A Russian tank destr
oyed by a Ukrainian strike, April 2022 (Getty)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1824 GMT:
Ukraine has received commitments on two fronts for a total of almost $60 billion in economic, humanitarian, and military aid.
The US Congress, with a bipartisan Senate vote of 86-11, has completed approval of $40 billion in assistance.
All Democrat Senators and most Republicans supported the package, after it was held up earlier this week by the GOP’s libertarian gadfly Rand Paul. President Joe Biden will now sign the bill into law.
Biden said in a statement, “The resources that I requested will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, replenish our own stockpile, and support U.S. troops stationed on NATO territory.”
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G7 nations — the US, Japan, Canada, Britain, Germany, France and Italy — have authorized $18.4bn in assistance to Ukraine.
A draft communiqué said, “We will continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this war and beyond and are prepared to do more as needed.”
The G7 representatives also welcomed the European Commission’s proposal for €9bn ($9.54bn) in lending to Ukraine.
UPDATE 1704 GMT:
Russian forces continued heavy shelling of the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.
Luhansk military governor Serhiy Haidai said 12 people were killed, including two women in an apartment hit by a missile were among victims.
“Mostly the Russians targeted hits on residential buildings,” Haidai noted, saying the total of casualties was not final “as it is impossible to inspect the area under fire”.
UPDATE 1648 GMT:
US President Joe Biden has hosted Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, a day after the two countries formally applied to join NATO.
At a joint press conference at the White House, Biden said, “They meet every NATO requirement and then some. Having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliance and deepen our security cooperation across the board….
This is about the future. It’s about a revived NATO that has the tools and resources and the clarity and conviction to defend our shared values and lead the world.
Niinistö addressed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is threatening to block the NATO accession of both countries, saying they host “terrorist” organizations:
Finland has always had broad and good bilateral relations with Turkey. As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey’s security, just as Turkey will commit to our security.
We take terrorism seriously. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and we are actively engaged in combating it.
We are open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and productive manner.
Andersson, noting the “watershed moment” fostered by Russia’s “full-scale aggression” against Ukraine, says she looks forward to a “swift ratification process” and a dialogue with Turkey.
UPDATE 1644 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has spoken with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about military support and global food security.
Had a phone conversation with @BorisJohnson. Informed about the course of hostilities and the operation to rescue the military from Azovstal. Discussed defense support, ways to export agricultural products from Ukraine and import fuel to Ukraine.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 19, 2022
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also conferred with his UK counterpart, Liz Truss:
Spoke with my UK friend @trussliz on ways to hold Russia accountable for its aggression and unblock Ukraine’s food exports. Russia bears full responsibility not only for killing, torturing, and raping Ukrainians, but also for starving people across the world, including in Africa.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 19, 2022
UPDATE 1636 GMT:
Germany has closed the office of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because of his links with Russia’s leading energy companies.
Legislators said in a statement, “The coalition parliamentary groups have drawn consequences from the behavior of former chancellor and lobbyist Gerhard Schroeder in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine….[He] no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office.”
Schroeder, Chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has lucrative contracts with Russia’s Rosneft and Gazprom. He has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but said that dialogue must continue with Moscow.
European Union MPs have passed a non-binding resolution calling for sanctions to Schroeder and other Europeans who refuse to give up board seats at Russian companies.
UPDATE 1630 GMT:
Russia has threatened to cut off Ukraine from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, Europe’s largest, unless Kyiv pays Moscow for electricity.
Russian troops seized the complex, with six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors, days after the February 24 invasion.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said, “If the energy system of Ukraine is ready to receive and pay, then [the plant] will work for Ukraine. If not, then it will work for Russia.”
He claimed, “We have a lot of experience of working with nuclear power plants, we have companies in Russia that have this experience.”
UPDATE 1233 GMT:
Russia has rejected an appeal by the UN’s World Food Program to lift blockades of Ukrainian ports.
With an additional 45 million facing food insecurity, the WFP’s executive director David Beasley addressed Vladimir Putin, “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.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded that it will only consider access to Ukrainian ports if sanctions on Moscow are removed.
UN Secretary General António Guterres told a food summit on Wednesday (see Original Entry), “There is no effective solution to the food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine’s food production. Russia must permit the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports.”
He spoke Thursday of “malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years”.
UPDATE 0837 GMT:
The International Committee of the Red Cross has called on Russia to allow access to Ukrainian fighters who have surrendered and left the Azovstal steel works in Russian-occupied Mariupol in southern Ukraine.
In accordance with the mandate given to the ICRC by States under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the ICRC must have immediate access to all POWs in all places where they are held. The ICRC must be allowed to interview prisoners of war without witnesses, and the duration and frequency of these visits should not be unduly restricted.
The Red Cross said it has registered departing fighters from Tuesday, but “is not transporting POWs to the places where they are held”.
In a further sign that the fighters will be used as propaganda in show trials, the Russian Defense Ministry said they are being held in a “pretrial detention center” in Olenivka in the Russian proxy area of eastern Ukraine.
The Ministry is declaring that 1,730 fighters have surrendered, including 771 in the past 24 hours.
UPDATE 0814 GMT:
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu has called on Russia to remove its troops from the Transnistria region.
Russia has occupied the area, which lies to the west of Ukraine, since the 1990s.
Sandu told the European Parliament:
Today there is no imminent threat of Moldova being drawn into the war. We are a neutral country, but for this we call for the withdrawal of the Russian military from the territory of Transnistria, because their presence violates our neutrality….
We do not want destabilization, we have a vision for the peaceful reintegration of the country.
Last month a series of explosions within Transnistria raised fears that Russia and its allies were setting up a pretext for military action. Russian commander Rustam Minnekaev said a land bridge across southern Ukraine to Transnistria must be established because “there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population” in Moldova.
UPDATE 0647 GMT:
The latest report from UK military intelligence points to disarray in Moscow over the troubled invasion of Ukraine, with Lt. Gen. Serhiy Kisel suspended for failing to capture the second city of Kharkiv and Vice Adm. Igor Osipov suspended over his command of the Black Sea Fleet, in which the flagship Moskva and other warships have been sunk or damaged by Ukrainian attacks:
A culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system. Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational setbacks.
UPDATE 0640 GMT:
At least 10 civilians, including two children, were killed and seven were injured by Russian attacks in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, said governor Pavlo Kirilenko.
The governor of neighboring Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk, reported Russian attacks — including the cutoff of an important power substation in Lysychansk — but unsuccessful ground assaults throughout the area.
He said 16 attacks were repelled in Luhansk and Donetsk, with the destruction of eight tanks and 21 other armored vehicles and the downing of a Su-34 fighter-bomber.
The Ukraine General Staff said Russian forces failed to break through near the city of Slovyansk, suffering losses and retreating.
The enemy conducted battle activity in Velyka Komyshuvakha area with the support of artillery; had no success, suffered significant losses in some areas and was forced to withdraw to previously occupied positions.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has claimed “the complete failure of the invasion” by Russia, citing Moscow’s declared use of laser weapons as evidence.
In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy seized upon the Russian statement that it is using a new generation of laser weapons to burn up Ukrainian drones, noting that it shows Moscow’s need to protect a dwindling supply of missiles.
More than 2,000 missiles fired by the Russian army at Ukraine were the main part of their stockpile. Only the remnants are left….
In the propaganda of Nazi Germany, there was a term “wunderwaffe” — wonder weapon. The clearer it became they had no chance in the war, the more propaganda there was about the wonder weapon…..
All this clearly indicates the failure of the invasion. But this also shows they are afraid to admit that catastrophic mistakes hade been made at the highest state and military levels.
Zelenskiy said he has signed a decree to extend martial law by 90 days to expel Russia’s forces. And he said that, following the surrender of the Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal steel works, there was finally “two days of real ceasefire” in the Russian-occupied port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine.
More than a hundred civilians have already been evacuated – women and children fleeing hostilities there. At Azovstal. Given all the complexities of the process, the first evacuees will arrive in Zaporizhzhia tomorrow morning. Our team will meet them there. I hope that tomorrow all the necessary conditions will be met to continue the evacuation of people from Mariupol. We plan to start at 8 a.m.
UN: Global Food Shortages Could Last Years
UN Secretary General António Guterres warned on Wednesday that food shortages, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, could last years and cause global mass hunger and famine.
Speaking at a food summit in New York, Guterres called on Moscow to lift its blockade or occupation of seven Ukrainian ports.
Let’s be clear: there is no effective solution to the food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine’s food production. Russia must permit the safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports.
Guterres said he was in “intense” discussions with Russian officials about the situation.
David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, added, “Failure to open the ports will be a declaration of war on global food security, resulting in famine, destabilization of nations as well as mass migration by necessity.”
The World Bank announced that it will make $30bn available to stem the crisis. Of the total, $12bn will be for new projects and $18bn for projects that have been approved but have not yet been funded.
Russia’s Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, tried to shift blame from his country’s invasion:
Food security had been ruined for several years by unwise macroeconomic steps of the collective West fuelled by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, problems emerged long before the beginning of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine.