are children. People were brought to safety from Ukrainian areas such as the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. 17,700 people were evacuated on Thursday, including 2,370 children. The Kiev leadership accuses the Russian troops of preventing people from fleeing to Ukrainian-controlled territory. Most Ukrainians did not go to Russia voluntarily, but were deported.
9:48 p.m .: Ukrainian commanders are said to be still in the steelworks
According to their own statements, the commanders of the last military resistance of Ukraine in Mariupol are still in the Azovstal Steel Plant. Ukrainian media circulated a video showing the deputy commander of the Azov regiment Svyatoslav Palamar. “I and the command are at the Azovstal factory site. There is a certain operation going on, the details of which I will not say anything. We thank the whole world, we thank Ukraine,” said Palamar. The authenticity of the video could not be checked immediately, and it was widely discussed in the Ukrainian media. According to Russian information, since the beginning of the week 1,730 Ukrainian gunmen have surrendered, hiding in the branched bunkers under the steelworks. They were taken prisoner of war.
8:55 p.m .: 42,000 NATO soldiers and 120 aircraft on high alert
According to the commander-in-chief of NATO forces in Europe, more than 42,000 soldiers and 120 combat aircraft under his command are currently on high alert. Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there have been reactions in all areas and in all regions to protect the Allies, said US General Tod Wolters after a meeting of the chiefs of staff of the 30 NATO countries. The number of NATO land forces has increased tenfold, and the number of combat aircraft patrolling the airspace has increased by 50 percent.
According to Wolters, more than 20 ships are under his command for deterrence and defense at sea. The permanent NATO naval units have been replenished, he said. After the deliberations, the chairman of the NATO military committee emphasized the importance of quick decisions in the current situation. “One thing we can say with certainty is that time is no longer our friend,” said Admiral Rob Bauer. “As we are a defensive alliance it is to a large extent our opponent who sets the schedule and that means we must always be prepared to expect the unexpected.”
8:51 p.m.: Sanctions against oligarchs – law for more effective enforcement
In response to the war in Ukraine, sanctions against Russian oligarchs in Germany are to be enforced more consistently. This goal is pursued by a law passed by the Bundestag. Among other things, it regulates responsibilities more clearly and improves the exchange of data between different authorities in order to facilitate access to assets such as villas, yachts and private jets.
Oligarchs who are on a sanctions list will also be required to disclose their assets. Otherwise, they face fines or imprisonment. The reason given was that the financial circumstances of those affected were often obscured by complex corporate structures. The FDP parliamentary group’s financial policy spokesman, Markus Herbrand, said the law was “a crucial step towards destroying Putin’s network and punching holes in the war chest.”
8:51 p.m .: Ukraine demands life imprisonment for war crimes
In the first Ukrainian war crimes trial, prosecutors have asked for life imprisonment for a Russian soldier accused of murdering an unarmed civilian. The state indictment sees the crime of war crimes and murder fulfilled, local media reported from the court. The day before, the 21-year-old suspect had confessed and described the crime at the start of the process. “There was a man there who was talking on the phone. Ensign Makeyev gave the order to shoot,” the soldier explained. After an initial refusal, he fired a short burst from his assault rifle.
The 62-year-old victim was killed a few meters from his home in the village of Chupakhivka. The group of five soldiers, who drove towards Russia in a stolen vehicle, confessed that they feared being betrayed to the Ukrainian armed forces.
7:59 p.m .: Twelve dead and dozens injured in Sievjerodonetsk, Ukraine
At least 12 people were killed in Russian artillery shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievjerodonetsk, authorities said. More than 40 other people were injured, as the military governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajdaj, told the Telegram news service. The information could not initially be independently verified. According to Hajdaj, residential buildings have been targeted. Troops of the Russian army and Luhansk separatists are attacking the city with the seat of the regional administration from several sides.
Previously, the Ukrainian railways announced that they were storing hundreds of Russian soldiers’ bodies in freezer wagons. “We deliver and store any type of cargo,” the statement said. The state-owned company asked Russia to pick up the dead. At the same time, the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine issued the same request to Kyiv. Ukraine should take over the corpses of its own soldiers left behind during the retreat.
7:51 p.m .: Scholz blames Russia for the impending food crisis
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has warned of the danger of a “severe food crisis, especially in the global south” as a result of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “To put it bluntly: Russia alone is responsible for this,” he said in The Hague at a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Scholz pointed out that Russia is currently blocking the trade routes for grain exports from Ukraine. In order to counteract this crisis, Germany, as the G7 Presidency, set up the Alliance for Global Food Security at the Council of Development Ministers. “This alliance is open to anyone who does not want to stand by and see the world’s poorest paying the price for Russian aggression.”
7:49 p.m.: Mark Rutte excludes more gas from Groningen
In view of the energy crisis, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has ruled out any further significant increase in gas production from the fields in the north-eastern province of Groningen. “We will not expose 100,000 people there to an earthquake risk,” said Rutte in The Hague at a joint press conference with his German counterpart, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD).
The production of natural gas from the Groningen fields had been severely curtailed due to hundreds of earthquakes and major damage to buildings. The government had promised to stop funding by 2024 at the latest. Only in the greatest emergency, “if there is talk of a total gas crisis in Europe, will we look at Groningen again,” said Rutte. For years, the Netherlands had one of the largest natural gas deposits in Europe.
7:37 p.m.: Belarus buys Iskander missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft system in Russia
In the midst of the Ukraine conflict, Belarus continues to upgrade: ruler Alexander Lukashenko announced the purchase of nuclear-capable Iskander missiles and S-400 air defense systems from Russia. “We have reached an agreement with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” Lukashenko announced on Telegram. He did not give details about the number of weapon systems purchased.
As much was acquired as “needed” for the Belarusian army, Lukashenko said. “With weapons like that, it’s a completely different army.” In early May, Lukashenko, who has been in power in Belarus since 1994, accused the West of being “obsessed” with Nazi ideas and of being “at war against Russia” in Ukraine.
7:28 p.m .: US Congress passes 40 billion package for Ukraine
The US Congress has passed a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. After the House of Representatives, the Senate in Washington voted in favor of the package, which provides, among other things, six billion dollars for armored vehicles and air defense systems for the Ukrainian armed forces. There was a broad cross-party majority of 86 to 11 votes for the new Ukraine aid. Now President Joe Biden has yet to sign the law.
7.15 p.m .: Scholz: Bundestag decision on Schröder “logical”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the Bundestag’s decision to withdraw some of the special rights of former Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder (both SPD). “The decision of the German Bundestag with regard to the former Chancellor is logical and also one that will therefore also be implemented,” said Scholz in The Hague in a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
However, Scholz rejected EU sanctions against Schröder. “That is the decision that is necessary now, I don’t think any more are necessary.” Scholz added: “It would be best if Gerhard Schröder resigned from his post.”
7:12 p.m .: Chiefs of staff of Russia and the USA spoke about the Ukraine war
After almost three months of war, the US and Russian chiefs of staff held talks on the situation in Ukraine. At Washington’s initiative, Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov and his US counterpart Mark Milley discussed issues of mutual interest, including the situation in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said in Moscow. Details were not given.
6:41 p.m .: Russia: Connection of South Ossetia depends on many factors
Russia has shown reluctance ahead of a referendum on accession to the South Ossetia region, which has broken away from Georgia. “First of all, we will look at how the South Ossetian citizens vote,” said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko, according to the Interfax agency. The leadership of the conflict region has scheduled the referendum for July 17. “Here it is necessary to consider a whole bundle of factors, including the current geopolitical situation,” said Rudenko.
5.43 p.m .: Ukraine reports at least twelve dead from Russian shelling of Severodonetsk
At least 12 people have been killed in Russian bombing raids in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, according to the regional governor. 40 others were injured, said the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gajdaj, via Telegram. The Russian armed forces attacked “indiscriminately with heavy weapons” in the morning. In particular, residential buildings were hit.
“The bombings continue,” Gajdaj added. The number of victims could therefore increase. Severodonetsk – one of the few major cities in the region still in Ukrainian hands – is almost completely encircled by Russian troops.
