Ukrainian air defenses intercept a Russian missile over Kyiv, May 16, 2023
Wednesday’s Coverage: Russia Again Backs Away from Threat of Renewed Black Sea Blockade
EA on Times Radio: Putin’s Desperation Strikes as Ukraine Counter-Offensive Looms
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1440 GM:
Ukrainian counter-attacks have liberated more than a mile of additional territory near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, according to Ukraine military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi.
Despite the fact that our units do not have an advantage in equipment…and personnel, they have continued to advance on the flanks, and covered a distance of 150 to 1,700 meters (1.1 miles).
UPDATE 1143 GMT:
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries, says conventional Russian forces have withdrawn again near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine — and the Russian Defense Ministry is lying about the retreat.
Prigozhin said, “Unfortunately, units of the Russian Defence Ministry have withdrawn up to 570 meters to the north of Bakhmut, exposing our flanks”.
Having led Russia’s year-long assault since November, the Wagner mercenaries hold more than 80% of the city center.
The Wagner Group head said the Defense Ministry was falsely portraying the pullback as an “advance” to new positions.
UPDATE 1136 GMT:
Ukraine MP Kira Rudik comments on Russia’s missile strikes on Vyshyvanka Day, which celebrates Ukrainian folk traditions and the national dress.
This night we barely slept bc our crazy terrorist neighbor was bombing us again. But we wake up, put on #Vyshyvanka and celebrate our unity, our invincibility. All over the world so many people are proud to be Ukrainians. Together we stand. Together we win. pic.twitter.com/11ntikUgNF
— Kira Rudik (@kiraincongress) May 18, 2023
UPDATE 0744 GMT:
As Ukraine’s air defenses intercept Russia’s hypersonic missiles for the first time, Moscow says three Russian academics who worked on the missile technology face “very serious accusations” of treason.
An open letter from scientists in Siberia said that Anatoly Maslov, Alexander Shiplyuk, and Valery Zvegintsev were innocent, and that their prosecutions threaten grave damage on Russian science.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he is aware of the letter, but that the case is a matter for the security services.
Vladimir Putin had boasted that Russia was the global leader in hypersonic missiles which could travel at speeds of up to Mach 10 (7,600 miles per hour) and evade air defenses.
UPDATE 0722 GMT:
Russia’s latest shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine has killed one person in Kostyantynivka.
Several apartment buildings, a shop, and administrative buildings were destroyed or damaged.
UPDATE 0647 GMT:
The death toll has risen to three in Russia’s shelling of Zelenivka in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine on Wednesday afternoon.
A 5-year-old boy died as his father was carrying him to hospital.
The Kherson region was shelled more than 90 times yesterday.
UPDATE 0633 GMT:
The train service between Simferopol and Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea has been suspended, following reports of an explosion on the railway line.
The Russian proxy governor Sergei Aksyonov said “wagons with grain derailed” in the Simeferopol region.
UPDATE 0617 GMT:
China says it has agreed with Ukraine to “work together to continue their mutual respect and keep their mutually beneficial cooperation moving forward”.
The Chinese foreign ministry issued the statement on Thursday. It followed two days of meetings in Kyiv between special envoy Li Hui and Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“China has always played a constructive role in alleviating the humanitarian situation in Ukraine in its own way and will continue to provide assistance to Ukraine within its capacity,” the Foreign Ministry said. It added:
China is willing to promote the international community to form the greatest common denominator for resolving the Ukrainian crisis, and make its own efforts to stop the fighting and [establish a] ceasefire and restore peace as soon as possible.
See also Ukraine War, Day 428: China Puts Kyiv and Moscow on Same Footing
Implicitly addressing China’s 12-point proposal for resolving the Russian invasion, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized “that Ukraine does not accept any proposals that would involve the loss of its territories or the freezing of the conflict”. He said it was important for Beijing to be involved in the implementation of President Zelenskiy’s 10-point peace formula.
Li, a former Ambassador in Moscow, will also visit Poland, France, Germany, and Russia.
In the name of neutrality, the Chinese did give Moscow one consolation on Wednesday. Several foreign missions in Beijing were ordered not to display “politicized propaganda” on their buildings, an edict aimed at the display of Ukrainian flags during Russia’s invasion.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia has carried out its ninth wave of missile and drone strikes across Ukraine this month — and second in third days — but has again been foiled by Ukrainian air defenses.
The Russians attacked Kyiv, Odesa, and other cities early Thursday. All but one of the 30 missiles were destroyed. Two attack drones and two surveillance drones were also intercepted.
“This time the attack was carried out by strategic bombers Tu-95MS, Tu-160 from the Caspian region, probably by cruise missiles of the X-101/555 type. After launching the rockets, the enemy deployed its reconnaissance UAVs over the capital,” said the Kyiv city and regional administration.
The one missile that evaded interception struck the port city of Odesa, hitting an “industrial infrastructure”. One person was killed and two injured.
Falling debris in Kyiv caused a fire in a garage in the Darnytskyi district, and there was an explosion in the Desnyansky district, said Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
Cruise missile attacks were also reported in the central Vinnytsia region, and explosions were reported in Khmelnytskyi, about 100 km (62 miles) to the west.
Facing an anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russia has escalated the waves of attacks this month. However, the number of missiles and drones are far less than in previous waves since October, and almost none have reached targets.
All missiles fired on Kyiv in May have been downed. On Tuesday, all six Kh-47 Khinzals were intercepted, days after a US-made Patriot air defense system knocked out one of the hypersonic missiles for the first times.
Debris caused some damage to a Patriot system — likely one of the prime targets of the assault — but US officials said the radar was not affected and the system would remain in Ukraine.
See also Ukraine War, Day 447: Russia’s Desperation Strike on Kyiv Fails