Latest Ukraine updates: Kherson seeks annexation

Latest Ukraine news from May 11: Pro-Kremlin administration in southern Ukrainian region says it will ask to be incorporated into Russia by 2023.

Pro-Russian troops are seen driving a tank in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region.
Russia's offensive in Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced millions of others and destroyed hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of infrastructure [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]
  • Pro-Moscow authorities in Ukraine’s occupied southern region of Kherson say they plan to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to incorporate the territory into Russia by the end of this year.
  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he does not foresee peace talks taking place in the immediate future and warns that the war is threatening global food security.
  • Ukrainian officials warn of “medieval” conditions in Mariupol as Moscow continues its push for complete control of the southeastern port city.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the United Kingdom has struck new security deals with Sweden and Finland aimed at bolstering European security.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 77_May 11

This live blog is now closed, thanks for joining us. Here are the updates for May 11.

Zelenskyy discusses more Russia sanctions with Germany’s Scholz

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he discussed defensive aid, energy sector cooperation and increasing sanctions on Russia in a call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“We appreciate the high level of dialogue with Germany and support in our struggle!” he said in a tweet.

A German government spokesperson said the Chancellor and the Ukrainian president “exchanged views on very concrete, practical ways of continuing to support Ukraine and agreed to remain in close contact,” giving no further details.

One dead, three wounded in Russia after Ukraine attack: Belgorod governor

One person died and three more have been injured in southwestern Russia as a result of shelling from Ukraine, the governor of Belgorod has said.

“As of now, one person lost his life, he died in an ambulance, and there are three wounded,” the governor of the southwestern region of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on messaging app Telegram.

Ukraine proposes swapping injured Azovstal fighters for Russian prisoners

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Ukraine has proposed to swap badly injured fighters in the Azovstal plant in the port of Mariupol for Russian prisoners of war.

Vereshchuk said the remaining Ukrainian soldiers would be evacuated through humanitarian corridors while the Russians would be released following standard procedures for the exchange of prisoners of war.

She added that the government was working around different options to find an actionable one. “There is no agreement yet. Negotiations are continuing,” she said on Telegram.

Pro-Russian hackers target Italy defence ministry, senate websites: Reports

Pro-Russian hackers have attacked the websites of several Italian institutions, including the defence ministry and the senate, ANSA news agency has reported.

The hacker group “Killnet” claimed the attack, which also involved the National Health Institute (ISS) and the Automobile Club d’Italia, a national drivers’ association.

The websites were offline at 7pm (1700 GMT). The defence ministry website displayed a message saying it was under maintenance. Police said an investigation was ongoing, but made no further comment.

Wives of Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal ask Pope Francis for help

The wives of the Ukrainian soldiers trapped at Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant have met Pope Francis at the Vatican to ask him to intervene to “save the lives” of their loved ones.

“We asked him to come to Ukraine, to talk to Putin, to tell him ‘Let them go’. He just said he would pray for us,” Kateryna Prokopenko told reporters after the brief encounter.

Her husband, Denis Prokopenko, is one of the leaders of the Azov regiment. Ukraine’s military leadership has played down hopes of rescuing its fighters by launching an offensive against the Russian troops surrounding them.

Wives of Ukrainian Azov soldiers currently trapped inside the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol meet with Pope Francis.
The wives of the Ukrainian soldiers met Pope Francis after his weekly general audience on St Peter’s Square. [Vatican Media/­Reuters]

Russia sanctions Gazprom Germania and owner of Polish part of Yamal-Europe

Russia has imposed sanctions against units of Gazprom Germania, in which its gas producer Gazprom ceded ownership, and against EuRoPol GAZ SA, owner of the Polish part of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline.

The list of sanctioned entities published by the Russian government on its website includes 31 companies. It did not specify the nature of the sanctions to be imposed.

Under a decree issued by President Vladimir Putin, no Russian entity is allowed to make deals with the entities under sanctions or fulfil its obligations under existing deals.

UK says NATO does not pose a threat to anyone

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said NATO is a defensive alliance that does not pose a threat to any other country, as Sweden and Finland consider joining the organisation.

“NATO is a defensive alliance. NATO poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defence,” Johnson said in a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Helsinki.

Putin does not want to take on NATO: Pentagon

The United States does not believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to militarily take on the NATO alliance, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said.

“As you look at Putin’s calculus, my view – and I’m sure the chairman has his own view – but my view is that Russia doesn’t want to take on the NATO alliance,” Austin said during a congressional hearing.

Ukraine shuts off Russian pipeline to Western Europe

Ukraine has shut down a pipeline that carries Russian natural gas to homes and industries in Western Europe.

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it moved to stop the flow of Russian gas through a compressor station in part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists because enemy forces were interfering with the station’s operation and siphoning off gas.

The immediate effect of the energy cutoff is likely to be limited as Russia can divert the gas to another pipeline. However, it marked the first time since the start of the war that Ukraine disrupted the flow westward of one of Moscow’s most lucrative exports.

Italy’s Draghi says rouble payments for Russian gas ‘a grey zone’

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said there was a lack of clarity on whether Moscow’s demand that European buyers pay for Russian gas in roubles breaches European Union sanctions.

“There is no official pronouncement of what it means to breach sanctions, nobody has ever said anything about whether roubles payments breach sanctions or not, how these payments are organised, so it’s such a grey zone here,” he said during a visit to the United States.

“As a matter of fact most of the gas importers have already opened their accounts in roubles with Gazprom,” he said, adding that he believed the largest gas importer in Germany had already paid in roubles. He did not name the company was referring to.

Top EU official backs multi-trillion plan to rebuild Ukraine

Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, has backed a multi-trillion-euro “Marshall”-style plan to rebuild Ukraine, saying Europe must not be left alone to foot the vast bill that he predicted could run into the trillions.

“What will it cost to rebuild, reconstruct Ukraine? Figures were flying around the room … but one thing is quite clear to me: We are not talking about millions but trillions” said Hoyer, a former German foreign office minister, told Reuters.

Under the post-World War II US scheme known as the Marshall Plan, the United States granted Europe the present-day equivalent of some $200bn over four years in economic and technical assistance.

First Russian soldier to face trial in Ukraine for alleged war crime

Ukraine’s prosecutor general has said a Russian soldier will stand trial for committing an alleged war crime in Ukraine for the first time since the war began.

Iryna Venediktova said in a post on Facebook that the man, identified as Vadim Shysimarin, is accused of killing an unarmed civilian in Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy region on February 28, four days after Moscow launched its offensive.

The 21-year-old is currently being held in custody. If convicted, he faces between 10 years to life in prison, Venediktova said.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

A pro-Russian soldier on guard in Mariupol
Kyiv has accused Russian forces of committing a slew of atrocities in Ukraine [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russia demands formal Polish apology for Warsaw anti-war protest

Russia has demanded a formal apology from Poland and threatened possible future reprisals for a protest in which Moscow’s ambassador to Warsaw was doused with red paint.

The ambassador, Sergey Andreev, was accosted by people protesting against Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as he went to lay flowers at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Warsaw on Monday, drawing a furious reaction from Moscow.

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned Polish Ambassador Krzysztof Krajewski to receive its protest.

“Russia expects an official apology from the Polish leadership in connection with the incident and demands the safety of the Russian ambassador and all employees of Russian foreign institutions in Poland are ensured,” it said in a statement.

It added a decision on further steps would be taken “depending on Warsaw’s reaction” to Moscow’s demands.

Russian spy boss compares US with German Nazi propaganda machine

A Russian spy chief has compared the US State Department with the World War II Nazi propaganda machine constructed by Joseph Goebbels, saying Washington had launched an anti-Russia messaging campaign across social media.

Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency (SVR), said the United States was encouraging the spreading of fake information on the popular Telegram messaging service to “discredit” and “dehumanise Russia’s political and military leadership in the eyes of the Russian people”.

“Their actions have a lot in common with the traditions of the Third Reich’s ministry of public education and propaganda and its head Joseph Goebbels,” Naryshkin said in a statement published on the SVR website.

Naryshkin provided no evidence to support the claims of a US-backed information campaign. Russia regularly accuses the West of funding and supporting anti-Kremlin movements and has labelled dozens of independent human rights groups and media outlets in Russia “foreign agents” over recent years.

World Bank says Ukraine war slowing global remittance growth

The war in Ukraine will help slow the growth of officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries to an estimated 4.2 percent this year from a strong 8.6 percent rebound in 2021, the World Bank says.

The World Bank said in its latest Migration and Development Brief that it expects remittances to Ukraine, the largest recipient in Europe and Central Asia, to rise by more than 20 percent in 2022, but remittance flows to many Central Asian countries will likely fall dramatically.

Russia, hit with crippling sanctions by Western countries over its invasion of Ukraine, is the main source of remittances to Central Asia.

Russian deputy foreign minister meets US ambassador in Moscow

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Ambassador John Sullivan have met in Moscow to discuss bilateral issues.

The US embassy said, “The United States remains committed to open channels of communication with the Russian government, both to advance US interests and to reduce the risk of miscalculation between our countries.”

Russia’s foreign ministry issued a short statement with no details of the conversation.

Ukraine warns of worsening conditions in ‘medieval ghetto’ Mariupol

Ukrainian officials have issued dire warnings about the fate of civilians and the last fighters in Mariupol after weeks of Russian bombardment.

“The [Russian] occupiers have turned Mariupol into a medieval ghetto,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko, who has left the city, said on national television.

“Without medicine and medical care, the restoration of the water supply and proper sewerage in the city, epidemics will erupt. Today, the majority of the current population is old and sick. Without proper conditions, mortality among vulnerable groups will increase exponentially.”

Boychenko’s remarks came as Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova appealed to the UN and Red Cross to help evacuate hundreds of wounded fighters holed up in the southeastern port city’s vast Azovstal steelworks, saying the destruction of a makeshift hospital there meant many were dying.

Ukraine will feel aftermath of war ‘for 100 years’: Scholz

Ukraine can expect to feel the aftermath of its war with Russia “for 100 years” because of unexploded ordnance littering cities, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said, adding that allies would help the country rebuild.

“Those who live in Germany know that bombs from World War II are still frequently discovered,” Scholz told reporters.

“Ukraine should brace itself to battle with the consequences of this war for 100 years. That is why we will also have to work together on the reconstruction,” he added.

A damaged church is seen in Lukashivka, northern Ukraine
Russia has bombarded vast swaths of Ukrainian territory since launching its invasion on February 24 [File: Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]

‘This game is up’: Serbia urged to take a stand on Ukraine’s war

Serbia enjoys warm ties with Moscow but in recent weeks, pro-government tabloids have turned on Putin and officials in the West have decried Belgrade for sitting on the fence over Russia’s invasion.

Read more here.

Russian shelling preventing Luhansk evacuations: Report

Russian shelling has made the evacuation of civilians from Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk impossible for the past three days, according to a Ukrainian news channel.

The Television News Service (TSN) showed footage of what is said were houses destroyed by Russian attacks and plumes of smoke caused by explosions in the area.

It said the highway linking the cities of Lysychansk, in Luhansk, and Bakhmut, in the neighbouring Donetsk region, was no longer safe for evacuations because of nearly constant bombardment.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the report.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Shelling damaged warehouse storing ammonium nitrate: Authorities

Local authorities in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk have told residents to go out as little as possible and to keep their windows shut because Russian shelling has damaged a warehouse storing ammonium nitrate nearby.

Ammonium nitrate is commonly used as a source of nitrogen for fertiliser and it can cause respiratory problems if inhaled in large quantities.

“We emphasise that there is no direct threat to the lives of the inhabitants of the Slovyansk community,” the city’s authorities said, adding that the warehouse was in the Kramatorsk area.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the report.

Swedish parliament to hold NATO debate as membership decision looms

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats have called a parliamentary debate over NATO membership for Monday as the country readies for what is expected to be a decision to join the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning decades of military non-alignment.

Sweden and neighbouring Finland are expected to opt to apply for NATO membership in the coming days after Moscow’s offensive triggered a radical rethink of their respective policy stances.

Ukraine says it has regained control of swaths of border areas

Ukraine has regained control of some 1,200km (750 miles) of the borders with Russia and Belarus after driving Moscow’s forces out, an official said.

Border official Leonid Baran said in televised remarks that two-thirds of the regained areas directly border Russia.

Ukraine says its forces have recently launched counteroffensives around the northeastern city of Kharkiv, liberating several key towns and villages in the region.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia summons Poland’s ambassador after Warsaw anti-war protest

The Polish ambassador to Russia has been summoned to the foreign ministry in Moscow, according to state media reports, two days after Russia’s envoy to Poland was doused with red paint in protest over the war.

Poland’s state-run news agency PAP quoted the country’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau as confirming the move from Moscow.

Russian ambassador to Poland, Siergiej Andriejew (C) was doused with red paint
Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreev was targeted by protesters in Warsaw on Monday at a cemetery dedicated to Red Army soldiers who died during World War II [Leszek Szymanski/EPA]

Swedish PM says pact with UK may include military resources

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson says that Sweden and the UK have agreed on mutual assistance in the case of crisis or attack, support that could include contributing military resources.

“In times of crisis, cooperation becomes even more important,” she said after talks with Johnson at the government’s country retreat south of Stockholm.

“If either country should suffer a disaster or an attack, the United Kingdom and Sweden will assist each other in a variety of ways. The support will be given on request by the affected country and may include military resources.”

Ukraine NATO membership would have prevented war: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the war with Russia would have been prevented if his country had been a member of NATO beforehand.

“If Ukraine had been part of NATO before the war, there would have been no war,” he told students at France’s Sciences Po university via video link.

Zelenskyy added that he wanted to restore the country’s territory before an end to the conflict could be envisioned, adding he was still willing to dialogue with Moscow.

Putin has repeatedly said the risk of seeing Ukraine become a member of NATO warranted Russia’s invasion.


Russia says it is closely watching NATO configuration on its borders

Russia is closely watching anything that can affect NATO’s configuration on its borders, the Kremlin’s spokesman says.

Dmitry Peskov’s remarks came as Sweden and Finland are expected to make decisions this month on whether to apply to join the US-led transatlantic military alliance.

UK strikes new security agreement with Sweden and Finland

Johnson says the UK has agreed on new deals with Sweden and Finland to bolster European security, pledging to support both countries’ armed forces should they come under attack.

“We are steadfast and unequivocal in our support to both Sweden and Finland and the signing of these security declarations is a symbol of the everlasting assurance between our nations,” the British prime minister said in a statement released to coincide with his visits to both countries.

The UK government said in a statement that Johnson would set out the UK’s “intention to support the two nations’ armed forces should either face crisis or come under attack” during his visits.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson
Johnson said the UK was ‘steadfast’ in its support for both Sweden and Finland [Christine Olsson/TT News Agency via Reuters]

Nearly 5 million jobs lost in Ukraine as war pummels economy: ILO

About 4.8 million jobs have been lost in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in late February as the conflict shut down businesses, strangled exports and drove millions to flee, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says.

The job losses, which account for about 30 percent of Ukraine’s workforce prior to Moscow launching its offensive, could climb to seven million if hostilities continue, the ILO said in a study.

It added that 3.4 million jobs could return rapidly in the event of a ceasefire.

The war could also drive up unemployment in neighbouring countries hosting millions of refugees and hit Central Asian economies as migrant workers in Russia lose their jobs and return home, the ILO said.

Kremlin says it’s up to Kherson residents whether to join Russia

Kremlin spokesman Peskov says it is up to residents living in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine to decide whether they want to join Russia.

Earlier, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted an official in the Moscow-controlled administration in Kherson as saying it planned to ask Putin to incorporate it into Russia.

But Peskov told reporters that any such decision must have a clear legal basis, “as was the case with Crimea”.

Moscow seized Crimea in early 2014 and a month later organised a referendum in the Black Sea peninsula on whether it should be annexed by Russia. The vote, which overwhelmingly backed annexation, was dismissed as illegitimate by Ukraine and the West.

People shout toward Russian army soldiers during a rally against the Russian occupation in Svobody (Freedom) Square in Kherson, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. Ever since Russian forces took the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson in early March, residents sensed the occupiers had a special plan for their town. Now, amid a crescendo of warnings from Ukraine that Russia plans to stage a sham referendum to transform the territory into a pro-Moscow "people's republic," it appears locals guessed right. (AP Photo/Olexandr Chornyi)
Russia has already introduced its rouble currency in the Kherson region, where residents have protested against Moscow’s occupation, to replace the Ukrainian hryvnia [File: Olexandr Chornyi/AP Photo]

Kharkiv ‘relatively quiet’ after Ukrainian counteroffensives: Governor

The governor of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region says the area is “relatively quiet” following Ukrainian forces’ reported recapture of several towns and villages from Russian troops during counteroffensive operations.

But Oleh Synehubov cautioned it was “impossible to lose vigilance” as Moscow continues its offensive and warned citizens against returning to “recently liberated settlements”.

“The enemy completely mined everything, including schools, kindergartens and private homes,” he said in a Telegram post.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

UN chief does not foresee Ukraine peace negotiations any time soon

UN chief Guterres has said he does not see any peace talks over ending the war taking place in the immediate future, but added the time will come when such discussions take place.

“This war will not last forever. There will be a time when peace negotiations will take place,” Guterres told a news conference in Vienna alongside Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.

“I do not see that in the immediate future. But I can say one thing. We will never give up,” he added.

Guterres also said he was deeply concerned about hunger becoming widespread as the war in Ukraine threatened food security in different parts of the world.

Russia’s invasion has disrupted shipping in the Black Sea, a major route for grains and other commodities, throttling exports from Ukraine and Russia and sending global prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser soaring.

Pro-Moscow leaders of Ukraine’s occupied Kherson seek to join Russia: Report

The Russian-occupied region of Kherson in Ukraine plans to ask Putin to incorporate it into Russia by the end of the year, TASS has reported, citing an official from the Moscow-controlled administration there.

“There will be a request to make the Kherson region a full-fledged constituent of the Russian Federation,” Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the regional military and civilian administration, was quoted by TASS as saying at a news conference.

“This will be one single decree based on the appeal of the leadership of the Kherson region to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” he added.

Russia said in April it had gained full control of the Kherson region, which is strategically important as it provides part of the land link between the Crimean Peninsula, seized from Ukraine in 2014, and Russian-backed separatist areas in the east of Ukraine.

‘No civilians left’ at Azovstal plant: Report

The leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine has said there are no civilians left inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks, according to a TASS report.

“According to our information, there are no civilians left there. Consequently, our units’ hands are no longer tied,” TASS quoted Denis Pushilin, whose Moscow-backed separatist forces have taken part in the assault on Mariupol, as saying.

Ukraine said on Tuesday that Russian forces were bombarding the steelworks, where a local official said at least 100 civilians were still holed up. Many wounded fighters are also believed to be in the bombed-out plant.

Kyiv had previously indicated that all civilians had left Azovstal, and Russia has said the evacuation of civilians from the site was complete.

Russia does not want war in Europe: Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister has said Moscow does not want war in Europe, but accused Western powers of seeking to “defeat Russia”.

“If you are worried about the prospect of war in Europe – we do not want that at all,” Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday at a news conference in Muscat after talks with his Omani counterpart.

“But I draw your attention to the fact that it is the West that is constantly and persistently saying that in this situation, it is necessary to defeat Russia. Draw your own conclusions.”

Ukrainian fighters say Russian forces conducted dozens of air raids on Azovstal

Russian forces have carried out 38 air raids on Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steelworks in the past 24 hours, according to Ukrainian fighters holed up in the sprawling, Soviet-era plant.

Four of the attacks were carried out by heavy strategic bombers, the Azov battalion said on Telegram.

“The enemy does not stop trying to capture the Ukrainian fortress and continues to carry out daily assaults with the support of infantry,” it added.

Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are believed to be occupying the sprawling steelworks, their last holdout against Russian forces intent on capturing all of Mariupol.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Mariupol DAY 77_May11

Russia’s Medvedev lashes out at US aid to Ukraine

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has accused the US of waging a “proxy war” against Russia after legislators approved a $40bn aid package for Ukraine.

Medvedev said in a post on Telegram that the move was a bid “to deal a serious defeat to our country and limit its economic development and political influence in the world”.

“It won’t work. The printing press by which America is constantly increasing its already inflated government debt will break faster,” he added.

Medvedev, who has served as deputy chairman of Russia’s security council since resigning as prime minister in January 2020, also blamed “insane” prices for US fuel and groceries on what he called the US’s “Russophobic authorities”.

Breakaway Georgian region awaits ‘signal’ before referendum on joining Russia

The new leader of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia has said it would wait for a signal from Moscow before holding a referendum on joining Russia.

Moscow recognised South Ossetia and the coastal region of Abkhazia as independent after fighting a brief war with Georgia in 2008. It has provided them with extensive financial support, offered Russian citizenship to their populations and stationed troops there.

In comments to TASS, Alan Glagoev, who defeated incumbent Anatoly Bibilov in a presidential vote over the weekend, said South Ossetia needed Russia to be on board with a referendum on joining the country if it were to be held.

Moscow’s treatment of South Ossetia and Abkhazia set a precedent for its more recent actions in Ukraine. Putin recognised two regions of eastern Ukraine as independent on February 21, and invaded the country three days later on the pretext of protecting the Russian speakers there from alleged “genocide” by Ukrainian forces.

Russia downed satellite internet in Ukraine: Western officials

Russia was behind a massive cyberattack against a satellite internet network that took thousands of modems offline at the onset of the war in Ukraine, the US, the UK, Canada and the EU have said.

Read more here.

Hungary says EU’s oil embargo proposal still unacceptable

The EU’s proposal on oil sanctions against Russia would destroy the Hungarian economy, the country’s foreign minister says.

Peter Szijjarto said in a video posted on his Facebook page that after talks conducted so far, the European Commission does not have a solution to the huge problems such a move would create for Hungary.

He added the only way Hungry could agree to such an embargo would be if it applied to maritime oil shipments, and all shipments of Russian oil via pipelines would be fully exempted.

Ukraine war speeds Greece’s transition to EU energy gateway

In about a month, Greece will finish building a pipeline to Bulgaria that will end Russia’s gas monopoly there and in southeast Europe.

Russia has supplied 90 percent of Bulgaria’s gas until now, but on April 27, it cut Bulgaria off after Sofia said it would not renew its contract with Gazprom at the end of the year.

Sofia is now looking to the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, as the new pipeline is called, to supply it with gas from Azerbaijan, which Greece receives via the Trans-Anatolian pipeline that traverses the Caucasus and Turkey.

Read more here.

Russian gas nominations for Slovakia drop, data shows

Daily nominations for Russian gas deliveries to Slovakia via Ukraine have fallen, according to data from Slovakian operator TSO Eustream.

Nominations via the Velke Kapusany border point were about 717,923 megawatt hours (MWh) per day, versus about 883,844MWh per day on Tuesday, the data showed.

Ukraine said it would suspend gas flows through the transit point which it said delivered almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe via Ukraine, blaming Moscow for the move and saying it would move the flows elsewhere.

A worker at a Ukrainian gas station
A worker at a Ukrainian gas station in Volovets, western Ukraine [File: Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters]

Ukraine threatens to sue Russia’s Gazprom

A top Ukrainian energy official has threatened to sue Russia’s Gazprom if it does not pay for the transit of its natural gas via Ukraine.

Ukraine’s main gas operator said on Tuesday that it would stop the flow of Russian gas via its transit point in the southeastern Luhansk region under Russian control.

Yuri Vitrenko, the CEO of the state-controlled Naftogaz, said on Facebook that Gazprom would still have to pay for the transit.

“If there is no payment, it looks like there must be a new arbitration [trial],” he said referring to multi-billion court settlements his company received from Gazprom.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russians resume attack on Azovstal

Russian forces have resumed their attempts to seize the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where hundreds of Ukrainian service members have been holed up for weeks, a Ukrainian official says.

“They tried to break through the bridge that served as a gate for the evacuation” of civilians from the sprawling plant, Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to Mariupol’s mayor, said on Telegram.

“Unsuccessfully,” he concluded next to a video of what appears to be several Russian service members running under a bridge in thick smoke.

Reporting from Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

An injured Ukrainian service member sits at a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 10, 2022
An injured Ukrainian service member sits at a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal steelworks [Dmytro Orest Kozatskyi/Press service of Azov Regiment/Handout via AP]

US senators introduce resolution to list Russia as terror sponsor

Two US senators have introduced a resolution that would call on President Joe Biden’s administration to list Russia as a state sponsor of “terrorism”.

Republican Lindsey Graham and Democratic Richard Blumenthal cited actions during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and incidents where Russia supported fighters in Syria and Chechnya prior to the invasion.

Members of the Ukrainian parliament voted last week to urge the US to recognise Russia as a “terror” sponsor, citing atrocities committed in Bucha, Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities. Zelenskyy asked Biden to name Russia last month.

Zelenskyy thanks US House for passing aid package

Zelenskyy has thanked US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress who voted in favour of a $40bn aid package for Ukraine.

“We are looking forward to consideration of this important document for us by the Senate,” the Ukrainian leader tweeted.

China government-backed trader secures rare Russian oil deal: Report

China’s Shandong Port International Trade Group, a provincial government-backed commodities and oil trader, has secured a rare shipment of Russian crude oil for arrival in east China this month, according to traders and a company statement.

The Reuters news agency reports that this marks the first such deal under which a Chinese firm other than Beijing’s national oil giants has directly bought oil from a Russian supplier.

Shandong Port group said in a statement that a 100,000-tonne (730,000 barrels) crude oil shipment was scheduled to arrive in Shandong province in the middle of this month.

Although it did not specify the origin of the shipment, trading sources who closely monitor Russian oil sales to China said the cargo size and the shipping voyage would indicate it is a cargo of ESPO blend, Russia’s flagship export grade from its Far East port Kozmino.

Russians shell special needs school in Luhansk, no casualties: Governor

Russian forces “opened fire 15 times” on residential areas and infrastructure in Luhansk on Tuesday, the region’s governor has said.

Serhiy Haidai said a school for children with special needs was hit by shelling. “Fortunately, we evacuated the pupils of the school in advance,” he wrote on Telegram.

Haidai added that the main gas pipeline in Severodonetsk was also damaged and there is “no light” in the city for a second day.

Ukraine ‘successfully’ struck Russian Black Sea defences and resupply vessels: UK

Ukraine has “successfully” struck Russian air defences and resupply vessels stationed in the western Black Sea with Bayraktar drones, the UK defence ministry reports.

“Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

It added that fighting was continuing in Zmiinyi Island, known as Snake Island, as Russia was trying to “reinforce its exposed garrison located there”.

“If Russia consolidates its position on Zmiinyi Island with strategic air defence and coastal defence cruise missiles, they could dominate the north-western Black Sea,” the ministry said.

Occupied Ukraine regions to be part of Russia: Moscow official

Putin’s representative to the occupied region of Crimea has said that areas of southern Ukraine “liberated” by Moscow’s troops will become regions of Russia, state-owned RIA news reports.

“This, as we assess from our communication with the inhabitants of the region, is the will of the people themselves, most of whom lived for eight years under conditions of repression and bullying by the Ukronazis,” according to Georgy Muradov.

“Military-civilian administrations are being formed in these territories, Russian TV channels have come here, Russian textbooks have appeared in schools, the Russian ruble is successfully entering the economic life of the region,” Muradov told RIA.

Such “military-civilian administrations” have reportedly been set up in the regions of Kherson, Crimea and parts of Zaporizhzhia.

Russians allegedly stole valuable items from Zaporizhzhia museum

Ukraine’s security services are investigating the alleged theft by Russian occupiers of several historical items from the Melitopol Museum of Local History, the Zaporizhzhia regional prosecutor’s office has said.

The Interfax news agency reports that among the stolen items is a collection of Scythian gold found by archaeologists in the 1950s.

Russia says Ukraine’s army staged ‘provocation’ in Kharkiv

The head of Russia’s national defence control centre has said that Ukrainian soldiers have staged a “provocation” in Kharkiv by shooting six civilian vehicles, state news agency RIA has reported.

“According to the available reliable information, in the Kharkiv region, the Kyiv regime carried out another bloody action in accordance with the Bucha scenario. On the section of the road between the settlements of Stary and Novy Saltov, servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine shot six civilian vehicles with white flags mounted on them,” Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev said.

Mizintsev also said that Ukraine’s troops, positioned in private houses in Belaya Krinitsa in the Kherson region, attacked several Russian troops so they would return fire. In this way, Mizintsev said, Ukraine’s army used the residents of homes as human shields.

The governor of Kharkiv earlier reported that Russia had intensified shelling in the region.

Ukraine’s FM says Western weapons came too late

Ukraine’s foreign minister has lamented Western reluctance to send Kyiv weapons early in the conflict, saying had they done so, thousands of lives may have been saved.

“If we had been heard from the very beginning on all the weapons that we need to receive, if we didn’t have to spend hours and days explaining to partners in Europe and in the United States why we need specifically this weapon and not another one, we would have received all these weapons by now,” Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with Politico.

He added the US had spent weeks looking at stockpiles of old Soviet weapons around the world that it could send to Ukraine and then realised these were nearly empty before deciding to send Western weapons.

Kuleba said the turning point was the meeting at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base when US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair General Mark Milley convinced European allies to transition Ukraine from Soviet to NATO weapons.

Pelosi calls Putin a ‘coward’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Putin’s war against Ukraine “is not only an act of brutality, it’s an act of cowardice.”

“Who but a coward would pretend he’s going to war and bomb a maternity hospital?  Who but a coward would have his soldiers resort to the cruelty of the rape of children or their parents in front of them, boys and girls?  Who but a coward would pile these children in trains and take them to Russia?” Pelosi said in her speech before the House vote on new aid money for Ukraine.

“We should all be very proud that we had the opportunity – when Putin decided whatever he decided, to be brutal and cruel and a coward – that we were there to help.  It is about democracy versus a dictatorship. Democracy must prevail,” Pelosi added.

Congress passes $40bn Ukraine aid package

The US House has approved a $40bn aid package for Ukraine, the bill having sailed through by a 368-57 margin. The package was backed by every voting Democrat and by nearly three out of four Republicans.

The new funding is $7bn more than Biden’s $33bn request from two weeks ago. It would give Ukraine military and economic assistance, help regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped overseas and provide $5bn to address global food shortages caused by the war’s crippling of Ukraine’s normally robust production of many crops.

The new legislation would bring American support for Ukraine to nearly $54bn, including the $13.6bn in support Congress enacted in March.

The Senate seems certain to approve the legislation but it is unclear when it will act, and some changes are possible.


Reports of Moscow’s cyberattacks on Ukraine ‘absurd’: Russian diplomats

Russia’s embassy in the US has labelled as “absurd” the US state department’s assertions that Moscow was involved in cyberattacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, state news agency TASS has reported.

“We paid attention to the State Department’s statement about Russia’s alleged involvement in cyber attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Such statements are absurd and out of touch with the real state of affairs. Our country has never engaged in cyber aggression. This contradicts Russia’s principled position,” a statement from the embassy said.

Diplomats also reportedly said Russia was “ready for an equal, professional and non-politicised dialogue with the United States on a wide range of topical issues of information security”.

Russian attacks on Kharkiv intensifying: Governor

The governor of the Kharkiv region has said that the intensity of Russian shelling, particularly on residential areas, increased on Tuesday.

“Today there are six wounded. In the Lozovsky and Izyum regions, another two have suffered. In the Kupyansk region, unfortunately, one person died. In Kharkiv, two people were hospitalised with injuries,” Oleg Sinegubov said on Telegram

He warned residents to stay in shelters as much as possible and not leave even in the absence of an alarm. “Do not rush to return to the liberated settlements. And those who are there, do not visit places that have not yet been checked the pyrotechnics. The enemy is cunning and is doing everything to hurt as many Ukrainian civilians as possible,” he added.

Damaged residential buildings in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv
Damaged residential buildings in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 10, 2022 [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

Ukraine says Russia shelled Sumy and Chernihiv

Russian forces shelled the border regions of Sumy and Chernihiv on Tuesday evening, Ukraine’s state border service has said.

“Enemy planes twice launched unguided missiles at the border territories of the Sumy region. They also fired from mortars into the territory of Chernihiv from the Russian village of Novye Yurkovichi,” the service said on Telegram.

Olena Koptyl, 63, enters the basement of her destroyed home in the aftermath of a battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops on the outskirts of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, Saturday, April 23, 2022
Olena Koptyl, 63, enters the basement of her destroyed home following a battle between Russian and Ukrainian troops on the outskirts of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, on Saturday, April 23, 2022 [Francisco Seco/AP]

Private US group says it secured release of Russian-held American in Ukraine

A US citizen in Ukraine who had been accused of espionage and held by Russian forces was being evacuated to Poland with two family members after his release was secured by a private volunteer group from Florida, Reuters has reported the group as having said.

Kirillo Alexandrov, 27, was arrested with his spouse and mother-in-law in late March outside the city of Kherson as they were trying to flee the region following its occupation by Russian troops. This is according to Project Dynamo, a Tampa-based group first formed to rescue Americans and others from Afghanistan last year.

Dynamo said Russian forces held Alexandrov on nearly a dozen criminal charges related to allegations that he was spying for the US government, which Dynamo said were fabricated. He was interrogated and was destined for transfer to Moscow, “where he would presumably be leveraged for propaganda and then imprisoned,” the Florida-based group said in a statement.

Blinken in virtual meeting with Bulgarian PM on Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met virtually with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, the state department’s spokesperson Ned Price has said.

“Secretary Blinken emphasised the importance of both a unified NATO and US-EU response to Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and said the United States would continue to support Bulgaria’s defence modernisation and energy security priorities,” Price said.

“The two affirmed a shared vision for our transatlantic relationship, and the secretary reaffirmed the importance of expeditious EU accession for qualified aspirants,” he added.

Canada gives UN $2.5m to investigate human rights violations in Ukraine

Canada says it has given $2.5m to the UN to report on human rights violations in Ukraine.

“This monitoring will contribute to future Ukrainian and international efforts to seek accountability for violations of international humanitarian law,” Canada’s global affairs office said in a tweet.

The funding is part of a $10m package Canada has pledged to support human rights, civil society and demining in Ukraine, which includes $1.5m for the UN Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.

Putin seeking goals beyond Ukraine’s east: US intelligence chief

Putin is still looking to achieve military objectives beyond eastern Ukraine after failing to capture Kyiv in the early stages of the war, the US intelligence chief has said.

Speaking to US lawmakers on Tuesday, Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence, said the shifting of Russian military operations to Ukraine’s Donbas region in the east is only temporary.

“We assess President Putin is preparing for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas,” Haines said.

“We assess that Putin’s strategic goals have probably not changed, suggesting he regards the decision in late March to refocus Russian forces on the Donbas is only a temporary shift to regain the initiative after the Russian military’s failure to capture Kyiv.”

Read more here.

US legislators debate fresh Ukraine aid

Members of the US House of Representatives have started debating the $40bn aid bill to Ukraine, which is expected to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Still, some Republican lawmakers voiced concern about the massive allocation of funds – and what would happen after they run out.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, questioned why Washington is sending billions of dollars to Ukraine while the US is suffering from a baby formula shortage because of supply disruptions.

“Completely ignoring our own border crisis, our own baby formula crisis and brutal inflation, [a] skyrocketing, gas crisis that no one can afford. But $40 billion for Ukraine?” she said.

Jamie Raskin, a top Democrat, responded: “Here’s a formula for the destruction of democracy: repeating Putin’s propaganda and disinformation and appeasing imperialist assaults on sovereign nations.”

‘We will achieve our victory,’ Zelenskyy says in tribute to late president

Zelenskyy ended his nightly video address by paying tribute to Kravchuk, the first president of an independent Ukraine, who died on Tuesday at age 88.

“As a child he lived through World War II, lived through the occupation,” Zelenskyy said. “Leonid Makarovich [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.”

Leonid Kravchuk
Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk died at age 88 [File: Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

Nominee for US ambassador to Ukraine seeks quick embassy reopening

The Biden administration’s nominee for US ambassador to Ukraine has said she would work to make Russia’s invasion of the country a “strategic failure”.

Bridget Brink told senators she would push to fully reopen the US embassy in Kyiv and take up her work in the country, but said she could give no timeframe for that.

She noted that the outside of the embassy complex, which closed before the invasion, appeared to have what she called superficial damage. “What we are trying to do as an administration is move security items as fast as possible to Ukraine,” Brink said.

Ukraine to halt key Russian gas transit to Europe, use alternative

Ukraine has said it would suspend the flow of gas through a transit point that it said delivers almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe, blaming Moscow for the move and saying it would move the flows elsewhere.

GTSOU, which operates Ukraine’s gas system, said it would suspend flows via the Sokhranivka route from Wednesday, declaring “force majeure”, a clause invoked when a business is hit by something beyond its control.

The company said in a statement that it could not operate at the Novopskov gas compressor station due to “the interference of the occupying forces in technical processes”, adding that it could temporarily shift the affected flow elsewhere, to the Sudzha physical interconnection point located in territory controlled by Ukraine.

But Gazprom, which has a monopoly on Russian gas exports by pipeline, said it was “technologically impossible” to shift all volumes to the Sudzha interconnection point, as GTSOU proposed.

Gas prices hit new record in US

US gas prices have reached a record high as Biden says fighting inflation is his top domestic priority.

The average price at the pump hit $4.37 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), surpassing the last record of $4.33 set on March 11. The average price per gallon a year ago was $2.97.

On Tuesday, Biden blamed what he called “Mr Putin’s war in Ukraine” and the COVID-19 pandemic for inflation, including increased gas prices.

Ukraine pushes back Russian troops near Kharkiv: Defence ministry

Ukraine says its forces have recaptured villages from Russian troops north and northeast of Kharkiv, in a counteroffensive that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum and jeopardise Russia’s main advance.

Ukrainian troops in recent days recaptured the settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske, north of Ukraine’s second-largest city, said Tetiana Apatchenko, a press officer with the main Ukrainian force in the area.

Defence ministry adviser Yuriy Saks also said Ukraine was pushing Russian forces out of range of the city of Kharkiv, which has been under perpetual bombardment since the war began.

“The military operations of the Ukrainian armed forces around Kharkiv, especially north and northeast of Kharkiv, are sort of a success story,” Saks told Reuters.

Leonid Kravchuk, independent Ukraine’s first president, dies

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

Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskyy’s office, confirmed Kravchuk’s death on the social media app Telegram. Kravchuk had been in poor health and underwent a heart operation last year.

Kravchuk led Ukraine as its Communist Party boss in the waning years of the Soviet Union before holding the Ukrainian presidency from 1991 through 1994.

He was a driving force in Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and later that year joined leaders of Russia and Belarus to sign an agreement that formally declared that the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

Italy to take in dozens of Ukrainian orphans

The Italian foreign ministry has said 63 Ukrainian orphans will be flown from Krakow, Poland to Trapani, Sicily.

The transport was organised by the Pope John XXIII Community, along with Italian diplomats in Ukraine and Poland.

“This humanitarian evacuation confirms Italy’s commitment to assisting civilians hit by the conflict in Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement.

US House to vote on $40bn Ukraine aid package: Pelosi

The US House of Representatives will vote on a $40bn military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine on Tuesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said.

The legislation is expected to pass in the House and then the Senate within the coming days.

US President Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve an additional $33bn in aid for Ukraine, warning that previously authorised funds were running out, but US lawmakers decided to increase that total to $39.8bn.

“This package, which builds on the robust support already secured by Congress, will be pivotal in helping Ukraine defend not only its nation but democracy for the world,” Pelosi said in a letter to House members urging quick passage.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, of Calif., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says US aid will help Ukraine defend ‘democracy for the world’ [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Zelenskyy asks for more weapons to unlock Mariupol siege

Ukraine’s president has told Maltese politicians that despite pleas, his country has not received the amount of weapons it would need to unblock the siege of Mariupol and free the city.

But Zelenskyy said Ukrainian defenders “still continue their resistance in the plant of Azovstal”.

“We are using all possible diplomatic instruments to rescue them, but Russia doesn’t allow for any of the proposed options. We have asked our partners to provide weapons in order to unblock Mariupol and rescue both civilians and military personnel,” he said.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Tuesday, May 10 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies