Latest Ukraine updates: Russia withdrawing from around Kharkiv

Ukraine’s army says Russian troops are withdrawing from the second-largest city of Kharkiv after after weeks of heavy bombardment.

Ukrainian service members walk among debris of damaged buildings after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Intense shelling destroyed large parts of the city of Kharkiv. [File: Felipe Dana/AP]
  • Ukraine’s general staff says Russian troops were pulling back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv.
  • Turkey’s foreign minister has expressed opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, saying the two countries are supporting the PKK and YPG.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “very complex negotiations” with Russia are under way to get fighters out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
  • Ukrainian forces are on the counteroffensive near the Russian-held town of Izium, striking at a key axis of Russia’s assault in the east.
  • Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland as of Saturday, a supplier says, amid tensions over the European nation’s expected NATO bid.
INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Donbas DAY 80
[Al Jazeera]

The live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. Here are the updates for May 14.

Russia denies Ukraine forces damaged navy ship in Black Sea

Russia has dismissed Ukraine’s claim it had damaged a modern navy logistics ship in the Black Sea and showed photos of what it said was the vessel with no signs of damage.

In an online post, the Russian defence ministry published photos it said had been taken of the ship in the Crimean Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

“It is now clear from the photographs that the ship is not damaged at all,” it said.

Military authorities in the southern Odesa region said that Ukrainian naval forces had struck the Vsevolod Bobrov, setting it alight.

Medvedev dismisses G7 support of Ukraine territorial integrity

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed a declaration by the Group of Seven to “never” recognise border changes brought about by Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

“To put it mildly, our country doesn’t care about the G7’s non-recognition of the new borders,” he said on his Telegram channel.

Arguing that the will of the people living in a region was all that mattered, Medvedev called the G7’s promise to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons a continuation of its “covert war against Russia.”

Situation in Donbas region remains very difficult: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the situation in the Donbas region remained very difficult, adding that Russian forces were still trying to demonstrate some kind of victory.

“On the 80th day of a full-scale invasion this seems especially crazy, but they are not stopping their efforts,” he said in a late night video address.

NATO will find sensible solution for Finnish, Swedish membership: Latvia

NATO will find a sensible solution to accept Finland and Sweden as new members to the alliance despite Turkish concerns, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevics has said.

“We have had those discussions in the alliance many times before. I think that we have always found sensible solutions and that we will find one this time also,” he told reporters as he arrived for a meeting with his NATO counterparts in Berlin.

“Swedish and Finnish membership is of paramount importance to the whole alliance, and ultimately also to Turkey.”

G7 warn of Ukraine grain crisis, ask China not to aid Russia

The G7 leading economies has warned that urgent measures are needed to unblock stores of grain that Russia is preventing from leaving Ukraine.

“Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe,” the G7 said in statements released at the end of the three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast.

“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and stand by our most vulnerable partners in this respect,” the group added.

It also urged China “to desist from engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimise Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Turkey criticises Swedish and Finnish support for PKK at NATO meeting

Turkey’s foreign minister has criticised the “unacceptable and outrageous” support that prospective new NATO members Sweden and Finland give to the PKK Kurdish militant group, potentially complicating the alliance’s enlargement.

“The problem is that these two countries are openly supporting and engaging with PKK and YPG. These are terrorist organisations that have been attacking our troops every day,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said as he arrived in Berlin for a meeting with his NATO counterparts.

“Therefore, it is unacceptable and outrageous that our friends and allies are supporting this terrorist organisation,” he said. “These are the issues that we need to talk about with our NATO allies as well as these countries,” he added.

Slovakia expects all NATO allies to back Nordic membership bids

Slovakia is confident that all 30 NATO allies will back plans by Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok has said.

“Slovakia is absolutely ready to look at this request and support membership of these two countries,” he told reporters as he arrived in Berlin for a meeting with his NATO counterparts.

Korcok, who has advocated for further military aid for Ukraine, said NATO should support Ukraine “until they win.” “Russia has lost this war politically, it has achieved the contrary which Russia wanted to achieve,” he added.

US senators meet Zelenskyy in surprise Kyiv stop

A delegation of US senators headed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv during an unannounced visit.

In an Instagram post, Zelenskyy called the visit “a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.”

The trip came as the Senate was working to approve a nearly $40 billion package for Ukraine, pushing American aid to the region well above $50bn.

Russia denies responsibility, blames West for soaring food prices

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has blamed soaring food prices on Western sanctions, denying accusations that Moscow is fuelling a global hunger crisis.

“If you don’t understand that, it’s either a sign of stupidity or deliberately misleading the public,” Zakharova said on Telegram, addressing German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Baerbock earlier accused Moscow of waging a “grain war” that endangers global food security at a G7 foreign ministers meeting.

Egypt in talks with India on wheat export ban exemption

Egypt is in talks with Indian officials about getting an exemption from India’s decision to ban wheat exports, Egypt’s agricultural quarantine head Ahmed El Attar has said, as Cairo seeks to supplant purchases disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“There are talks between India and Egypt on the highest levels to be part of the exemptions of this decision,” El Attar told Reuters, adding “there’s constant communication with our ambassador in New Delhi.”

India banned wheat exports as a scorching heatwave curtailed output and domestic prices hit a record high. In April, Egypt’s agriculture ministry announced it had approved India as a source of wheat supplies.

We are behind Finnish, Swedish NATO membership, Norway tells Turkey

Norway has backed Finnish and Swedish plans to join NATO against criticism from Turkey.

“We don’t know what Turkey really means but from [the] Norwegian perspective, we are 100 percent behind Finland and Sweden if they decide to apply for membership in NATO,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeld said as she arrived for a meeting with her NATO counterparts in Berlin.

“This will also strengthen the Nordic cooperation because we chose differently after World War 2, so I think that this is a historic moment right now,” she added.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra echoed her, saying it was important that all NATO members showed unity.

Portugal blocks sale of Abramovich mansion: Report

Portugal has blocked the sale of a 10 million euro ($10.4m) mansion belonging to sanctions-hit Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Publico newspaper has said, without citing its sources.

The property registry of the mansion in the luxury Quinta do Lago resort in the Algarve was frozen on March 25 at the request of the foreign ministry, a month after Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine.

According to Publico, the former Chelsea football club owner tried to sell the property 15 days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started. Portugal’s largest bank, Caixa Geral de Depositos, noticed the move and alerted authorities.

Foreign ministers of Finland, Turkey, to meet over NATO tensions

The foreign ministers of Finland and Turkey will meet in Berlin later to try and solve disagreements over Finland’s and Sweden’s plan to join NATO, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavesto has said.

Speaking before talks, Haavisto said he was “confident that in the end, we will find a solution and Finland [and] Sweden will become members of NATO”.

Kyiv renames iconic Soviet monument

Kyiv has renamed an iconic Soviet-era arch symbolising ties with Moscow to “Arch of the Freedom of the Ukrainian People”, the mayor said.

“The city council today decided to ‘de-communise’ the name of the Peoples’ Friendship Arch,” the capital’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram. The symbolic move comes after the city demolished a statue of two workers – one Russian and the other Ukrainian – under the arch last month.

Officials have approved a list of more than 40 monuments and memorial plaques that will be removed from the capital and transferred to a “museum of totalitarianism”, Klitschko said.

The People's Friendship Arch in central Kyiv.
The People’s Friendship Arch in central Kyiv [File: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Hungary’s new president condemns Putin’s ‘aggression’

Hungary’s President Katalin Novak has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at her inauguration ceremony.

“We condemn Putin’s aggression, the armed invasion of a sovereign state. We say eternally no to every effort aiming at the restoration of the Soviet Union,” Novak said.

Novak, a former Fidesz party lawmaker and ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was elected to the largely ceremonial post of president in March. Orban has also condemned Russia’s invasion but has avoided personal criticism of Putin.

Ukraine could win war by year-end: Kyiv intelligence chief

The war in Ukraine could reach a “breaking point” by August and end in defeat for Russia before the end of the year, Kyiv’s head of military intelligence has told the UK’s Sky News.

“The breaking point will be in the second part of August,” Major General Kyrylo Budanov told the news network. “Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.

“As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories that we have lost, including Donbas and the Crimea,” he said.

Ukraine in ‘complex’ talks to obtain evacuation of wounded fighters in Mariupol

Very complex talks are under way to evacuate a large number of wounded soldiers from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the strategic southeastern port of Mariupol in return for the release of Russian prisoners of war, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

“At the moment very complex negotiations are under way on the next phase of the evacuation mission – the removal of the badly wounded, medics,” he said, adding that “influential” international intermediaries were involved in the talks.

Russia, which initially insisted the defenders in the sprawling Soviet-era bunkers beneath the steelworks give themselves up, has said little publicly about the talks.

Ukraine presses counteroffensive on key Russian line of assault: Governor

Ukrainian forces are on the counteroffensive near the Russian-held town of Izium, the governor of Kharkiv region has said, striking at a key axis of Russia’s assault on eastern Ukraine.

“The hottest spot remains the Izyum direction,” regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said in comments aired on social media. “Our armed forces have switched to a counteroffensive there. The enemy is retreating on some fronts and this is the result of the character of our armed forces.”

A major and successful counteroffensive on that Russian line of advance would deal a serious setback for Moscow in the Battle for the Donbas, a region in Ukraine’s east that Russia has said it wants to capture completely.

Lavrov says all will suffer from West’s ‘total hybrid war’ on Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that efforts by the West to isolate Russia were doomed to fail, while pointing to the importance of its relations with China, India, Algeria and Gulf countries.

“The collective West has declared total hybrid war on us and it is hard to predict how long all this will last but it is clear the consequences will be felt by everyone, without exception,” he said in a speech to mark 80th day since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

“We did everything to avoid a direct clash – but now that the challenge has been thrown down, we of course accept it. We are no strangers to sanctions: they were almost always there in one form or another.”

Russian troops withdraw from around Kharkiv: Ukraine

Russian troops are withdrawing from around Ukraine’s second-largest city after bombarding it for weeks, the Ukrainian military has said.

Ukraine’s general staff said the Russians were pulling back from the northeastern city and focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and air raid in the eastern Donetsk province in order to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications.”

Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new – long-term – phase of the war.”

Abandoning neutrality would be a mistake, Putin tells Finland

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto it would be a mistake for Helsinki to abandon its neutral status and join NATO, the Kremlin said.

Putin said there were no security threats to Finland, and the potential change in its foreign policy stance could be negative for bilateral relations.

Read more here.

G7 warns of global grain crisis

The G7 nations have warned that the war in Ukraine is stoking a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who hosted a meeting of top G7 diplomats, said the war had become a “global crisis”.

Baerbock said up to 50 million people, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, would face hunger in the coming months unless ways are found to release Ukrainian grain, which accounts for a sizeable share of the worldwide supply.

“Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe,” the group said in a statement.

Read more here.

Finland says president spoke with Putin about NATO membership

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has spoken with his Russian counterpart Putin regarding the Nordic country’s application for NATO membership, which is expected to be officially announced this weekend, his office said.

“The conversation was direct and straight-forward and it was conducted without aggravations. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” Niinisto was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office.

“The phone call was initiated by Finland,” the statement added.

China should not support Russia: G7

The G7 nations have called on China not to help Russia, including by undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Beijing should support the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, and not “assist Russia in its war of aggression”, they said.

‘Normality’ returning to Kharkiv: AJ correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig reporting near the eastern city of Kharkiv has said Russian forces were now withdrawing from the war-torn area and there was a sense of some “normality” in the city.

“The governor said people are beginning to return but he was worried that in some of the areas taken back by the Ukrainians, the Russians may have left mines,” Baig said.

“But there is some normality returning to the city.”

A firefighter is seen trying to extinguish a blaze after a Russian bombing near Kharkiv
A firefighter tries to extinguish a fire after a Russian bombing hit the House of Culture in Derhachi, which was used to distribute aid, near Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 13, 2022 [Ricardo Moraes/Reuters]

G7 ‘will never recognise’ borders changed by force by Russia

The G7 industrialised nations have said they would never recognise the borders Russia is trying to shift in its war against Ukraine and pledged enduring support for Kyiv.

“We will never recognise borders Russia has attempted to change by military aggression, and will uphold our engagement in the support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea, and all states,” the G7 foreign ministers said in a statement after three days of talks in northern Germany.

Ukraine war opened Europe’s eyes to Putin’s intentions: Nauseda to Al Jazeera

NATO’s presence in Lithuania has increased to about 3,000 soldiers. But Vilnius has joined other Baltic states in asking for more forces.

So, is a Russian attack against other states imminent? And what will it take to guarantee security in the region?

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda talks to Al Jazeera.

Finland, Sweden accession to NATO should be swift: Canada minister

While there should be consensus at NATO for Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, their accession should be quick, the Canadian foreign minister has said.

“It is important that we have a consensus,” Melanie Joly told reporters on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in northern Germany.

“We wish that there not only be an accession of Finland and Sweden, but a quick accession, which is fundamental in the circumstances as Finland and Sweden are looking for security guarantees.”

Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell
Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell share a smile after bilateral talks during the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Wangels, northern Germany, May 14, 2022 [Marcus Brandt/Pool/AFP]

Russia suspends electricity to Finland: Finnish grid operator

Russia has suspended electricity supplies to Finland overnight after its energy firm RAO Nordic threatened to cut off supplies over payment arrears, an official for Finland’s grid operator told AFP news agency.

“It is at zero at the moment, and that started from midnight as planned,” Timo Kaukonen, manager for operational planning at Fingrid, said.

‘Going home’: Georgia breakaway region to vote on joining Russia

The leader of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia set July 17 as a date for a referendum on joining Russia.

“Anatoly Bibilov signed a decree on holding a referendum in the Republic of South Ossetia,” his office said in a statement, citing his people’s “historic aspiration” to join Russia.

Read more here.

Leader of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov attends a ceremony, which marks the 31st anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, in Donetsk, Ukraine February 15, 2020. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Leader of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

US, Russian defence chiefs speak for first time since invasion

Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu spoke with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday after months of refusing direct contact with his American counterpart.

However, officials said the call did not appear to signal any change in Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

A senior US Department of Defense official said that while Austin believes the hour-long conversation was important in the effort to keep lines of communication open, it did not resolve any “acute issues” or lead to any change in what the Russians are doing or saying as the war enters week 12.

No change in Putin since war started: German chancellor

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has not detected any change of heart on the part of Russian leader Putin since the war began.

In an interview with news outlet t-online, the chancellor said it was clear Russia had not achieved any of its stated war aims, one of which was to secure the territory of Ukraine as a buffer between Moscow and NATO expansion.

“For Putin’s insane idea of wanting to expand the Russian empire, Russia and the whole world are paying a very high price right now,” Scholz said.

Risk to EU ‘unity’ if ban on Russian imports blocked: Kuleba

In an interview with Al Jazeera Diplomatic Editor James Bays, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says EU’s “unity” on Russia will be broken if Hungary blocks a proposed EU ban on Russian oil imports.

“I believe it will cause a lot of damage to the European Union,” Kuleba said in Waisenhaus, Germany at a gathering of G7 nations.

Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba (C) and UKSH Managing director Prof. Dr. Jens Scholz (R) and State Minister of Education
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, centre, with UKSH managing director Jens Scholz, right, and State Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Schleswig-Holstein Karin Prien, left, during a visit to Germany, Lubeck, northern Germany, May 13, 2022 [Morris Mac Matzen/AFP]

Russian minister says Moscow will respond if NATO moves closer to border

Moscow will take adequate precautionary measures if NATO deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to Russia’s border, Russian news agencies quoted deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko as saying.

“It will be necessary to respond … by taking adequate precautionary measures that would ensure the viability of deterrence,” Interfax agency quoted Grushko as saying.

Moscow has no hostile intentions towards Finland and Sweden and does not see “real” reasons for those two countries to be joining the NATO alliance, Grushko added.

Russia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 80

Read the key events so far on Saturday, May 14 here.

Duma deputy head visits Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Kherson: RIA

Senior Russian lawmaker Anna Kuznetsova has visited the region of Kherson in Ukraine to discuss social and healthcare needs of the local population, the state RIA news agency reported.

Kherson is the first region set to be annexed after Moscow said in April it had gained full control of the region, which has seen sporadic anti-Russian protests.

Kuznetsova, deputy head of Russia’s Duma or lower house of parliament, discussed the supply of foodstuffs, as well as medical and other products needed for children, RIA reported.

Governing party in Finland set to announce NATO decision

Finland’s governing Social Democratic Party was expected to announce their support for joining the NATO defence alliance.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinist and Prime Minister Sanna Marin endorsed joining NATO “without delay” earlier this week, saying it would strengthen the Nordic country’s security.

An endorsement by Marin’s Social Democrats would mean that a broad majority in the Finnish parliament are in favour of joining, paving the way for a membership application in the coming days.

Hungary holds up EU plan to ban Russian oil

The EU’s hopes to quickly impose a ban on Russian oil imports could be dashed after Hungary demanded expensive guarantees for its own fuel supplies, diplomats say.

“I am sure we will have an agreement, we need this agreement, and we will have it,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters Friday in Germany as G7 ministers met.

But he added if EU diplomats could not overcome resistance among certain member states, then foreign ministers meeting Monday in Brussels would need to “provide the political impetus”.

Oil pumping jacks
Oil pumping jacks, also known as “nodding donkeys”, operate in an oilfield near Neftekamsk, in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia, on Thursday [File: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg]

More than 700,000 Ukrainian war refugees in Germany: Report

Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper says more than 700,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine have been recorded in Germany so far.

Since the start of the war on February 24 until May 11, 727,205 people have registered in Germany’s Central Register of Foreigners (AZR), 93 percent of them with Ukrainian citizenship, the newspaper said.

About 40 percent of the war refugees were below the age of 18, while women make up 81 percent of all the adult refugees registered, Welt added.

Mariupol defenders will hold out ‘as long as they can’

The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment has said his soldiers – holed up in the Azovstal steelworks – will hold out “as long as they can” despite shortages of ammunition, food, water and medicine.

Speaking during an online session of the Kyiv Security Forum, Sviatoslav Palamar said Russian forces continued to attack the plant, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the southern city.

“We continue to resist and follow the order of our senior political leaders to hold the defence. We are holding the defence and continue fighting despite everything,” he said, according to The Associated Press news agency.

Speaking to a panel that included a number of senior US generals, Palamar appealed for the United States to help evacuate about 600 wounded soldiers from the plant.

Ukraine appears to have ‘won the Battle of Kharkiv’: IOW

The Institute for the Study of War (IOW) says it appears that Ukraine has “won the Battle of Kharkiv”, with evidence suggesting Russia has “likely decided” to withdraw fully from its positions around the city because of the strength of Ukrainian counterattacks and a lack of reinforcements.

In its latest assessment of the position on the ground, IOW says Russia looks to be “conducting an orderly withdrawal and prioritizing getting Russians back home”.

In other areas, it says:

  • Russian troops tried to advance from Izyum but made little progress
  • Russian military appears focused on encircling Severodonetsk and Lysychansk from the north and south
  • Ukrainian forces trying to regain control of Snake Island

Kharkiv map

Former Ukraine presidents urge help for Azovstal fighters

Three former presidents of Ukraine have issued a letter calling for international assistance “by all available diplomatic means” for the fighters trapped in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko and Petro Poroshenko made the appeal in a signed letter on Friday, according to Euromaidan Press.

India bans all wheat exports with immediate effect

India has banned all wheat exports with immediate effect.

India is the world’s second-biggest wheat exporter after Ukraine and many had been banking on it to fill the gap caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The government announced its decision late on Friday and said shipments of wheat for letters of credit that had already been issued would be allowed to proceed.

(Al Jazeera)

Ukraine leads table in Olympics for the deaf

The Ukrainian team is raking in the medals at the Olympics for the deaf, which are currently under way in Brazil according to the AFP news agency.

The so-called Deaflympics opened on May 1 and with two days left to go Ukraine is leading the medal table with a total of 116 medals, more than double the tally of the US which is in second place.

“In this event, we show the world we exist: we are Ukraine, a real powerful, independent and democratic country,” Valeriy Sushkevych, president of the Ukraine Paralympic Committee, told AFP.

“One soldier called us and said: in between battles, we support you on TV. Your fighting spirit in sports is very important for us.”

US, ASEAN leaders pledge respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty

The US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have affirmed their “respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity” in relation to Ukraine.

The statement followed a key summit at the White House – the first in 45 years.

Singapore is the only country in the 10-member grouping to have joined US-led sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, although most – with the exceptions of Laos and Vietnam – voted to condemn the invasion at the United Nations General Assembly.

The eight ASEAN leaders stand with US President Joe Biden for a formal photograph with the White House behind them
ASEAN secretary-general and leaders from the member nations pose for a formal photograph with US President Joe Biden outside the White House [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]

No one can predict length of war, Zelenskyy says

Zelenskyy has said although Ukrainians are doing everything they can to drive out Russian forces, “no one today can predict how long this war will last”.

“This will depend, unfortunately, not only on our people, who are already giving their maximum,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation. “This will depend on our partners, on European countries, on the entire free world.”

He added that he was thankful to all those who are working to strengthen sanctions on Russia and increase military and financial support to Ukraine.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a news conference at a metro station in Kyiv
Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy says Ukrainians are ‘already giving their maximum’ [File: Gleb Garanic/Reuters]

Russia is provoking ‘large-scale food crisis’: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia is provoking a “large-scale food crisis” by blocking Ukraine’s ports.

“The world has already recognised that Russia’s blockade of our ports and this war are provoking a large-scale food crisis,” Zelenskyy said.

“Russian officials are also openly threatening the world that there will be famine in dozens of countries. And what could be the consequences of such a famine? What political instability and migration flows will this lead to? How much will you have to spend then to overcome the consequences?”

Ukraine ready to return bodies of Russian soldiers: Official

Ukrainian military authorities have loaded the bodies of Russian soldiers collected after fighting in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions onto refrigerated rail cars.

Volodymyr Lyamzin, the head of Ukraine’s civil-military cooperation, said his country was acting in accordance with international law and was ready to return the bodies to Russia.

“According to the norms of international humanitarian law, and Ukraine is strictly following them, after the active phase of the conflict is over, sides have to return the bodies of the military of another country,” he said.

“Ukraine is ready to return the bodies to the aggressor.”

Russian shelling kills civilian in Donetsk: Governor

One civilian was killed and 12 more people were injured in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region as a result of Russian shelling, the regional governor has said.

“On May 13, the Russians killed one more civilian of Donbas — in [the city of] Avdiivka. Twelve more people were injured today as a result of Russian shelling,” Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram.

The Donetsk region, one of two that make up the Donbas, has seen some of the war’s fiercest fighting in recent weeks.

Ukraine readying war crimes cases against Russian soldiers: Prosecutor

Ukraine’s prosecutor general has said her office is readying 41 war crimes cases against Russian soldiers.

“We have 41 suspects in cases with which we will be ready to go to court,” Iryna Venediktova said in a live briefing on Ukrainian TV. “All of them concern Article 438 of the [Ukrainian] criminal code on war crimes, but different types of war crimes. There is the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians, rape and looting.”

It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects would be tried in absentia.

Ukraine has held the first war crimes prosecution of a member of the Russian military in Kyiv, as a 21-year-old Russian soldier went on trial for the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian in the early days of the war. Venediktova said that two more of the suspects, who are physically in Ukraine, are likely to face preliminary hearings next week.

Ukrainians stand near grave of victim at cemetery in Bucha
The grave of Ruslan Nechyporenko, a father who was killed in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv [File: Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]

Talks with Russia on Azovstal evacuation ‘very difficult’: Ukrainian official

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said negotiations with Russia on getting fighters out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol were “very difficult”.

Vereshchuk also stressed that Ukraine wanted to rescue them all.

Russian electricity supplier says it will suspend supplies to Finland

Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland this weekend, a supplier has said, as tensions increase over Helsinki’s NATO bid.

“We are forced to suspend the electricity import starting from May 14,” said RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of Russian state energy holding Inter RAO. “RAO Nordic is not able to make payments for the imported electricity from Russia.”

Finland’s electricity network operator said it would be able to make do without Russian electricity.

Iran sees protests over rising bread prices

Soaring bread prices have triggered protests in Iran, the official IRNA news agency has reported, with an estimated 300 people gathering in the largest demonstration in Dezful in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan.

IRNA said 15 people were arrested for “trying to create chaos” in the city.

The protests were triggered by a cut in government subsidies for imported wheat that caused price hikes as high as 300 percent for a variety of flour-based staples.

Wheat prices have drastically increased globally since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, adding to the cost of subsidies in Iran.

US ‘looking to clarify’ Turkish position on NATO enlargement: White House

Washington is “working to clarify Turkey’s position” after President Erdogan expressed opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO amid the war in Ukraine, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said.

The idea of the two nations becoming members of the US-led alliance had received “broad support from NATO member countries”, Psaki said.

But Erdogan said earlier that NATO member Turkey did not have “positive views” on the European countries’ expected efforts to seek membership, accusing them of being “guesthouses for terrorist organisations”.

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

Read all the updates from Friday, May 13 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies