Here is the situation as it stands on Friday, May 19, 2023.
- Ukraine’s military and Russia’s private Wagner Group reported fresh Russian retreats on the outskirts of Bakhmut, as Kyiv pressed on with its biggest advance for six months ahead of a planned major counteroffensive.
- Ukraine said it made gains of about one kilometre in some places, while buying time for “certain planned actions”.
- Russian troops are shelling Ukrainian supply lines in Bakhmut to try and halt Ukraine’s advances, according to soldiers near the front line.
- Russia fired dozens of cruise missiles targeting Kyiv – the ninth time this month the capital has come under attack.
- The raids also targeted the Odesa region where at least one person was killed, according to Ukrainian officials. Ukraine said its defence forces shot down 29 out of the 30 missiles.
- Rail traffic was suspended between Simferopol, the capital of the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia, after a train carrying grain derailed. Moscow-backed officials have called the incident a deliberate act.
- China’s special envoy Li Hui wrapped up his meeting to Kyiv repeating calls for Ukraine and Russia to engage in peace talks to end the war, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- The United Nations said three new ships had been authorised to take part in the Black Sea grain deal allowing the safe export of Ukrainian grain.
- Russia announced that African leaders would visit Moscow next month or in early July as part of a peace initiative for the war in Ukraine announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed with US President Joe Biden to continue sanctions against Russia and support Ukraine. The two men met ahead of the G7 Summit, which begins in Hiroshima on Friday.
- Moldova wants EU membership “as soon as possible” to protect itself against any threat from Russia, President Maia Sandu said. Sandu said she hoped a decision to start negotiations would be made “in the next months”.
- The Pentagon overvalued US equipment it sent to Ukraine by about $3bn, according to officials in an accounting error that opens up the possibility of more weapons being sent to Kyiv.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies