An aerial view of the destruction from Russian attacks on Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, May 21, 2023
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1701 GMT:
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, says eight people have been injured amid a raid by the anti-Kremlin militia Freedom of Russia Legion.
Gladkov declared a “counter-terrorist operation” including the verification of people’s identities and “suspension of the activities of hazardous industries and organizations that use explosive, radioactive, chemically and biologically hazardous substances”.
UPDATE 1446 GMT:
An anti-Kremlin militia, the Freedom of Russia Legion, says it has overrun the border settlement of Kozinka in the Belgorod region.
Both Russian and Ukrainian officials confirmed fighting at the border. Video on social media video showed armored vehicles attacking a Russian border post. A Russian Mi-8 helicopter fired flares over Kozinka, as smoke rose from the settlement and emergency sirens sounded.
The Legion posted a statement:
We are the same Russians as you. We are distinguished only by the fact that we no longer wanted to justify the actions of criminals in power and took up arms to defend our and your freedom.
But today it’s time for everyone to take responsibility for their future. It’s time to put an end to the Kremlin’s dictatorship.
Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said, that a “sabotage and reconnaissance group of the armed forces of Ukraine” had entered. he claimed “the armed forces of the Russian Federation, together with the border service, Rosgvardiya, and the FSB [state security service] are taking the necessary measures to eliminate the enemy”.
Gladkov claimed that two men and one woman in nearby Grayvaron suffered shrapnel wounds that, three private residential buildings caught fire, and that the administration building was struck.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Defense Ministry, FSB, and Border Service reported to Vladimir Putin about “an attempt by Ukrainian saboteurs to break into the Belgorod region”.
UPDATE 1237 GMT:
The head of the Russian State outlet RT, Margarita Simonyan, complains about shortages of ammunition. She suggests that all citizens should travel to military factories and make munitions for 2 hours per day.
UPDATE 0940 GMT:
Power has been restored to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant after it was knocked out overnight (see 0639 GMT), says Ukraine State energy provider Energoatom.
Energoatom emphasized in a statement:
n the morning of 22 May, at 5.26am, this line was disconnected as a result of Russian shelling. Since it is the last one that powers the ZNPP, all backup diesel generators are automatically turned on. As a result, the station experienced a blackout for the seventh time since the beginning of the occupation.
UPDATE 0833 GMT:
Early-morning Russian strikes on Dnipro in south-central Ukraine (see 0615 GMT) appear to have targeted emergency and rescue services.
Russia may have targeted emergency services in missile attacks on Dnipro last night. Local authorities reporting massive damage in one of the stations – more than 20 vehicles destroyed. pic.twitter.com/CD70GKzh9j
— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) May 22, 2023
— KyivPost (@KyivPost) May 22, 2023
UPDATE 0639 GMT:
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is again running on backup diesel generators after a power cut, Ukraine State energy firm Energoatom says.
The blackout is the seventh at the facility since Russia occupied the complex, Europe’s largest with six nuclear reactors, in March 2022 and established a military base.
Zaporizhzhia Governor Yuriy Malashko, said the blackout was triggered by a fire in Zaporizhzhia city due to an overload in the power system.
“Problems with electricity supply that arose in the city of Zaporizhzhia are not related to shelling,” Malashko posted on Telegram.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, warned:
#Ukraine’s #ZNPP this morning lost all external electricity for 7th time during conflict, forcing it to rely on emergency diesel generators for power; nuclear safety situation at the plant extremely vulnerable. We must agree to protect plant now; this situation cannot continue.
— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) May 22, 2023
UPDATE 0615 GMT:
Russia has carried out overnight aerial attacks on areas across Ukraine.
The governor of Dnipropetrovsk in south-central Ukraine, Serhiy Lysak, said 15 drones and four cruise missiles were downed. Eight people were injured by debris, with four taken to hospital.
The Ukraine Air Force said the Russians aimed at military and infrastructure facilities with 16 missiles and 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones.
Lysak said dozens of vehicles were destroyed or damaged, nine apartment buildings, several private homes, shops, a kindergarten, and administrative buildings were destroyed or damaged.
At night, 15 UAVs and four cruise missiles were shot down over the #Dnipropetrovsk region, regional authorities said.
The impact caused damage and casualties. pic.twitter.com/hd6vcE74lm
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 22, 2023
Explosions were also reported in the port city of Odesa, in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine, and in Kharkiv in the east.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Attending the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said of Russia’s year-long assault on Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, “Nothing left alive, all the buildings ruined.”
Zelenskiy compared the devastation to that in Hiroshima at the end of World War II:
This is just a totally destroyed area, nothing left, not a single person left.
Today it’s a tragedy but in the future there will be reconstruction and recovery.
After six months of “human wave” attacks, Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries have occupied almost all of Bakhmut, a city in the Donetsk region which had a pre-war population of 70,000.
In recent days, the fighters have seized areas in the west and northwest of the city. Ukrainian defenders are now concentrated in the southwest, adjacent to two highways leading into Bakhmut — highways which would ensure their withdrawal when necessary.
On Sunday, international media initially misreported Zelenskiy as saying that the defenders had left. He later clarified, “Bakhmut is not occupied by Russia Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words.”
Bakhmut lost its strategic significance last autumn, when a Ukrainian counter-offensive liberated almost all of the neighboring Kharkiv region. However, Ukrainian forces have remained to drain the Russians of manpower and resources, as Kyiv prepares for a counter-offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine.
The ruins of Bakhmut captured by a Ukrainian reconnaissance drone
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 21, 2023
Russia’s Pyrrhic “Victory”
Ukrainian officials pointed on Sunday to the wider situation around Bakhmut, with advances against the Russians to the north and south.
Those advances have not only prevented Russia from surrounding Ukraine’s forces, but have set up a position to cut off Wagner in the city centre.
Both Deputy Defense Minister Hania Maliar and Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, spoke of a “semi-encirclement which gives us the opportunity to destroy the enemy”.
Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared to acknowledge the risk, saying his fighters will withdraw from Bakhmut on Thursday and hand over positions to conventional Russian forces.
If Moscow puts the forces into Bakhmut, it will prevent them from being used in any defense against the anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive elsewhere in Donetsk and eastern Ukraine.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 22, 2023