Live Updates

May 9, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

Ex-Russian PM analyzes Putin's Victory Day speech
03:05

What we covered

  • A shopping mall and two hotels were hit by Russian military strikes on Monday in Odesa. Three Kinzhal hypersonic missiles were fired from a plane and and hit a “tourist infrastructure target” a Ukrainian official said.
  • On Russia’s annual Victory Day, President Vladimir Putin reiterated his baseless accusation that the West left him no choice but to invade Ukraine. He offered few clues on the direction of the conflict and planned air shows were canceled.
  • Ukrainian officials, including Kyiv’s mayor, had urged residents to remain alert as Western officials warned Putin could formally declare war during his speech. In his own Victory Day video message, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Ukraine “will win.”
  • Russian forces erected a pontoon bridge a few days ago, and Ukrainian officials are concerned it may enable Russia to threaten Ukrainian defenses and supply routes in the Luhansk region. 
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Our live coverage of the war in Ukraine has moved here.

Blinken and Austin urge Hill leaders to authorize more money for Ukraine by May 19

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Poland, near the Ukraine border, on April 25.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin jointly wrote to congressional leaders urging them to pass supplemental appropriations for Ukraine by May 19 in order for the administration “to provide uninterrupted critical military support” to the Ukrainians.

“We are grateful for the robust support provided by Congress, but almost all of the $3.5 billion in drawdown authority Congress provided this year has been exhausted as we have surged security assistance to Ukraine, which they have used to great effect,” the secretaries wrote in the letters, copies of which were obtained by CNN.

“And as of today, only $100 million remains in authority we can use for drawdown,” Blinken and Austin wrote. “We expect to exhaust that authority no later than May 19, 2022.”

“We will need additional appropriations by that date – including authorizations for additional drawdowns – if we are to continue our security assistance at the current pace,” they wrote.

“In short, we need your help,” the two cabinet secretaries wrote, explaining that “the ability to draw upon existing DoD stocks has been a critical tool in our efforts to support the Ukrainians in their fight against Russian aggression.”

Among those sent copies of the letter were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the heads of the Senate and House committees on appropriations and armed services.

'Putin and his circle are doomed.' Russian journalists post articles critical of invasion on pro-Kremlin site

A screen shows Russian President Vladimir Putin giving a speech as servicemen line up on Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9.

Two Russian reporters appear to have posted at least 30 articles to a pro-Kremlin news site, lenta.ru, on Monday criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his government’s suppression of critics.

CNN reviewed the articles – which were almost immediately taken down – some pegged to the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany, others criticizing the Russian leader for using Victory Day to justify his bloody onslaught into Ukraine.

Reporters Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova made several claims in their articles, including that Russian defense officials were “lying to relatives” about those killed in the sinking of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet flagship Moskva and accusing Putin of launching one of the “bloodiest wars of the 21st century.”

“Putin and his circle are doomed to face a tribunal after the end of the war,” Polyakov and Miroshnikova published on lenta.ru. “Putin and his associates won’t be able to justify themselves or flee after losing this war.”

Polyakov and Miroshnikova are both business editors at lenta.ru, a major pro-Kremlin Russian news site. The outlet’s parent company was recently bought by Russian Sberbank, which is subject to US sanctions for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

CNN reached out to the two reporters and lenta.ru for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

The Russian parliament passed a law in early March criminalizing what it considers to be falsehoods about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Breaking that law can result in a 1.5 million ruble (around $21,467) fine or up to 15 years in prison. Putin and state-owned media still refer to the full-scale ground war in Ukraine as a “special operation.”

Independent Russian news site Mediazone published what it said was a statement from Polyakov and Miroshnikova after the articles appeared.

“Putin is a paranoid dictator,” they’re quoted as saying. “Putin must go. He started a senseless war and is leading Russia into a ditch.”

Polyakov and Miroshnikova not only publicly rejected the government line on the invasion but accused Putin of lying about his intentions in Ukraine from the outset.

They pointed to Putin’s call for a “liberation of Donbass,” “de-Nazification,” and the “demilitarization of Ukraine,” as examples of what they describe as hastily put together justifications for a needless war.

One of the articles in the duo’s Victory Day series focused on what they described as the Russian military lying to families of sailors who died on the Moskva flagship. CNN has previously reported on anxious Russian parents scrambling for information about the fate of sailors aboard the ship that was sunk by two Ukrainian missiles sunk last month.

The article claimed the Russian navy may have re-circulated old images of the Moskva’s crew to suggest more sailors made it off the ship unharmed than really did.

“The video of the Black Sea fleet leadership and crew members that the defense ministry circulated after the tragedy could’ve been archival since a relative of a missing crew member actually recognized him in the video itself.”

CNN could not independently confirm these claims.

Each article on lenta.ru started with the same urgent plea under the headline. 

The duo also appeared to sign off from lenta.ru saying, “We’re looking for work, lawyers and probably, political asylum!”

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be quiet,” they continued in an apparent call to action. “Resist! You are not one, you are many! The future is yours!… Peace to Ukraine!”

Reporting critical of the government in Russian media is rare – especially since the war in Ukraine started in February. The last major journalistic show of dissent from state media was when long-time Russian TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova held up an anti-war sign during a live broadcast on Russia’s Channel 1 in March. She was arrested and fined 30,000 rubles.

Ovsyannikova is now reporting for a German-owned news outlet from Russia and Ukraine.

Residents in Russian-occupied Kherson: "Our children are all at war"

In the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson, nonstop shelling has reduced buildings to rubble. In nearby villages, the fields are covered in debris.

But many residents can’t leave. Instead, they do their best to move forward, hiding in basement shelters when the shelling gets too close.

On the roads, men still sell cow’s milk, and care for their livestock. But it’s not so much that life goes on, said CNN’s International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh — it’s that life has nowhere else to go.

When asked about the possibility of leaving, one resident laughs. “I’ve got plans for tomorrow,” she told Walsh. “Every day I go out, the goats are waiting for me. I’d sleep longer but there’s shelling and the goats are asking for food.”

Others feel they can’t leave their homes while beloved children are on the front lines.

Another resident, Svetlana, said she was waiting for her son to return from the war in Mariupol.

Take a look:

Ukraine says second hotel, shopping mall hit as Russia fires hypersonic missiles at Odesa

Firefighters respond to a missile attack on a hotel in Zakota, near Odesa, Ukraine, on May 9.

A shopping mall and two hotels were hit by Russian military strikes on Monday in the southern port city of Odesa.

Three Kinzhal missiles — Russia’s new hypersonic missiles — were fired from a plane and hit a “tourist infrastructure target”, said Sergey Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional military administration.  

Two people were hospitalized from the missile strike, Bratchuk said. CNN could not confirm the injuries.  

Bratchuk did not identify the target, but CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of two videos circulating on social media, which show significant damage at a hotel in the village of Zatoka. One of the videos was first published by the Odesa City Council. 

This is the second hotel in the Odesa region that was targeted Monday. It’s unclear why the two hotels, or who may have been staying at them, were targeted.

A shopping mall was also hit by seven missiles, according to Ukraine’s Armed Forces Southern Operational Command. Five people were wounded, and one person died in the strike, it said. 

US House of Representatives will vote on $40 billion aid package on Tuesday

The House of Representatives will consider an additional $40 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine on Tuesday, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

On Monday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to “immediately” pass the Ukraine aid bill, warning for the first time that existing aid will run out in “approximately ten days.”

“Get it to my desk in the next few days,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden initially requested $33 billion, but Congress has proposed billions more for food aid and military equipment.

Read more here:

US Vice President Kamala Harris (R) listens as US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering the cost of high speed internet, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 9, 2022. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden tells Congress to 'immediately' pass $40 billion Ukrainian aid bill

"Highly likely" Finland will apply for NATO membership, Finnish minister says

Finnish Minister of European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Tytti Tuppurainen, talks to media prior to an EU General Affairs Council in Brussels, Belgium, on February 22.

It is “highly likely” that Finland will apply for membership in NATO, said the Finnish minister for European affairs.

Speaking to CNN on Monday, Tytti Tuppurainen said the decision has not yet been made, but called the nation’s likely membership “a very natural response” to Russia’s war in Ukraine. She added that if her country does indeed apply, she hopes “the ratification process would be as brief as possible.”

“We would, of course, prefer to have a neighborhood that would have been founded on friendship and cooperation,” she said. “But it is Russia that has distanced itself from the security order and it is Russia that has started war in Europe. It is Russia that has invaded in Ukraine. Now, people see this new reality and the time has come to join NATO.”

On Thursday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö is expected to give his personal opinion about whether to pursue NATO membership, which is expected to be followed by a statement by Prime Minister Sanna Marin. 

Impending decision: Tuppurainen told CNN that most of the country’s political parties have already discussed the issue. The Social Democrats — Marin and Tuppurainen’s party — will gather on Saturday to make their decision, which will be guided by Marin’s announcement.

“Now that the leader of the country is about to make the decision regarding the NATO application, we can say with good arguments that the whole country is ready for this,” Tuppurainen said, noting the strong public support in Finland for joining the defensive alliance.

Message to Moscow: Russia has warned it will respond if Finland – with which it shares a more than 800 mile border – joins NATO. 

“We’ve seen now what kind of a country Russia is and what kind of a regime it has. It has a ruthless dictator as leader,” she said. “We are no longer under any kind of illusions what he’s up to … and we know now that he can wage a war that is as despicable and ruthless and brutal as one can imagine.”

Finland has been a longtime partner of NATO, something that US and NATO officials have pointed to in voicing support for the nation’s membership if it chooses to apply.

President Biden: I'm confident that Putin believed he could break up NATO and the EU

At a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Potomac, Maryland Monday, President Joe Biden told supporters Russian President Vladimir Putin thought he could break up NATO and the EU.

Biden also called the Russian president “very calculating” and expressed concern that Putin can’t find out a way out of the Ukraine war, according to the pool reporter — Biden’s remarks are off camera.

Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki hit Putin for his remarks at a Victory Day address from Moscow, telling reporters at the White House Putin’s claims NATO was “creating threats next to our border,” are “patently false and absurd.”

Ukraine struck Russian air defense system on Snake Island over weekend, officials say

The Ukrainian military struck at least Russian one air defense system on Snake Island over the weekend, according to three US defense officials and a Ukrainian official. 

The strike on the SA-15 short-range air defense system is in addition to strikes on a Russian helicopter and landing boat, a senior US defense official said. 

“We think that there were at least three targets hit from airstrikes on Snake island,” said the official in a briefing on Monday, “but as for overarching effect, I think we’re still trying to figure all that out.”

A satellite view shows smoke rising over Snake Island, on Sunday, May 8.

A satellite image from Sunday morning showed two columns of smoke rising from the island.

Another US official said it’s unclear what strategic value the strikes had while noting that the island has a tremendous amount of symbolic importance for Ukraine. Shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Snake Island was where a Ukrainian soldier defiantly said over the radio, “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.” 

A Ukrainian source official said that two SA-15 systems had been hit, not one. It remains to be seen whether the air defense system was a target of opportunity or a concerted effort to go after Russian air defenses, which have limited the ability of Ukrainian’s air force to fly.  

Over the weekend, both Ukraine and Russia reported more combat in the Black Sea.

A Ukrainian official said Sunday that Ukrainian forces had destroyed a helicopter and several small ships. 

The Russian Ministry of Defense Sunday gave a very different version of events. Major General Igor Konashenkov said that during Saturday night, two more Ukrainian Su-24 bombers and one Mi-24 helicopter of the Ukrainian Air Force were destroyed by Russian air defense systems over the island.

Biden calls on Congress to pass Ukraine aid this week

US President Joe Biden said Monday he is willing to accept the separation of Ukraine aid from additional Covid-19 funding, calling on Congress to pass a Ukrainian supplemental funding bill “immediately, and get it to my desk in the next few days” and warning for the first time that existing aid will run out in “approximately ten days.”

“Previously, I had recommended that Congress take overdue action on much needed funding for COVID treatments, vaccines and tests, as part of the Ukraine Supplemental bill. However, I have been informed by Congressional leaders in both parties that such an addition would slow down action on the urgently needed Ukrainian aid — a view expressed strongly by several Congressional Republicans,” Biden wrote in a statement. “We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort. Hence, I am prepared to accept that these two measures move separately, so that the Ukrainian aid bill can get to my desk right away.” 

Earlier, CNN’s Manu Raju and Ryan Nobles reported Biden told congressional leaders to move the Ukraine aid package first without the $10 billion in Covid aid that Congress has struggled to pass for weeks, per a congressional source.

Senate Republicans had insisted on the two moving on separate tracks, and the White House doesn’t want the Ukraine package bogged down in the chamber even though Democrats had been pushing to tie the two together over fears that the US response to the pandemic could be set back.

In his statement, Biden wrote he was “pleased” that “there appears to be strong support” from a bipartisan majority in Congress to provide aid to Ukraine but warned, “as vital as it is to help Ukraine combat Russian aggression, it is equally vital to help Americans combat COVID.” 

“Without timely COVID funding, more Americans will die needlessly. We will lose our place in line for America to order new COVID treatments and vaccines for the fall, including next-generation vaccines under development, and be unable to maintain our supply of COVID tests. In the fall, if we are hit by new variants, it will be too late to get the tools needed for protection – critical treatments that will be available in Europe, but not the United States. In addition, our effort to help lower-income countries get COVID vaccines into arms will stall,” the President wrote.

Biden tells top national security officials that leaks about intelligence sharing with Ukrainians must stop

US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 4.

US President Joe Biden recently told his top national security officials that leaks about US intelligence sharing with Ukrainians aren’t helpful and need to stop, according to an official familiar with the conversation. 

Last week, after the White House denied providing direct intelligence to Ukrainians “with the intent to kill Russian generals,” Biden spoke separately with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA Director William Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

He told them that it was not helpful for information to become public about what the US was sharing with the Ukrainian forces fighting the Russian invasion, an official said, and stressed that the leaks regarding such information must stop.

Biden’s message to his top national security officials was first reported by NBC News.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday told reporters the President was “displeased” with the leaks and considered them “inaccurate.”

Psaki, who declined to confirm calls between the President and his team, told reporters that Biden’s view “was that it was an overstatement of our role, an inaccurate statement, and also an understatement of the Ukrainians’ role and their leadership, and he does not, did not, (feel) they were constructive.” 

US officials have been candid about intelligence sharing with Ukrainians but have also said there is a line in what is shared with them. In addition to sending weapons for the battlefield, officials have also provided intelligence “to help the Ukrainians defend their country,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council said last week.

Administration officials have previously insisted there are clear limits on the intelligence it shares with Ukraine, including a ban on providing precision targeting intelligence for senior Russian leaders by name. Those limits are part of a White House effort to avoid crossing a line that Moscow may view as too escalatory.

But the intelligence sharing efforts have proved useful. So far, the information has contributed to successful strikes against senior Russian leaders and the Russian Navy’s flagship, the Moskva, sources familiar with the intelligence sharing previously told CNN.

So far, Russia has not taken any known direct action against the United States or NATO in response to ongoing military and intelligence support.

US officials have been left to speculate why Moscow has held back, particularly when it comes to cyberattacks, which the US warned ahead of the war that Russia might use as retribution for US assistance. Russia has also not moved to strike Kyiv during the visits of a host of senior American leaders, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

And the country has also not attempted to strike arms shipments flowing through Poland, a NATO nation. Only recently has Russia begun targeting railways inside Ukraine believed to be carrying Western arms to the fight.

In addition to sharing intelligence, the US has also provided billions in aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Last week, Biden announced a $150 million package that includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment and field equipment and spare parts, according to a White House official.

Biden has proposed a $33 billion new aid package for Ukraine, which he sent to Congress last month. The US has made it clear it intends to provide long-term support to Ukraine, and the proposed package last week was more than twice as much as the $13.6 billion infusion of military and humanitarian aid that Congress approved last month.

This story has been updated with additional details Monday.  

 Odesa under further missile attacks

Odesa under further missile attacks on Monday.

The city of Odesa, Ukraine, has come under further missile attacks Monday evening local time. 

Around 10 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET), witnesses in the center of the city said they heard several large explosions which shook buildings.

Social media showed at least one large fire burning. and a witness said a large shopping center was on fire. The resident of a city more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Odesa reported hearing the blasts. 

A few hours earlier, Odesa city council reported three cruise missiles were fired from a Tu-22 bomber. Five buildings were destroyed and two people injured.

The targets were unknown but some images from Odesa suggested a mixed residential-industrial area had been hit.

Video released by the city council showed widespread devastation across a wide area. 

On Monday morning authorities four sea-launched Onyx cruise missiles were fired towards Odesa. 

The earlier attacks came as European Council President Charles Michel visited Odesa.

On Sunday, ten cruise missiles were fired at the Odesa area. Russia has used submarines, surface ships and aircraft to launch missiles at Odesa in recent days.

See the aftermath of the Odesa missile strikes:

00:41
European Council President Charles Michel and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visit the site where a residential building has been damaged by a Russian missile strike, in Odesa, on Monday.

US ambassador: Putin didn't declare victory because "Russian propaganda machine couldn't" support it

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said Monday that President Vladimir Putin did not declare victory in his speech “because even the Russian propaganda machine couldn’t back that one up.”

“We have seen time after time Russia’s goals in Ukraine thwarted, starting with their attempted lightning strike on Kyiv,” Sullivan said in an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

“That’s not to say that President Putin didn’t stray far from the truth in his remarks today at the Victory Day parade. He certainly did. In fact, his remarks, his remarks are just pure propaganda, misinformation, disinformation that would make George Orwell blush,” Sullivan said.

The US envoy said Putin’s comments Monday showed “at a minimum the Russian government senior leaders’ willingness to say anything to justify the unjustifiable, which is their aggressive war in Ukraine that is slaughtering innocents across that besieged country, atrocities that are hard to comprehend.”

Sullivan said he couldn’t comment on Putin’s health when asked on CNN, and added, “I really don’t know. I’ve seen what we’ve all seen in the media: speculation. And it’s just that, in my opinion.”

“It’s also difficult to know what President Putin is planning,” he added, noting that the US “made public” Putin’s plans to invade Ukraine, “but beyond that, it’s difficult to speculate because his decision circle is so small.”

However, Sullivan said he agreed with CIA Director Bill Burns’ view that Putin “is doubling down his special military operation in Ukraine.”

Sullivan said his interactions with his Russian counterparts has been limited since the war began, but he agrees “wholeheartedly” with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who told CNN’s Kylie Atwood that her Russian colleagues seem “uncomfortable” in “the way they carry themselves, the demeanor.”

Biden tells Congress he wants Ukraine money to move separately from Covid-19 aid

President Joe Biden has told congressional leaders to move the Ukraine aid package first without the $10 billion in Covid-19 aid that Congress has struggled to pass for weeks, according to a congressional source. 

Senate Republicans had insisted on the two moving on separate tracks, and the White House doesn’t want the Ukraine package bogged down in the chamber even though Democrats had been pushing to tie the two together over fears that the US response to the pandemic could be set back.

Democrats are expected to move both separately, starting in the House, and as soon as this week.

As it stands now the total package for Ukraine is now $39.8 billion with increases of $3.4 billion for food aid and $3.4 billion in additional draw down authority for military equipment above the President’s request, which initially was $33 billion total.

There are no plans for Biden to travel to Ukraine, despite the first lady's visit, White House says

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday there remains no plans for President Joe Biden to travel to Ukraine, even following first lady Jill Biden’s trip to the country over the weekend.

“Their travel is a little bit different, I think you all know from traveling with the President, but there’s not a trip currently planned,” Psaki told reporters, adding Biden would “love to go to Ukraine, I just don’t have anything planned or anything to preview at this point.”

The first lady, Psaki told CNN’s MJ Lee, “would not have gone if we did not feel comfortable with the security arrangements,” guaranteeing her safety, and traveled to the region “because she wanted to go on Mother’s Day, because she was thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that the war has to stop, that the war has been brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.” 

US First Lady Jill Biden, left, offers flowers to Ukraine's First Lady, Olena Zelenska, outside of School 6, a public school that has taken in displaced students in Uzhhorod, on Sunday, May 8.

First Lady Jill Biden made an unannounced trip to Uzhhorod, Ukraine Sunday, where she met with Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska and pledged her support for the nation in their fight against Russia.

“She’s been back now, and she’s had an opportunity to speak with the President and has conveyed — she said this publicly — directly to him what she saw on the ground, the need to support the people of Ukraine,” Psaki told Lee. “She saw the horrors and the brutality that the people she met had experienced, and I, you know, that was something she conveyed directly to him.”

Putin's Victory Day remarks blaming NATO for war with Ukraine are "patently false and absurd," White House says

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that remarks from Russian President Vladimir Putin in his annual Victory Day address in Moscow alleging NATO was “creating threats next to our border,” are “patently false and absurd.” 

“What we saw President Putin do is give a version of revisionist history that took the form of disinformation that we have seen too commonly as the Russian playbook,” Psaki told reporters at Monday’s White House press briefing. “Now, what is fortunate is that we are all aware, reporters around the world are aware, Europeans are aware, Americans are aware, of the disinformation factory that President Putin and the Kremlin seem to be, but the suggestion that this war that was prompted by, directed by President Putin, was prompted by Western aggression or Western plans is patently false and absurd.”

In his Victory Address Monday, Putin said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was necessary as the West was “preparing for the invasion of our land.” 

“NATO countries did not want to hear us,” Putin said, adding, “they had very different plans and we could see that.”

In a follow up, Psaki told CNN’s MJ Lee that, following Putin’s speech Monday, officials are monitoring “what we’re seeing on the ground,” adding, “if we go back to mid-February, when President Putin was giving speeches, basically declaring he was going to subsume Ukraine, take over the country, the territorial integrity of the country, and go beyond that is that is exactly not what’s happening today.”

“President Putin and the Russians are not marching through Kyiv, they are struggling to fight in other parts of the country, and the Ukrainians are bravely and courageously fighting every day,” she told Lee. “So, we look at what’s happening on the ground, though it is important to note and to call out the revisionist history that we saw in the speech and the fact that any such statements that we saw, we’ve seen for months from President Putin, that the war was prompted by the West is just patently false and inaccurate, and we can’t state that too often.”

US remains concerned Russia could annex Donetsk and Luhansk regions, State Department says

The United States remains concerned that Russia could annex the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and hold a sham referendum there, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

“It is a Russian playbook that we have, that we have seen turn to time and again, in Crimea, in eastern Ukraine. This is what Russian authorities and proto authorities have done in the past. They have sought to annex, they have sought to conduct sham elections to give their occupation this patina of legitimacy, and our concern remains that they will attempt to do so once again in territory in eastern Ukraine,” he said at a State Department briefing.

The US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said last week that the US has “highly credible” intelligence reports that Russia will try to annex the separatist-occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk “some time in mid-May,” and that there are plans to create a similarly so-called “people’s republic” in Kherson to be annexed as well.

Price said Monday that “timeline wise, nothing has changed.”

“We’re continuing to watch very closely,” he said, noting that the US made this information public so that “the world is keyed in” to what is happening.

Biden signs bill to swiftly send US military aid to Ukraine and blames Russia for "wanton destruction"

In the Oval Office of the White House, US President Joe Biden signs the "Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022," on Monday.

US President Joe Biden signed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 into law in a White House ceremony Monday, flanked by the nation’s first Ukrainian-born member of Congress, Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz.

The law is aimed at streamlining the process for getting military assistance to Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion.

“I’m signing a bill that provides another important tool in our efforts to support the Government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their fight to defend their country and their democracy against Putin’s brutal war, and it is brutal,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office. “I want thank members of Congress here for getting this passed and everyone who supported the bill —and the bill demonstrates the support for Ukraine is pivotal moment at this moment.”

The US House of Representatives passed legislation late April that would allow Biden to use a World War II-era law, known as the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, to swiftly supply weapons to Ukraine on loan. That law was originally created to help forces fighting Nazi Germany and reflects the urgency in Congress to support the Ukrainian armed forces.

Before signing the bill, Biden also blasted the “wanton destruction” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, telling reporters, “the atrocities that the Russians are engaged in are just beyond the pale and the cost of the fight is not cheap, but caving into aggression is even more costly.” 

He recognized Victory in Europe Day, celebrated on May 8, which he said marked “the end of the transition of the devastation of World War II, when Allied Nations defeated the scourge of fascism in Europe.”  

And he marked the anniversary today of the Schuman Declaration, where he said, “Europe began to work to strengthen the bonds of unity among nations, particularly economic unity, and the shared economic prosperity.” 

“The idea ultimately grew into what is now the 27-nation European Union—an economic powerhouse and a global force for peace, close partners on all the issues we face. And it really has, I’ve said from the very beginning, is something that is good for everyone. It brings these countries together in ways that, when they cooperate closely economically, they also cooperate in other ways, and you’re seeing it in the support for Ukraine,” he said.

Biden then signed the bill into law and presented the signing pen to Rep. Spartz.

Ukrainian soldiers still holding out at Azovstal

Ukrainian soldiers continue to hold out in the Azovstal steel plant.

According to the State Border Guard Service, some of its troops remain at the plant, and “together with their comrades continue to defend the country.’

The head of the Donetsk border detachment, Valerii Padytel, who is inside the plant, said “Mariupol’s defense forces continue to defend the hero city. Border guards of the Donetsk Border Detachment, the Marine Guard Detachment, brothers of the National Police and the National Guard continue to perform their duties.”

“Yes, we are in a very difficult superhuman environment. But at the same time we continue to defend our land,” Padytel said.

“We know that we have not been forgotten,” Padytel added.

There are thought to be several hundred soldiers still at Azovstal as well as an unknown number of male civilians.