May 11, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Ben Church, Joshua Berlinger, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:18 AM ET, Thu May 12, 2022
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5:06 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Ukraine President Zelensky thanks US House for passing $40 billion aid bill

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) before their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 30.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) before their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 30. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the "friends" of his country in the US House of Representatives for approving a bill that would see Washington deliver $40 billion worth of aid to Ukraine amidst Russia's ongoing invasion. 

The House approved the bill Tuesday evening with broad bipartisan support, 368 to 57. All 57 votes in opposition to the measure were from Republicans. 

The measure will now need to be passed by the Senate before it can go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. 

Pelosi made an unannounced visit to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, earlier this month to meet with Zelensky.

Read more about what's in the bill here:

5:02 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Russian authorities accused of "abducting" Crimean human rights activist

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Oleksandra Ochman

Crimean human rights activist and nurse Iryna Danylovich disappeared on her way home from work in the Russian-annexed peninsula more than a week ago. She has not been seen since.

Danylovich is believed to have been detained by Russian authorities, but they have refused to say whether, where or by whom she is being held.

"We assume that she is still in jail," Danylovich's lawyer, Aider Azamatov, told CNN.

Through her work as a citizen journalist, Danylovich has exposed problems in Crimea's health care system, including in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. She has written for a number of Ukrainian media outlets and has published her findings on Facebook.

Danylovich's father Bronislav told the news site Krym.Realii, a Radio Liberty affiliate, that his daughter planned to take public transport home on the morning of April 29, after finishing her shift at a medical facility in Koktebel, south-eastern Crimea.

Azamatov said the nurse stopped answering her phone at that point.

Azamatov, Danylovich's family and several human rights organizations have been searching for her at detention centers in multiple cities in Crimea ever since her disappearance.

Read more about the search for Danylovich here:

5:32 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Leader of self-proclaimed Russian-backed region makes claim to "liberation" of more territory

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Denis Pushilin, center, leader of the separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), meets with local residents in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29.
Denis Pushilin, center, leader of the separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), meets with local residents in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 29. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images)

The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) laid additional claims of liberation while speaking on the anniversary of its declaration of independence Wednesday.

"Today, a new stage in our life is the liberation of the territory of the DPR within its constitutional boundaries," separatist leader Denis Pushilin said in a statement shared on Telegram channel. "Like the entire history of the formation of our state, this stage is not easy. But the Republic was born to win, and we will achieve our goals."

Some context: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognizing the so-called Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic days before commencing with the invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine and a vast majority of European nations have spoken out against the claims as illegitimate.

3:44 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Russia calls Lithuania's decision to declare it a perpetrator of terrorism a "provocation"

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Lithuania’s decision to declare Russia "a state that supports and perpetrates terrorism" is provocative and extremist, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday in a comment on Russia’s Sputnik radio.

"In countries that adopt such documents, declarations and statements, they take such extremist steps — there is no other way to call it. All these countries are members of NATO. Over the past decades, we have repeatedly seen NATO's illegal and aggressive actions, which led to great loss of life," Zakharova said.
"This should be treated exactly as an element of provocation, extremism and political hypocrisy," she added.

Some context: The Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, on Tuesday passed a resolution declaring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “genocide” and Russia a perpetrator of terrorism.

The parliament also called for the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

“We clearly have reasons to call this an act of genocide,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in an interview with CNN in Washington. “Putin clearly stated that he does not believe that Ukraine has the right to exist as a country and he's trying to prove his point by killing basically entire civilian cities full of civilians.”

Read more about Lithuania and Russia here:

3:02 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Russia "very worried" about counterattacks near Kharkiv, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Ukrainian soldiers next to a destroyed Russian tank on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 8 May.
Ukrainian soldiers next to a destroyed Russian tank on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 8 May. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russia has assembled about 20 battalion tactical groups in Belgorod — a Russian city close to the Ukrainian border — and is concerned about the possibility of Ukrainian counterattacks, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

"According to the General Staff [of the Ukrainian armed forces], they are very worried about our counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region, in the north of the Kharkiv region, to be precise," Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister, told Ukrainian television.

Russian forces, however, have enough strength for another attack on the area, he said.

Skirmishes to the south: The most active battles Wednesday are farther south, Denysenko said, "in the Luhansk direction. This is Rubizhne, Severodonetsk."

He denied a claim by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Tuesday that Russian forces had reached the border of Luhansk.

Russian forces are trying to break south from Izium to take other parts of the Donetsk region, but there's been little movement on the ground.

"In the Izium direction, they conduct a fairly massive air reconnaissance, first of all. It's more about drones than aviation," Denysenko said.
2:33 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Missiles strike Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine, mayor says

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Missiles struck two areas of the city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine, according to the city's mayor.

No casualties have been noted so far, Mayor Vadym Liakh said, and authorities are assessing the resulting damage.

Some context: Sloviansk is the main goal of Russian forces trying to push south into the Donetsk region, and has been a key focus since Russia revised its strategy away from northern Ukraine in early April.

According to a report from the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Tuesday, Russians were trying to break through Ukrainian defenses north of Sloviansk, around the settlements of Oleksandrivka and Shandryholove.

This area has seen almost constant fighting for around two weeks, but the Russians appear to have made minimal progress on the ground.

2:15 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Ukraine advances to finals of the Eurovision Song Contest

From CNN's Sandra Gonzalez

Kalush Orchestra are seen on the turquoise carpet of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest on May 8, in Turin, Italy.
Kalush Orchestra are seen on the turquoise carpet of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest on May 8, in Turin, Italy. (Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images)

Musicians representing Ukraine were selected Tuesday to advance to the finals of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Kalush Orchestra, performing on behalf of Ukraine, is heavily favored to win, according to Johnny Weir, who hosted the US coverage of the competition on the streaming service Peacock.

The group's song is called Stefania.

The run-up to Eurovision featured controversial decisions determining whether musicians from Russia would be able to participate following the invasion in February.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the contest, had initially decided it would allow a performer to represent Russia but changed course less than 24 hours later following public outcry.

"The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year's Contest would bring the competition into disrepute," a statement released at the time said in part.

Ukraine and others had petitioned the European Broadcasting Union to bar Russia from participating.

Ten countries in all advanced from the competition's first semi-final on Tuesday.

The Grand Final will take place Saturday following the second semifinal, which is set to happen Thursday in Turin, Italy.

Read more about Ukraine and the competition here:

1:16 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

US House passage of Ukrainian aid sends "a clear, bipartisan message" of support, says White House

From CNN's Andrea Cambron

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Tuesday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Tuesday. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The US House of Representatives passing a bill to send $40 billion in additional aid to Ukraine sends “a clear, bipartisan message to Ukraine, to Russia, and to the world that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy against Russian aggression,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Tuesday.

"Our assistance to date, together with the contributions of our Allies and partners, has been critical in helping Ukrainians win the battle for Kyiv and defend their freedoms," Psaki said.
"The additional resources included in this bill will allow us to send more weapons, such as artillery, armored vehicles, and ammunition, to Ukraine. And they will help us replenish our stockpile and support US troops on NATO territory."

The bill was approved in the House with broad bipartisan support by a vote of 368-57. The Senate will next take up the measure, and upon approval is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

"As the President said yesterday, we cannot afford any delay in this vital effort," Psaki said. "We look forward to continuing to work with Senate leadership to get this bill to the President’s desk quickly and keep assistance flowing to Ukraine without interruption."

Read more about the aid package here:

12:42 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Leonid Kravchuk, first president of Ukraine, has died

From CNN's Teele Rebane

The first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk speaks in in Parliamentary Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine on July 16, 2020.
The first president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk speaks in in Parliamentary Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine on July 16, 2020. (Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Leonid Makarovych Kravchuk, Ukraine's first president who served from 1991 to 1994, died on Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement.

In an on-camera address, Zelensky paid homage to the late president, calling the news tragic.

"Leonid Makarovych knew the cost of freedom. With all his heart, he wanted peace for Ukraine. I'm sure we are going to realize his dream, by achieving victory and our own peace," Zelensky said.

Kravchuk was a key figure in Ukraine's independence movement in the late 1980s amid the collapse of the Soviet Union. He later became Ukraine's first president when the country declared independence in 1991.