5 p.m.: Biden: The accession of Finland and Sweden makes NATO stronger
US President Joe Biden has expressed his full support for Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO bids. At a White House press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Biden said he was proud to support the two countries’ bids to join the “strongest and most powerful defense alliance in world history.” “Finland and Sweden are making NATO stronger.” A strong NATO is the basis for US security.
4:32 p.m .: The Bundeswehr flies war injured Ukrainians to Germany again
The Bundeswehr again flies war-wounded Ukrainians from Poland to Germany for medical treatment. For this purpose, the special aircraft A310 MedEvac started in Cologne, as the Air Force announced on Twitter. So far, 111 patients have been flown out this way. The A310 MedEvac is the Air Force’s flying intensive care unit. The injured are treated further in the air by medical personnel. This time the patients were brought to Hamburg. The machine landed there in the afternoon, as dpa photo reporters reported. According to the Bundeswehr medical service, 33 patients and six accompanying persons should be on board the machine, who are now being taken to clinics in Hamburg and the surrounding federal states for further treatment according to the so-called cloverleaf system.
3.55 p.m .: Germany gives Ukraine budget support of around one billion euros
Germany will support Ukraine with short-term budget support of around one billion euros. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) announced this at the meeting of G7 finance ministers on Petersberg near Bonn. It is about grants that are to be paid from the 2022 budget without having to take on additional debt. It is about ensuring the ability of the war-torn Ukrainian state to act.
3:49 p.m .: Moscow ties the opening of Ukrainian ports to the lifting of sanctions
Russia has tied a possible opening of Ukrainian ports to grain exports to a partial lifting of Western sanctions against Moscow. “If our partners want to reach a solution, then the problems associated with lifting sanctions imposed on Russian exports must also be solved,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said, according to the Interfax agency.
The international community has been demanding that Russia allow the export of Ukrainian grain for weeks. Ukraine complains that its ports in the Black Sea are blocked by the Russian Navy. Both countries are among the largest wheat exporters and play an important role in global food security.
3:31 p.m .: Russia wants to cut off Ukraine’s power supply through Zaporizhia nuclear power plant
Russia wants to cut off Ukraine’s electricity supply to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant if Kyiv does not pay for the electricity produced there. If Kyiv complies, the power plant occupied by the Russian army will continue to produce electricity for Ukraine, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chusnullin. Otherwise the power plant will “produce for Russia”.
The Ukrainian nuclear authority Energoatom said in the morning that the nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, will continue to supply Ukraine with electricity. A spokesman doubted Russia’s ability to redirect the energy to itself. “It takes time and money. It’s like building a bridge in Crimea.”
3 p.m .: Gas storage in the EU should be 80 percent full by winter
The gas storage facilities in the European Union should be at least 80 percent full by next winter: Representatives of the member states and the European Parliament in Brussels agreed on this, as the Council of the EU announced. The EU Commission proposed the minimum fill levels in March.
In Brussels, there are fears that Russia could turn off the gas supply to the EU countries in the Ukraine war. Moscow had already carried out its threat to Poland and Bulgaria in April. Therefore, as a precaution, the national gas storage facilities in the EU countries should be 80 percent full by November 1, and even 90 percent in the following winters.
2.45 p.m .: Kremlin: Ukrainians in occupied territories should decide for themselves
According to the Kremlin, the people in the areas occupied by Russian troops in Ukraine should determine their own future. The will of the people there is crucial, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Interfax agency. “Nothing can be done without them deciding for themselves how and with whom they should continue to live.” Peskov commented on Moscow politicians who had said about the occupied territory of Kherson that Russia came there to stay.
2:27 p.m .: After war criticism on Russian TV: military expert rows back
A few days ago, a military expert surprised many people with an astonishingly pessimistic war forecast on Russian state television, which is actually loyal to the Kremlin. Now Mikhail Khodaryonok has publicly backed down. To believe that the Ukrainians could launch a counterattack is “a great exaggeration,” said the 68-year-old on the program “60 minutes”.
The political talk show, this time titled “Achievements of the Russian Air and Space Forces,” was the same one in which Khodaryonok said just Monday that the Ukrainian armed forces were far from disintegrating nearly three months after the start of the war.
2:11 p.m .: Russia expels five Portuguese diplomats
In response to the expulsion of ten Russian diplomats from Portugal, Russia has decided to expel five Portuguese diplomats. The Portuguese ambassador had been summoned, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow announced. There the protest against the “provocative decision” of the Portuguese government to expel the Russian diplomats was brought to him.
Portuguese diplomats now have 14 days to leave Russia. The government in Lisbon declared that Russia’s decision could only be understood as a “retaliatory measure”. “Unlike the Russian diplomats expelled from Portugal, the Portuguese diplomats only carried out diplomatic activities in accordance with the Vienna Convention,” it said.
1 p.m.: Russian soldier asks for “forgiveness” in court in Kyiv
The first Russian soldier to be tried for war crimes in Kyiv since the beginning of the Ukraine war has asked a court for “forgiveness”. “I know that you cannot forgive me, but I still ask for your forgiveness,” said 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin at the hearing in Kyiv to the wife of the 62-year-old civilian whose killing he had already confessed to.
Shishimarin is accused of shooting the unarmed man in a stolen car on February 28 in the northern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka. When asked in court if he pleaded guilty, he replied “yes.” The soldier from Irkutsk, Siberia faces a life sentence for war crimes and murder.
12.41 p.m .: The EU Parliament calls for sanctions against ex-Chancellor Schröder
A large majority of the European Parliament voted in favor of EU sanctions against ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The reason for this is the SPD politician’s continued work for Russian state-owned companies such as the energy company Rosneft, as can be seen from a resolution adopted in Brussels.
12.02 p.m .: EU agrees on mandatory gas reserves
In order to secure the energy supply in the EU, gas storage tanks must in future be filled to a minimum before winter. Representatives of the EU states and the European Parliament agreed on a corresponding law. It stipulates that the gas storage tanks will be 80 percent full by November 1st this year, and 90 percent by the same date in the coming years. The obligation should expire at the end of 2025, as the Council of the EU states announced. The decision on the law still has to be confirmed by the Council of the EU States and the European Parliament, but this is considered a formality.
11:49 a.m.: The Red Cross registers prisoners of war from the Asovstal steelworks
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has registered several hundred Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal Steelworks in the port city of Mariupol who are now in Russian captivity. For this purpose, their names and dates of birth as well as the names of their closest relatives were recorded, as reported by the ICRC in Geneva. According to the organization, which takes care of those affected by armed conflicts all over the world, it was not involved in the transport of the soldiers. She now wants to ensure that prisoners can get in touch with relatives.
Hundreds of soldiers had holed up in the steelworks for weeks. Hundreds of civilians also sought refuge there.
10.44 a.m .: Kyiv complains about “second-class treatment” by “certain” EU countries
The Ukrainian government has called for a clear prospect of EU accession and has clearly criticized the attitude of some EU countries in the process. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba complained about “second-class treatment” by “certain” EU countries in the online service Twitter. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had previously dampened expectations in a speech in the Bundestag that Ukraine could go through a faster EU accession process.
10:06 a.m.: According to Moscow, 1730 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in Mariupol
According to Russian information, most of the fighters from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol have now surrendered. In the past 24 hours alone, more than 770 Ukrainians have been captured there, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow said. This would have surrendered 1730 fighters at the beginning of the week. It was unclear how many people were still on the factory premises. According to earlier Russian information, there should be a few hundred more.
The Ukrainian side did not initially confirm the numbers. At the beginning of the week, Kyiv spoke of a little more than 260 evacuated soldiers and then only announced that the “humanitarian operation” would continue. Looking at the numbers now published by Russia, a complete conquest of Mariupol could become apparent after almost three months of war.
9.35 a.m .: Scholz clearly rejects dictated peace in Ukraine
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has clearly rejected a dictated peace in Ukraine enforced militarily by Russia. “There will be no dictated peace because the Ukrainians don’t accept it and neither do we,” said Scholz in a government statement in the Bundestag.
“We all have one goal in common: Russia must not win this war, Ukraine must survive,” emphasized Scholz. Only when Russian President Vladimir Putin understands that he cannot break Ukraine’s defense capability will he “be ready to seriously negotiate peace,” said the Chancellor. For this it is important to strengthen the defense capability of Ukraine.
7.13 a.m .: Russian border region accuses Ukraine of shelling with one fatality
The governor of the western Russian region of Kursk has accused Ukraine of shelling a town near the border. A civilian was killed in the night in the village of Tyotkino, Governor Roman Starovoit wrote in the Telegram news service. A number of houses were also damaged. According to Russian sources, Tjotkino was attacked on Wednesday. The Belgorod region, which is also close to the border, had also reported shelling. Ukraine initially did not comment on the allegations, the Russian information could not initially be independently verified.
6.31 a.m .: The USA and Ukraine speak of looting and abuse in Mariupol
The US has accused Russian forces of severe abuse in the embattled port city of Mariupol. A US official said Wednesday that Russian soldiers “beat up” and “electrocuted” Ukrainian officials there. They would also “loot houses”. Russian officials are “concerned that these acts may further incite Mariupol residents to resist Russian occupation,” he said.
The Mariupol city government said on Telegram that the Russians were trying to “put the trading port back in order to export grain, metal goods and other products worth millions of dollars.” It’s “theft”.
5.37 a.m .: The United States has reopened the embassy in Kyiv
The US has reopened its embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv after a three-month closure. “We are officially resuming work at the US Embassy in Kyiv today,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday. The US flag was hoisted again at the embassy building. “The Ukrainian people, with our security support, defended their homeland against the ruthless Russian invasion, and as a result, the Stars and Stripes (US national flag) again flies over the embassy,” Blinken said. Washington had closed its embassy in Kyiv ten days before the start of the February 24 Russian attack on Ukraine, temporarily relocating embassy activities first to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and then to Poland.
2.08 a.m .: Baerbock: Russia uses hunger as a weapon of war
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has accused Russia of using the blockade of grain exports from Ukraine as a weapon of war. “Russia has started a grain war that is fueling a global food crisis,” Baerbock (Greens) said during a foreign ministers’ meeting at the United Nations in New York. Moscow does this by not only blockading Ukrainian ports, but also destroying silos, roads, railways and fields. According to information from the federal government, Russia is preventing the export of 20 million tons of grain in Ukraine, most of it in the port of Odessa.
“Russia is not only waging its brutal war with tanks, missiles and bombs,” Baerbock said. “Russia is waging this war with another terrible and quieter weapon: hunger and deprivation.” This is happening at a time when millions in the Middle East and Africa are already at risk of starvation.
1.15 a.m .: Selenskyj promises help to victims of the Russian occupation
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has promised special state aid to all victims of the Russian occupation in his country. He signed a corresponding law, said Zelenskyj in his evening video address. He did not give details. The aid also applies to “all prisoners of the Kremlin,” as he put it, in Crimea or in the Russian-occupied part of the Donbass.
1.07 a.m .: Melnyk: Ukraine’s NATO accession would reduce the risk of a nuclear war
In view of the planned NATO accession of Sweden and Finland, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, considers his country’s NATO accession to be feasible. “One thing is clear: we want to join NATO quickly. That can happen just as quickly as in the case of Sweden or Finland. It would only take a purely political decision to quickly integrate Ukraine into the alliance,” said Melnyk to the newspapers of the Funke media group. “If Ukraine were in the alliance, the risk of a nuclear war would decrease. Then Putin would know: If Ukraine were attacked with nuclear weapons, he would have to reckon with a nuclear retaliation. That would prevent him from doing so.” Melnyk also believes that Ukraine’s EU membership is possible within the next ten years.
12:00 a.m .: Zelenskyj prepares Ukrainians for a long war
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy prepares the population of his country, which has been attacked by Russia, for a longer war. In his video address on Wednesday evening, he gave hope to the people in the Russian-held areas in the south that Ukraine would liberate them. “Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Enerhodar, Mariupol and all our cities and towns that are under occupation, under temporary occupation, should know that Ukraine will return,” he said. How long this will take depends on the situation on the battlefield. “We’re trying to do it as soon as possible. We have an obligation to drive out the occupiers and to guarantee real security for Ukraine,” he said in Kyiv.
In this context he also put the announced extension of martial law and general mobilization by a further 90 days until August 23. “Our army and everyone defending the state must have all the legal means to act calmly,” said Zelenskyy.