Ukrainian rescuers search for victims in rubble of a building destroyed by a Russian airstrike
UPDATE 1439 GMT:
The bodies of more than 200 civilians have been discovered in the rubble of a high-rise apartment building in Russian-occupied Mariupol in southern Ukraine, according to Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko.
During the dismantling of the blockages of a high-rise building near the suburban gas station about 200 bodies were found dead in the basement under the blockages with a high degree of decomposition.
Due to the refusal of locals to collect and pack the bodies of the dead, the Russian ministry of emergencies left the work site.
UPDATE 0833 GMT:
Satellite images appear to confirm Russian theft of grain from Ukraine’s ports.
The image, from US company Maxar Technologies, are being broadcast by CNN. They show grain being poured into the hold of Russian ships in the port of Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Ukraine on May 19 and May 21.
Images have also shown a Russian ship unloading grain at the Mediterranean port of Latakia, Syria, near Russian air and naval bases in the west of the country.
With 49 million people in 43 countries on the brink of famine — and at least 276 million facing acute food insecurity, up from 135 million before the pandemic — Russia has rejected appeals by the UN and the international community to lift blockades of Ukrainian ports.
The World Food Program’s executive director David Beasley addressed Vladimir Putin last week, “If you have any heart at all for the rest of the world, regardless of how you feel about Ukraine, you need to open up those ports.”
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Tuesday:
Russian thieves steal Ukrainian grain, load it onto ships, pass through Bosporus, and try to sell it abroad. I call on all states to stay vigilant and refuse any such proposals. Don’t buy the stolen. Don’t become accomplices to Russian crimes. Theft has never brought anyone luck.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 24, 2022
UPDATE 0825 GMT:
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called for more military support from the international community amid the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.
Too early to conclude that Ukraine already has all the arms it needs. Russian offensive in the Donbas is a ruthless battle, the largest one on European soil since WWII. I urge partners to speed up deliveries of weapons and ammunition, especially MLRS, long-range artillery, APCs.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 24, 2022
UPDATE 0618 GMT:
In his nightly video address to the nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke of “the most difficult fighting situation today” with Russia’s offensive in the east of the country.
Bakhmut, Popasna, Sievierodonetsk — in this direction the occupiers have concentrated the greatest activity so far. They organised a massacre there and are trying to destroy everything living there. Literally. Nobody destroyed Donbas as much as the Russian army does now….
The coming weeks of the war will be difficult. And we must be aware of that. Yet we have no alternative but to fight. Fight and win. Free our land and our people. Because the occupiers want to take away from us not just something, but everything we have. Including the right to life for Ukrainians.
Luhansk military governor Serhiy Haidai wrote Tuesday morning:
Sievierodonetsk holds the defense – the city is completely under the control of the Ukrainian authorities. The Russians concentrated almost all their forces, namely 25 battalion tactical groups to take the city. The number of shellings increased many times. Battles are taking place in the surrounding villages. It is very difficult to evacuate people.
Haidai said Russian shelling killed four civilians in a high-rise building in Sievierodonetsk, as at least six houses were damaged. The Russians also shelled nearby Lysychansk and a the regional boarding school in Hirske.
In its latest operational report, UK military intelligence assesses that Russian forces are trying to encircle Sievierodonetsk, Lyschansk, and Rubizhne to occupy all of the Luhansk oblast.
There has been strong Ukrainian resistance with forces occupying well dug-in defensive positions. Ukraine’s long-established Joint Force Operation likely retains effective command and control of this front.
Russia has, however, achieved some localised successes, due in part to concentrating artillery units.
UPDATE 0608 GMT:
At a virtual meeting on Monday, 20 countries agreed the despatch of more heavy weapons to Ukraine, including a harpoon launcher and missiles to protect the coast.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the assistance after the discussion among more than 40 national delegations: “We’ve gained a sharper, shared sense of Ukraine’s priority requirements and the situation on the battlefield. Many countries are donating critically needed artillery ammunition, coastal defence systems and tanks and other armoured vehicles. Others came forward with new commitments for training.”
Among the countries providing more weapons are Italy, Denmark, Greece, Norway, and Poland.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: A Russian missile strike last Tuesday, on the village of Desna in the Chernihiv region in northern Ukraine, killed 87 people.
Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy revealed the toll as he addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday: “Today we completed work at Desna. In Desna under the rubble there were 87 casualties. 87 corpses.”
The Russian strike is one of the deadliest in its invasion of Ukraine. Up to 600 sheltering civilians were killed in Russian shelling of the Drama Theater in Mariupol in southern Ukraine on March 16. A Russian missile slew 57 civilians at Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine on April 8.
Ukrainian officials initially said eight people were killed and 12 wounded by four Russian missiles in the Desna strike.
At the time of the attack, a Russian military spokesperson claimed high-precision, long-range missiles struck Ukrainian reserves forces at a training center near Desna and at one other site.
On Monday, Zelenskiy called for “maximum sanctions” against Russia over its aggression, including a full oil embargo and end to trade; a cutoff of all Russian banks from global systems; and breaking of ties with Russia’s IT industry.
He suggested that reconstruction of Ukraine could be partly funded by Russian assets seized abroad: “We offer the world the chance to set a precedent for what happens if you try to destroy a neighbour. I invite you to take part in this rebuilding.”