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Ukraine Daily Summary - Thursday, 19 May 2022

Russians hit school in Avdiivka with banned phosphorus bombs -- Some Russian units refuse to fight -- Azovstal bombing may send Azov Sea to brink of extinction -- Russia commits summary executions, torture, grave abuses in Chernihiv, Kyiv oblasts -- and more

Ukraine Daily

Thursday, 19 May 2022

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Russia’s war against Ukraine


The city of Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast on May 10, 2022. Mariupol has been besieged and heavily bombarded by the Russian military since early March. (AFP via Getty Images)

Kuleba describes what Ukraine will consider as victory over Russia. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Dutch newspaper NRC that the list includes: the liberation of Russian-occupied territories, including Donbas and Crimea, the payment of reparations by Russia, trials for Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity, and European integration for Ukraine.

UK Defense Ministry: Kadyrov’s cousin likely acted as field commander in Mariupol. Russia deployed Chechens closely linked to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov among auxiliary forces in Mariupol. The combat deployment of such individuals highlights Russia’s resource problems in Ukraine, resulting in fragmented command, the ministry said in an update on May 18.

Ukraine dismisses claim that Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant supplying electricity to Russia. Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo dismissed Russia’s claim about the Russian-seized nuclear plant, saying: “Ukraine’s power system currently has no physical connections with Russia’s power system. Therefore, the supply of electricity from Ukrainian power plants to Russia is currently physically impossible.”

CNN: NATO expects ‘standstill’ in battlefield in coming weeks. According to an unnamed NATO military official, no significant gains for either side are predicted, although momentum has shifted in Ukraine’s favor. Discussions are reportedly ongoing over whether Ukraine can retake Russian-occupied regions of Crimea and Donbas.

Zelensky proposes extending martial law in Ukraine until end of summer. President Volodymyr Zelensky has submitted a draft bill set to prolong martial law in Ukraine for 90 days. Zelensky imposed martial law on Feb. 24, with the current law set to expire on May 24.

Ukraine’s military: Russia prepares press tour of temporarily-occupied Ukrainian regions. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reports that the Russian occupiers prepare a press tour for Russian and foreign journalists to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The media representatives are supposed to visit Kherson, Nova Kakhovka, Skadovsk, and Armiansk.

Podoliak: Ukraine-Russia peace talks are currently impossible. Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to the presidential administration, told NV radio that Russia still hasn’t fully realized the consequences of its war on Ukraine and the impact of Western sanctions. According to Podoliak, Russia continues to have illusions that it can achieve military success in Ukraine.

Donetsk Oblast Governor: Russians hit school in Avdiivka with banned phosphorus bombs. People in the building managed to escape before the school was burned to the ground, said Pavlo Kyrylenko on May 18.

Russian soldier pleads guilty to killing civilian in Sumy Oblast. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is the first Russian soldier standing trial in Ukraine for war crimes. According to the prosecution, Shishimarin killed a 62-year-old civilian in Ukraine’s northern Sumy Oblast in late Feb. during Russia’s retreat. Shishimarin pleaded guilty and is now facing a life sentence for violating the laws of war.

Ukraine intelligence: some Russian units refuse to fight. Several units of the 70th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade have already openly refused to take part in the war, according to the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate. Servicemen who demanded to return to Russia were instead sent to the most dangerous part of the front, Ukraine’s intelligence said.

Security Service of Ukraine: Russian-led militants, agents receive 8-13 years in prison. SBU spokesperson Artem Dekhtyarenko said that two Kremlin-led militants from Luhansk Oblast captured in March were sentenced them to eight and 10 years, respectively. In Rivne Oblast, a Russian spy was sentenced to 13 years in prison for collecting intelligence on the deployment of Ukrainian troops and equipment, Dekhtyarenko added.

Russia’s Kursk Oblast Governor says Ukraine attacked border villages. Two villages in Russia’s western region of Kursk bordering Ukraine came under fire on May 18, regional governor Roman Starovoit said, blaming the Ukrainian forces for the attack. No casualties were reported.

Ukraine’s military: Russian forces sustain heavy casualties, equipment losses. According Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russia has lost 20 armored vehicles, a cruise missile, and an Su-34 bomber over the past 24 hours. Ukraine’s Air Force has also successfully carried out a mission destroying a Russian equipment depot.

State Border Guard Service: More people returning than leaving Ukraine. 37,000 people entered Ukraine in the past 24 hours, 33,000 of whom are Ukrainians, whereas 31,000 people left the country. According to Ukrainian news site Ukrainska Pravda, it’s the eighth day in a row that more people have entered Ukraine than left it. Over six million people have left Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UNHCR.


Russia claims 959 Ukrainian soldiers taken captive from Azovstal. Ukrainian authorities had said on May 16 that 264 people were taken from the steel plant in Mariupol to Russian-controlled cities, where they will likely be up for prisoner exchange. Earlier reports by Ukrainian officials suggest that approximately 1,000 people were at the plant.

Kremlin-led proxies claim Ukrainian commanders remain at Azovstal. Russian proxies in Donetsk Oblast claim that top-ranking commanders defending the Azovstal steel plant were not among the 960 soldiers that surrendered to Russian forces. Amnesty International has urged that those who have surrendered should be given immediate access to the International Red Cross.

Russian media: Russia wants to demolish captured Azovstal. According to Kremlin-controlled RIA Novosti media outlet, Russia and its proxies are set to demolish the Azovstal steel mill, which was the last Ukrainian stronghold in the city of Mariupol.

Mariupol City Council: Azovstal bombing may send Azov Sea to brink of extinction. Russia’s indiscriminate bombing of the steel plant may damage its facilities storing thousands of tons of hazardous chemicals. If leaked, all marine life in the Azov Sea may be killed, threatening additional ecological disasters in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The pictures published by Mariupol City Council are illustrations of the potential consequences, not real photos.

The human cost of Russia’s war

Human Rights Watch: Russia commits summary executions, torture, grave abuses in Chernihiv, Kyiv oblasts. A report published on May 18 said Russian forces in northeastern Ukraine committed “apparent war crimes” from late Feb. through to March, 2022. The human rights group investigated 22 apparent summary executions, nine unlawful killings, six possible enforced disappearances, and seven cases of torture across 17 communities in the regions.

Ukraine’s military: Russian forces kill 15 civilians in Luhansk, Donetsk oblasts on May 18. Russia shelled 46 settlements, destroying or damaging over 40 residential buildings, two schools, a kindergarten, and other civilian infrastructure. Among those killed are two families with children.

Russian troops fire on fleeing civilians in Kherson Oblast. Head of Kryvyi Rih Regional Military Administration Oleksandr Vilkul said on May 18 that three people are dead and six wounded due to a Russian attack near the village of Davydiv Brid.

State Emergency Service: Russian missile hits residential area in Mykolaiv. A missile struck a residential area in the western part of Mykolaiv on the morning of May 18, destroying several houses and wounding one citizen.

Police: Russian shelling kills 1 person, wounds 3 children in Donetsk Oblast. Russian forces shelled Donetsk Oblast 28 times over 24 hours on May 18, destroying 52 sites of civilian infrastructure. One of the injured children is only nine years old.

Death toll due to Russian airstrike on Bakhmut increases to 5 people. On May 17, Russia dropped a bomb on a five-story apartment building in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast. Among the victims is a two-year-old child, the regional prosecutor’s office said. Four other civilians, including three children aged nine, 12 and 17, were seriously injured.

International response

European Commission allocates $260 million to EU countries assisting most Ukrainian refugees. Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic will receive 248 million euros to help manage their borders and assist with the provision of food, transportation, and shelter to those fleeing Russia’s war.

Poland to send 25,000 tons of gasoline to Ukraine. Economy Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko said on May 18 that Ukraine will receive fuel starting next week, reports Polskie Radio broadcasting service.

Blinken: US to provide additional $215 million in emergency food aid to Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on May 18 that he also expects Congress to authorize an additional $5.5 billion in support for humanitarian assistance and food security.

Bulgaria to redirect around $53 million in reform funding to assist Ukrainian refugees. According to Bulgarian National Radio, the money will go towards assisting Ukrainian refugees with transportation, food and other forms of assistance, and education.

Reuters: US has no right to seize Russian central bank assets. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that discussions are ongoing surrounding how to get Russia to pay for Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction.

Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry: Russia expels French, Spanish, Italian diplomats. A total of 85 employees are forced to leave Russia. The move is in response to similar actions taken by the three countries.

Welt: European Parliament to propose sanctions against former German Chancellor, Austrian ex-Foreign Minister. Austria’s Karin Kneissl has been on the supervisory board of the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft since 2021 and Germany’s Gerhard Schröder is the chairman of the supervisory board for the same organization.

Yellen: US unlikely to extend Russia’s debt-payment license, increasing risk of default. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen confirmed on May 18 that the license, which expires on May 25 and allows payments to U.S. bondholders, is unlikely to be extended for Russia. Yellen added that the move won’t significantly change the situation in Russia, as “they’re already cut off from global capital markets.” Russia currently has $40 billion in international bonds.

Canada recognizes deportation of Crimean Tatars as genocide. Canadian parliament voted unanimously to condemn the Soviet Union’s mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula in 1944, which Russia continues to deny.

In other news

Belarus implements death penalty for ‘attempted terrorism.’ Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko signed a law on May 18 expanding the death penalty to include merely planning terrorist attacks. Previously, such punishment could not be given for an “unfinished crime.” Human rights groups fear this move will further threaten Belarusian activists and political opposition.

US embassy reopens in Kyiv. The embassy closed on Feb. 14, 10 days prior to the beginning of Russia’s an all-out war against Ukraine. The U.S. flag was raised over the embassy on May 18, after which U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed the embassy is “officially resuming operations.“

Croatia, Turkey to block accession of Sweden, Finland from NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cited the countries’ alleged support of “terrorist groups“ that pose a threat to Turkey’s national security. Erdogan accused Sweden and Finland of harboring members of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a recognized terrorist group in Turkey, the U.S., and the EU. Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said he would instruct the Croatia’s permanent representative to NATO to vote against NATO accession for Sweden and Finland. Milanovic said their accession depends on Bosnia and Herzegovina changing its electoral law, which he asserts is harming Croats as a political entity.

US Senate approves Bridget Brink as Ambassador to Ukraine. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on May 18 that Brink’s new role confirms “U.S. support for Ukraine is only growing.” The position has been vacant for three years.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Asami Terajima, Alexander Query, Olga Rudenko, Natalia Datskevych, Oleksiy Sorokin, Teah Pelechaty, Sergiy Slipchenko, Olena Goncharova, and Toma Istomina.

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