May 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Nectar Gan, Tara John, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt and Joe Ruiz, CNN

Updated 12:05 AM ET, Sun May 15, 2022
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8:46 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukrainian military says Russians retreating from Kharkiv

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukrainian Army vehicles drive past the remains of a Russian tank near Kharkiv on Friday, May 13.
Ukrainian Army vehicles drive past the remains of a Russian tank near Kharkiv on Friday, May 13. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

The Ukrainian armed forces said in a brief update late Friday that Russian forces are focused on ensuring the withdrawal of troops from the northern Kharkiv region. Those troops have come under growing pressure from Ukrainian counter-attacks along a wide front to the west of their supply lines.

The fierce counterattack has taken back a number of villages in the area east of Kharkiv. Ukraine's advances threaten the symbolic embarrassment of pushing the Kremlin's forces back to their own border, while posing the strategic threat of cutting Russia's supply lines into Ukraine and its forces further south in the Donbas region. It has also revealed further evidence of apparent Russian atrocities, according to a CNN team on the ground.

The General Staff on Friday also reported more cross-border shelling far from the current area of hostilities in the northeastern region of Sumy -- as well as an airstrike against a village in the region.

In the east of Ukraine, the General Staff said there had been more artillery shelling of Ukrainian-held territory as the Russians tried to make progress towards Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, a key objective. The village of Nova Dmytrivka had come under fire, it said, as it has done since late April. 

It also said that there had been airstrikes around Dolyna, which is 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Sloviansk and nearby Adamivka. Airstrikes in the area earlier this week damaged two religious sites, according to Ukrainian authorities. 

In the Luhansk region, the General Staff said a Russian attack on the town of Zolote had been repulsed. 

5:00 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

It's 12 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

NATO leaders are meeting as Finland and Sweden make moves to join the US-led alliance. This comes as Ukraine's defense minister says the country is now entering a "long" phase of war with Russia. Here's the latest:

Nordic NATO developments: NATO foreign ministers are convening in Germany on Saturday while the Finnish government plans to issue a second white paper on Sunday proposing that the country joins NATO. But NATO-member Turkey signaled hesitancy about the bloc's expansion. The Kremlin says it will be "forced to take retaliatory steps" if Finland goes forward. Russia will suspend power exports to Finland starting Saturday due to problems in receiving payments, Finland’s transmission system operator Fingrid said in a statement on Friday.

Where the fighting is happening: In eastern Ukraine, satellite imagery and first-hand testimony have provided a fuller picture of the multiple and disastrous efforts by Russian forces to cross the Siverskyi Donets River over the past week. Russians may have sustained heavy casualties, and lost as many as 70 armored vehicles and other equipment in attempting to cross the river early this week. Their goal was to try to encircle Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region, but it failed spectacularly. 

In the Luhansk region, more than 50 houses have been destroyed by Russian shelling, as fighting continues to rage around a belt of industrial towns in the area, according to Ukrainian officials. The Russians appear to have made little progress on the ground after consolidating their control over Rubizhne earlier this week.

In northern Ukraine, a Ukrainian counterattack has taken back a number of villages in the area east of Kharkiv. The Ukrainian advances threaten the symbolic embarrassment of expelling the Kremlin's forces back to their own border and while posing the strategic threat of cutting Russia's supply lines into Ukraine and its forces further south in the Donbas region. It has also revealed further evidence of apparent atrocities.

In Mariupol, difficult negotiations are continuing over the fate of Ukrainian soldiers still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk region military administration, said. In the meantime, he said, the Russians continued to attack Avozstal from the air. "These are heavy, vacuum, high-explosive bombs," the official said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine has retaken six settlements from Russian forces on Friday, and 1,015 overall since the start of the conflict in February. It is unclear exactly how much territory those settlements constitute. Zelensky did outline other gains by Ukraine’s military in those areas.

Ukraine appeals for more defense systems: A Ukrainian lawmaker called on the United States to provide air defense systems and fighter jets to Ukraine, saying that the situation on the battlefield is "far worse" than it was at the beginning of the war. The House of Representatives passed the $40 billion Ukraine aid supplemental this week, but the Senate failed to pass the bill after Sen. Rand Paul blocked its passage.

Rising food prices see India export ban: India is banning wheat exports as prices rise worldwide due to Russia's prolonged war on Ukraine. India is the world’s second-highest producer of wheat, the bulk of which is consumed domestically. Ukraine and Russia together are responsible for about 14% of global wheat production. Wheat exports from the Black Sea region have plummeted since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, sending global buyers to turn to India to alleviate supply shortages. 

War crimes trial: 21-year-old soldier Vadim Shishimarin is set to become the first Russian to be tried for war crimes at a trial in Kyiv on Friday. He is accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old man in Ukraine’s Sumy region, according to the country's prosecutor general's office.

War looms large at the Eurovision: Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra is the favorite to win at tonight's Eurovision Song Contest, the continent's garish and much-loved singing competition scheduled to take place in Turin, Italy. Russia was removed from the competition following its invasion of Ukraine.

4:44 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukraine takes the Eurovision Song Contest spotlight as the weirdest show on earth returns

From CNN's Rob Picheta

The Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine performs during their first dress rehearsal for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy on Friday May 13.
The Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine performs during their first dress rehearsal for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy on Friday May 13. (Jens Büttner/Picture Alliance/Getty Images)

The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest -- the continent's garish and much-loved singing competition -- is scheduled to take place in Turin, Italy on Saturday.

Last year 183 million viewers tuned in to watch the last three stages of the competition, when Italy's punk-rock band Måneskin narrowly beat France and Switzerland to take the crown, according to the official Eurovision website.

Looking ahead to Saturday's final, musicians from 25 countries will compete on Europe's biggest stage, but only one group is commanding the spotlight in the build-up: Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra.

The folk-rap group are runaway favorites in the betting markets and their presence at the tournament has captured the imagination of fans from every competing country.

As we speak, our country and our culture is under threat. But we want to show that we are alive, Ukrainian culture is alive, it is unique, diverse, and beautiful," Oleg Psyuk, the band's frontman, told CNN.

Getting Kalush Orchestra to the Eurovision stage took some doing, and their journey is deeply interwoven with the war at home.

The band initially finished second in Ukraine's national selection competition, but they were elevated after it emerged the winner had previously traveled to Russian-annexed Crimea. They were unveiled as the country's entry on February 22, two days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

Eurovision, for all its oddities, maintains a special place in the cultural calendar. However, winning would be uniquely significant for Kalush Orchestra, and it's hard to imagine a more popular victor in the tournament's history.

CNN's Sana Noor Haq contributed reporting to this post.

Read the full story:

3:49 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

More details emerge about disastrous Russian effort to cross key river in the east

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

A drone image shows some of the dozens of burnt-out armored vehicles on the banks of the Siverskyi Donets River near Bilohorivka, Ukraine on May 12.
A drone image shows some of the dozens of burnt-out armored vehicles on the banks of the Siverskyi Donets River near Bilohorivka, Ukraine on May 12. (From Ukrainian Airborne Forces Command)

Satellite imagery and first-hand testimony have provided a fuller picture of the multiple and disastrous efforts by Russian forces to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine over the past week.

New video and analysis of drone and satellite imagery show that the Russians may have lost as many as 70 armored vehicles and other equipment in attempting to cross the river early this week. Their goal was to try to encircle Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region, but it failed spectacularly. 

In its account of the battle, Ukraine's 80th separate assault brigade said it had "destroyed the pontoons and thwarted nine crossing attempts."

It claimed that "at least 73 units of equipment were destroyed, including T-72 tanks" and a variety of infantry fighting vehicles.

This tally appears supported by analysis of drone video showing Russian equipment strewn along a track to the north of the river, as well as half-submerged tanks.

It's clear that the Ukrainians had previously worked out where the Russians were likely to try to lay down the pontoons and had observed the approach of Russian units. Reconnaissance of possible crossing points had begun at least two days before the Russian attempt.

The Siverskyi Donets flows quickly and the Russians appear to have needed motorized tugs to try to complete the bridge. The noise was a further clue to Ukrainian units that an attempt to ford the river was underway.

In its account, the 80th brigade says that "despite heavy losses, the enemy still managed to break through ... gaining a foothold on the northern outskirts of one of the settlements." At least 30 Russian vehicles and infantry did make the crossing. 

Other Ukrainian officials say that those Russian units that did get across, north of the village of Bilohorivka, were stranded.

"Fierce, heavy fighting lasted about two days," the 80th brigade said on its Facebook page. "The paratroopers destroyed a whole battalion-tactical group (BTG) of invaders!"

Open source analysis suggests this is probably true, with at least 30 infantry fighting vehicles counted among the wreckage at the site of the pontoon, not counting what may have been destroyed among the equipment that did get across.

In its analysis of the episode, the Institute for the Study of War said that "Ukrainian forces likely inflicted heavy casualties on Russian forces attempting to cross the Siverskyi Donets River."

"Russian forces have likely lost the momentum necessary to execute a large-scale crossing of the Siverskyi Donets River," it added.

Mick Ryan, a former Major General in the Australian armed forces who studies the Ukrainian conflict, tweeted: "Russians clearly intended to invest in this axis and throw a lot of combat power down it.

"Consequently, this is probably a larger setback for the Russians than some have speculated," Ryan said in a post published to his verified Twitter account.

"It has likely resulted in not just a BTG but probably an entire Brigade losing a large part of its combat power."

"Importantly, the Russians lost scarce engineer bridging equipment (and probably combat engineers too). These resources are neither cheap nor available in large quantities. And these are in high demand during an offensive."

The Russians' inability to advance from the north across the river has likely slowed down its offensive in Luhansk, which for now is reliant on troops moving from the east and south through frontlines that have moved little in a month. 

2:42 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

More than 50 houses destroyed in latest Russian shelling, says Ukrainian official

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A special task force policeman inspects a site after an airstrike by Russian forces in Lysychansk, Ukraine on Friday, May 13.
A special task force policeman inspects a site after an airstrike by Russian forces in Lysychansk, Ukraine on Friday, May 13. (Leo Correa/AP)

More than 50 houses in the Luhansk region of Ukraine have been destroyed by Russian shelling, as fighting continues to rage around a belt of industrial towns in the area, according to Ukrainian officials.

The houses were located in the area around Popasna and Lysychansk, said Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration.

"They do not need people and their houses -- they do need only the territory that the enemy turns into a desert," Hayday said, adding that ten enemy attacks had been repulsed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the past 24 hours.

The Russians appear to have made little progress on the ground after consolidating their control over Rubizhne earlier this week.

1:01 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

India bans wheat exports amid rising prices 

From CNN's Mallika Kallingal

A combine deposits harvested wheat in a tractor trailer on a field in Ahmedabad, India on March 16.
A combine deposits harvested wheat in a tractor trailer on a field in Ahmedabad, India on March 16. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

India is banning wheat exports as prices rise worldwide due to Russia's prolonged war on Ukraine.  

India’s Director General of Foreign Trade released a statement prohibiting the export of wheat with immediate effect, except in cases where irrevocable letters of credit had already been issued, or if the government of India grants export permissions to countries relying on wheat for food security. 

India is the world’s second-highest producer of wheat, the bulk of which is consumed domestically. 

The government cited rising wheat prices and the need to protect food security in India and neighboring vulnerable countries as the catalyst for amending its export policy. 

Ukraine and Russia together are responsible for about 14% of global wheat production, according to Gro Intelligence, an agricultural data analytics firm. 

Wheat exports from the Black Sea region have plummeted since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, sending global buyers to turn to India to alleviate supply shortages. 

12:22 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine has retaken more than 1,000 settlements from Russian forces

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky say Ukraine has retaken six settlements from Russian forces on Friday, and 1,015 overall since the start of the conflict in February.

''We continue to restore the de-occupied territories of Ukraine. As of today, 1,015 settlements have been de-occupied, which is plus six in the past 24 hours,'' he said in his nightly address.

It is unclear exactly how much territory those settlements constitute. Zelensky did outline other gains by Ukraine’s military in those areas.

“We return electricity, water supply, communications, transport, social services there,” he said.

He also stated that “the gradual liberation of Kharkiv region” proves that Ukraine “will not leave anyone to the enemy.”  

12:13 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukrainian lawmaker says situation on battlefield is "far worse" than it was at the start of war

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Members of the Ukrainian Army's mobile evacuation unit treat a soldier wounded on the frontline before his transfer to a hospital by ambulance, near Lysychansk, on May 10.
Members of the Ukrainian Army's mobile evacuation unit treat a soldier wounded on the frontline before his transfer to a hospital by ambulance, near Lysychansk, on May 10. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

A Ukrainian lawmaker called on the United States to provide air defense systems and fighter jets to Ukraine, saying that the situation on the battlefield is "far worse" than it was at the beginning of the war. 

“It is hell” on the frontlines right now, Oleksandra Ustinova told reporters at a German Marshall Fund roundtable in Washington Friday. “We keep losing many more men now than it was at the beginning of the war.” 

Daria Kaleniuk, a leading Ukrainian civil society activist, explained “we can't win this war with Soviet equipment because A. Russia has much more Soviet equipment, B. we don't have anywhere to get ammunition for this, and C. Russia simply has more people and more troops."

Ustinova said Ukraine no longer seeks the Soviet-era MiG fighter jets because “the war has changed.”

Instead, she said Ukraine needs the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), Paladin self-propelled howitzers, and fighter jets like the F-16s in order to effectively counter Russia, and called on the US to begin training Ukrainian pilots to use such jets. 

Kaleniuk, who said she recently met with Ukrainian defense officials in Kyiv, noted that Ukraine has “combat-experienced pilots, who are willing and ready to go now for trainings. They were willing to go yesterday for trainings. But there is no decision to accept them and to provide that because there is no decision to provide fighter jets.”

The US has begun to send heavy weaponry to Ukraine, but has yet to give them MLRS or fighter jets. 

Ustinova and Kaleniuk, who were in Washington this week for meetings, said that they believe there is a lack of “political will that is needed” for the administration to decide to send such kinds of heavy weaponry – and quickly — and the feeling that there is still fear about provoking Moscow. 

They decried the fact that it took so long for the US to decide to send the heavy weaponry it is sending now, with Ustinova saying, “if we had Howitzers two months ago, Mariupol would not happen because they wouldn't be able to surround like they did, to surround the city and literally destroy it.”

“For us time means lives, thousands of lives. We've been hearing that it has been unprecedented how fast everything is moving and how fast the decisions are taking. But there has never been a war since World War Two like that. And unfortunately, we keep asking here to take the decisions faster,” she said.

12:13 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

US Congress must pass Ukraine aid supplemental by May 19 to ensure no interruptions, Pentagon says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby speaks during a news briefing in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby speaks during a news briefing in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

If Congress does not pass the $40 billion Ukraine aid supplemental by May 19, "it'll start impacting" the United States' ability to provide Ukraine military aid "uninterrupted," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Friday.

"May 19 is the day we really, without additional authorities, we begin to not have the ability to send new stuff in," Kirby said. "By the 19th of May, it’ll start impacting our ability to provide aid uninterrupted."

The House of Representatives passed the $40 billion supplemental this week, but the Senate failed to pass the bill after Sen. Rand Paul blocked its passage. Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, wanted more oversight of how the funds will be spent before agreeing to let the bill go to the Senate floor for a vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has started procedural steps to override Paul's objection, but the bill likely won't pass until next week at the earliest.

There is still "about $100 million dollars left in current" presidential drawdown authority funding, Kirby said. That funding has not been "allocated or announced" yet, he added.

"We would like to get approval for additional authorities before the third week of this month so that we could continue uninterrupted the flow of aid and assistance into Ukraine, so obviously we continue to urge the Senate to act as quickly as possible so we don’t get to the end of May and not have any additional authorities to draw back, to draw upon," Kirby said.