A firefighter in front of a building set afire by falling debris from a downed Russian missile, Kyiv, Ukraine, May 16, 2023
EA on Times Radio: Putin’s Desperation Strikes as Ukraine Counter-Offensive Looms
EA on Times Radio: Week in Review — UK’s Nasty Politics, Turkey’s Election, Zelenskiy in Europe, and White Supremacy in the US
Monday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy’s European Tour Continues in France
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1510 GMT:
Ukraine’s Supreme Court has voted, by 140-2, no confidence in its chief justice after he was detained by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau in a $2.7 million bribery investigation.
The chief justice, Vsevolod Kniaziev, can be dismissed from the court but does not strip him of his status as a judge.
Ukrainian outlets said Kniaziev received the $2.7 million from backers of Ukrainian billionaire Kostyantyn Zhevago, arrested in France in December at Kyiv’s request on embezzlement charges (see 0644 and 1057 GMT).
UPDATE 1113 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks on the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions have killed six civilians.
In Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine, a man and a woman were killed by shelling in the village of Dvorichna. Another man was hospitalized.
In Donetsk in the east, four civilians were killed in Avdiivka, and three injured in Chasiv Yar.
UPDATE 1057 GMT:
A prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, Oleksandr Omelchenko, says the head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court has been detained over bribery allegations.
The prosecutor did not name the judge. The Supreme Court is led by Chief Justice Vsevolod Kniaziev.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ukrainian outlets reported that the Bureau was examining 19 judges, including one connected with a $3m bribe (see 0644 GMT).
UPDATE 0957 GMT:
The director of the Kyiv Zoo, Kirill Trantin, has spoken to The Guradian about overnight Russian missile strikes.
Fragments from a downed missile landed next to enclosures with vultures and a family of raccoons. Trantin and 20 other employees were in a shelter a few hundred meters away. The director recounted:
It was 2:50 a.m. It was very loud and very bright. We heard a boom. There was no fire and fortunately no humans or animals were hurt.
Police arrived and took away a part of the missile, which was shot down.
UPDATE 0644 GMT:
Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau says it is investigating widespread graft in the Supreme Court system.
Posting a photograph of piles of dollars neatly lined up on a sofa, the Bureau wrote, “NABU and SAP [the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor] have exposed large-scale corruption in the Supreme Court, namely a scheme for the leadership and judges of the Supreme Court to receive bribes. Emergency investigative actions are under way.”
It did not name any suspects. However, However, local emdia reported that Supreme Court Chief Justice Vsevolod Kniaziev has been detained on suspicion of receiving a $3 million bribe.
The outlets said the money came from backers of Ukrainian billionaire Kostyantyn Zhevago, arrested in France in December at Kyiv’s request on embezzlement charges.
The businessman said at the time that he did nothing wrong and should not be extradited.
Another 18 Supreme Court justices who heard a case connected with Zhevago are reportedly being investigated.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Trying to stave off an imminent Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russia launched an “exceptionally dense and complex” wave of missile and drone strikes on Kyiv on Tuesday morning.
Serhiy Popko, head of the capital’s military administration, posted about “the maximum number of attack missiles in the shortest period of time”: “According to preliminary information, the vast majority of enemy targets in the airspace of Kyiv were detected and destroyed.”
Ukraine’s Air Force said Russia fired 18 missiles — six Kinzhal Kh-47s from warplanes, 9 Kalibr cruise missiles from warships in the Black Sea, and 3 S-400s or Iskanders — and six Iranian-made attack drones. All were successfully intercepted.
Kyiv Mayor Vladimir Klitschko said debris from downed missiles and drones fell in the Obolonskyi, Shevchenkivskyi, Solomyanskyi, and Darnytskyi districts. Three people were injured.
Popko said the only significant damage was in Solomyanskyi, where a non-residential building and several cars were set on fire.
Ukrainian firefighters combat fires that erupted after wreckage of Russian missiles shot down by air defense fell on capital Kyiv
"While the guardians of the sky protect us from enemy missiles, rescuers are always there," said the head of SESU Serhiy Kruk
📷 @SESU_UA pic.twitter.com/FJHG1tFV0Y
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 16, 2023
Ukraine Hits Russian Military Targets in Occupied Luhansk
In “shaping operations” preparing for their anticipated counter-offensive, Ukraine’s forces hit a series of Russian military targets in the occupied Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine on Monday.
An attack set ablaze a former Ukraine aviation school, now used by Russian forces. Moscow’s proxy officials said that the assault was with two Storm Shadow long-range missiles, recently supplied by the UK, and that an “administrative building was damaged”.
On Saturday, another attack destroyed a multi-story building and injured several people, including a Russian legislator.
There was another explosion in Luhansk city center on Monday. The blast, in a barber’s shop, killed one person and injured five. The Russian proxy “Interior Minister”, Maj. Gen. Igor Kornet, was seriously wounded.
Zelenskiy’s European Tour Concludes in UK
In another sign of preparations for the counter-offensive, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy concluded a four-day, four-nation tour in the UK on Monday.
Public statements focused on the aerial front, following the UK’s provision of the Storm Shadow missiles with a range of 155 miles.
The UK pledged to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses. London also said it would supply “hundreds of attack drones”, although Britain reportedly does not have such a capability.
Zelenskiy looked beyond the UK to the US, saying he was hopeful of “very important” decisions — with British assistance — leading to the delivery of F-16 fighter jets.
The President also visited Italy, Germany, and France over the weekend.
The tour featured the German confirmation of a €2.7 billion military aid package included dozens of tanks, hundreds of armored and logistics vehicles, and four IRIS-T anti-aircraft systems.
Zelenskiy’s talks in Paris may have sought assurances that French President Emmanuel Macron would not pursue a diplomatic mission pre-empting the counter-offensive. Zelenskiy said Ukraine will discuss peace initiatives by other states, but “the war is happening on the territory of our country and so any peace plan will be based on Ukraine’s proposals”.