May 13, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Helen Regan, George Ramsay, Lianne Kolirin, Hannah Strange and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:17 AM ET, Sat May 14, 2022
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2:39 a.m. ET, May 13, 2022

Exclusive: Intense fighting continues at site where Ukrainians blew up two Russian pontoon bridges, satellite image shows

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

This satellite image shows large plumes of smoke rising above the Siverskyi Donets river on May 12 near Bilohorivka, Ukraine.
This satellite image shows large plumes of smoke rising above the Siverskyi Donets river on May 12 near Bilohorivka, Ukraine. (BlackSky)

The Ukrainians are continuing to pushback a Russian advance across the Siverskyi Donets River near Bilohorivka, a satellite image from BlackSky shows.

The fighting is taking place along the same bend in the river where the Russians constructed two pontoon bridges, which the Ukrainians blew up.

The satellite image, taken Thursday afternoon, shows large plumes of smoke rising from a dense forest just west of the river. Fighting also appears to be occurring in the area where the Russian pontoon bridges were deployed.

Smoke is obscuring much of that area, but through it, an object — a possible third Russian pontoon bridge — is seen bridging the river. The object seen crosses the entire river; drone photos of the first two destroyed pontoon bridges show they no longer cross the body of water.

Serhiy Hayday, the Luhansk regional military administrator, said on Wednesday the Russians are continuing to try to construct bridges across the Siverskyi Donets River. He also said that the Ukrainians have repeatedly blown them up. 

11:55 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Russian diplomat says invasion is proceeding on schedule but not as quickly as some in the country would like

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

Russia's Ambassador to the European Union said Moscow's invasion of Ukraine is on track but not proceeding at the speed certain people in the country wanted.

Calling the invasion a "special military operation," Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told Sky News Russia could have "steamrolled" Ukraine by now if it had wanted.

Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov.
Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

"It is continuing at a certain speed, having in mind the various aspects of the situation in Ukraine, including the need to protect the troops — the Russian troops and the allies of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics — as well as the civilian population," Chizhov said.
"Had the Russian army followed the pattern of the United States and other Western countries, we would have steamrolled Ukraine several times by now. But that was never the intention. Actually, I should repeat that it was not the intention of Russia to capture territory in Ukraine."

When asked about the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine Chizhov said:

"You mean whether NATO will deploy nuclear weapons in Ukraine? I hope not." He added, "As distinctly different from the United States, Russia does not deploy nuclear weapons anywhere beyond its own territory."

Chizhov said he is "deeply disappointed and saddened" by Finland and Sweden making moves to join NATO.

"Why the current Finish government has chosen to turn the country into a backwater periphery of NATO, I cannot understand," he said.

If Finland joins, Russia will take "certain military technical measures," he said.

"Like improving or raising the degree of defense preparations along the Finish border...not necessarily troops and tanks but certain preparations like radars, perhaps, but I'm not a military expert."

11:49 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

US: "Several thousand Ukrainians" sent to so-called filtration centers and tens of thousands taken to Russia

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The United States assesses that Russian forces have sent “at least several thousand Ukrainians” to be processed at Russia’s so-called filtration centers “and evacuated at least tens of thousands more to Russia or Russia-controlled territory,” US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter said Thursday.

The forced displacement – and reported violence that are faced by those at the so-called filtration centers – amount to war crimes, Carpenter said according to the transcript of his remarks to the OSCE Permanent Council.

“Numerous eyewitness accounts indicate that ‘filtering out’ entails beating and torturing individuals to determine whether they owe even the slightest allegiance to the Ukrainian state,” Carpenter said.

Some background: A CNN investigation in April revealed that Russian forces and allied separatist soldiers were taking Mariupol residents to a so-called “filtration center” set up in Bezimenne, where they were registered before being sent on to Russia, many against their will. Ukrainian government and local Mariupol officials say that tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been forcibly deported to the Donetsk People’s Republic and Russia since the war began.

“Survivors of this process describe a coercive, multi-destination journey through various ‘filtration’ waypoints in the Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, and eventually across the border into Russia itself," Carpenter noted. “Survivors describe these centers as either makeshift encampments composed of military tents or civilian infrastructure such as schools or sports centers. Commercial satellite images show these encampments in various locations across Ukraine’s southeast.”

The US Mission to the OSCE declined to discuss the sources of the information, but said it is confident in the assessment and the scale of the numbers stated.

According to Carpenter, victims described an "invasive and humiliating" inspection process at these centers.

“Russia’s soldiers photograph victims from various angles, fingerprint and physically examine them for tattoos, inspect their cell phones and download their contacts and data onto devices, and record their biographic information in a variety of databases ... In some cases, Russia’s soldiers confiscated passports, identification documents, and cell phones altogether,” Carpenter said.

“Once in Russia, survivors report that some Ukrainian citizens are permitted to stay with friends and family living in Russia but that people without money or documents are put onto trains destined for cities hundreds of miles away, to be given jobs by Russian authorities,” he added.

11:57 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Finnish foreign minister says the government expected to propose country join NATO on Sunday

From Chris Liakos in Helsinki, Finland

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto addresses a joint press conference with his French counterpart in Helsinki, Finland, on March 31.
Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto addresses a joint press conference with his French counterpart in Helsinki, Finland, on March 31. (Emmi Korhonen/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images)

Th Finnish government is planning to issue a second white paper on Sunday proposing that the country joins NATO, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters in a media briefing in Helsinki on Thursday.

The proposal would then be put into a parliamentary vote with a plenary scheduled for Monday morning.

Haavisto noted that it is “important to go through a proper parliamentary debate”

The Finnish foreign minister said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “changed very much the security landscape in Europe,” adding that it also changed the public opinion on NATO membership.

For the first time ever the majority of Finns support a NATO membership,” he said.

Haavisto told reporters that the country is in close contact with the Swedish Foreign Ministry as Sweden also considers joining NATO. He added that he is in talks with European partners and the UK as applicant countries are not covered by security guarantees.