May 16, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, May 17, 2023
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5:27 a.m. ET, May 16, 2023

EU should crack down on India reselling Russian oil into Europe, top diplomat says

From CNN's Jessie Gretener in London

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to journalists during an informal meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Marsta, Sweden, on May 13.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks to journalists during an informal meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in Marsta, Sweden, on May 13. (Christine Olsson/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images)

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that the EU should crack down on India reselling Russian oil into Europe as refined fuel.

In an article published in the Financial Times on Tuesday, Borrell said “we have to act” to stem the flow of oil from Russia to India, which has become one of the biggest buyers of Russian oil since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.

“If diesel or gasoline is entering Europe ... coming from India and being produced with Russian oil, that is certainly a circumvention of sanctions and member states have to take measures,” he said.

“If they sell, it is because someone is buying. And we have to look at who is buying,” Borrell added.

The EU has not made any moves to crack down on India reselling Russian oil into Europe. However, Borrell told the Financial Times that he would raise the issue with India’s foreign minister, who he is due to meet on Tuesday.

Russia finds new buyers: Before the war – and the sanctions which followed – Europe had long been the biggest buyer of Russian energy. The EU had hoped that the embargo from a huge importer like themselves would pile pressure on the Russian economy, but Moscow has found other buyers in Asia.

India, which imports 80% of its oil, before the war bought only about 2% to 3% from Russia. But as oil prices shot up last year, the government steadily increased its intake from Moscow, taking advantage of heavy discounts.

A recent report from the International Energy Agency found that Russian oil exports “reached a post-invasion high” in April this year.

“Russia seems to have few problems finding willing buyers for its crude and oil products,” the report added.

8:47 a.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Ukraine's military says it shot down 18 missiles across the country overnight

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv 

Police officers investigate fragments of a rocket that fell down in a city zoo after it was shot down by air defense system during the night in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 16.
Police officers investigate fragments of a rocket that fell down in a city zoo after it was shot down by air defense system during the night in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 16. (Alex Babenko/AP)

Ukraine's Air Force intercepted 18 missiles launched by Russia at the country overnight, a senior Ukrainian general said on Telegram Tuesday.

"At about 03:30 on May 16, 2023, the Russian occupiers attacked Ukraine from the north, south, and east with 18 various types of air, sea, and land-based missiles," said Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

Zaluzhnyi gave a breakdown of the missiles:

  • 6 Kh-47M2 Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles fired from six MiG-31K aircraft
  • 9 Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea
  • 3 land-based missiles (S-400, Iskander-M)

He added that Ukraine also destroyed drones launched by Russia overnight.

"The enemy attacked with Shahed-136/131 attack drones and conducted aerial reconnaissance with three operational and tactical level drones. All of them were destroyed," Zaluzhnyi said in the statement. 
8:19 a.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Russia launches fresh attack on Kyiv as Ukraine claims Moscow is on the defense. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

At least three people were injured in Kyiv early Tuesday after Ukraine's air defense systems intercepted UAVs and other flying objects, Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said.

A Ukrainian military official said the "vast majority" of Russian targets in Kyiv's airspace were destroyed after the capital was hit by an "exceptional" air attack with UAVs, cruise missiles and probably ballistic missiles.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Kyiv renews F-16s call: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has lauded promises of fresh military aid from European leaders he met with in recent days but is still pressing allies to provide Kyiv with modern fighter jets. Ukraine specifically wants US-made F-16s, but many of its allies have so far been resistant to deliver weapons that would allow Kyiv to reach Russian soil.
  • Ukraine claims Russia on back foot: Speaking to reporters after meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in England, Zelensky said Ukraine is "preparing very important counteroffensive steps," but added: "We really need some more time. Not too much." It comes as Ukraine says Russian forces are no longer capable of large-scale offensive action and are mainly on the defensive — but that Moscow is able to sustain the current rate of missile attacks.
  • Eastern gains: Ukraine's military says it has gained an advantage in some areas near the embattled city of Bakhmut in recent days. In its daily report Monday, the Ukrainian General Staff said there was heavy fighting around the eastern city and Russia had launched "unsuccessful offensive actions" in several locations to the west and southwest.
  • More on Bakhmut: Multiple social media videos from the city show intense battles raging among high-rise apartment buildings on its western edge. Filmed from the Ukrainian side, the footage shows strikes among the buildings in a district where Russia's Wagner mercenaries have been trying to win ground.
  • Tank training: The Pentagon said 31 M1 Abrams tanks have arrived in Germany, where Ukrainian crews are expected to begin training on them in the next couple of weeks. The tanks are due to be sent to Ukraine in the fall. 
  • UN calls for grain deal extension: Martin Griffiths, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, said efforts are ongoing to extend a deal allowing the safe export of grain from Ukraine's Black Sea ports. Russia has threatened to quit the deal over obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer exports.
12:07 a.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Kyiv hit by "exceptional" air raid, Ukrainian military official says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

An explosion of a missile is seen in the city during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 16.
An explosion of a missile is seen in the city during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 16. Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Kyiv was hit by an “exceptional” dense attack early Tuesday, a senior Ukrainian military official said in a Telegram post.

“This time, the enemy launched a complex assault from multiple directions simultaneously, using UAVs, cruise missiles and probably ballistic missiles. This attack was exceptional in its density, with the maximum number of attacking missiles in the shortest time possible,” said Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration. 

Popko added that “the vast majority of enemy targets in Kyiv's airspace were detected and destroyed.”

This marked the eighth attack on Kyiv since the beginning of May, Popko said.

Popko noted that falling debris was reported in Kyiv’s Solomyanskyi, Shevchenkivskyi, Sviatoshynskyi, Obolonskyi and Darnytskyi districts.

The most damage was reported in Solomianskyi, where a non-residential building and several vehicles caught fire, Popko said.

“We are grateful to our air defense for protecting the lives of Kyiv residents!" Popko said.
12:12 a.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Multiple loud explosions heard in Kyiv, at least 3 people injured

From CNN's Tatiana Arias and Josh Pennington

Explosion of a missile is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 16.
Explosion of a missile is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 16. Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Civilians in Kyiv were ordered to seek shelter as multiple explosions were heard early Tuesday (local time). 

Air raid sirens went off throughout the city as Ukraine's air defense system was activated to intercept UAVs and other flying objects over several districts, Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said via Telegram.

Initial reports indicate at least three people were wounded in the capital's Solomyanskyi district, Klitschko said, adding that falling debris set several cars on fire and damaged a large building.

"There have been explosions in Kyiv. Some have happened in the Solomyanskyi district. And in Shevchenkivskyi, rocket debris fell on the territory of the zoo. All emergency services are enroute," Klitschko said.
“Stay in shelters until the air-raid siren goes off!” Kyiv's regional military administration said on Telegram.
10:38 p.m. ET, May 15, 2023

CIA launches online campaign to recruit Russian spies

From CNN's Alex Marquardt in Washington

The Central Intelligence Agency has launched a new effort to capitalize on what US intelligence officials believe is an “unprecedented” opportunity to convince Russians disaffected by the war in Ukraine and life in Russia to share their secrets, posting a slickly produced, cinematic recruitment video online on Monday.

The push includes a new CIA channel on Telegram, the social media network that is a highly popular source of unfiltered news in Russia. The CIA first posted the video on Telegram, which ends with instructions on how to get in touch with the CIA anonymously and securely. The video is also being posted to its other social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

CIA officials involved in the project said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a historic opening “to have Russians come to us and deliver information the United States needs.” It also comes after a previous recruitment drive following the launch of the invasion that the officials said has been successful, with “contact coming in.”

The message, one official said, that they hope Russians who work in sensitive fields with access to valuable information now hear is: “We understand you, maybe better than you think.”

“We wanted to convey to Russians in their own language we know what they’re going through,” added the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive project.

Read the full story here.

8:56 p.m. ET, May 15, 2023

Heavy shelling but little movement on eastern front lines, Ukraine's military says 

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

There’s been little change on the front lines in Ukraine over the past day, according to the Ukrainian military — but plenty of shelling.

In its daily report, the Ukrainian General Staff said there was heavy fighting around Bakhmut and that Russia had launched “unsuccessful offensive actions” in several locations to the west and southwest of the eastern city.

Russians also targeted other areas on the front lines in Donetsk, including Avdiivka, Mariinka and Vuhledar, with a mix of airstrikes and artillery fire. “There were 37 combat engagements. Bakhmut and Mariinka remain at the epicenter of the fighting,” it said.

“Ukrainian defense forces repelled numerous enemy attacks near the town of Mariinka,” it said. The town is in ruins and almost every civilian has left.

Yuriy Fedorenko, an officer in Ukraine’s 92nd Brigade, posted on Telegram that in Bakhmut Ukrainian defenders had managed not only to stabilize the situation but also to gain an advantage in some areas over the past three days.

“The enemy has been pushed away from the main routes of communication, which means that their intention to take Bakhmut in a vice grip has been thwarted,” Fedorenko said.

The General Staff said the Russians had launched more attacks with S-300 missiles against the town of Kostiantynivka, which lies west of Bakhmut.

Geolocated social media video also shows Russian attacks in the Kharkiv region, where the two sides are separated by the river Oskil in some areas.

The General Staff said that in Russian-occupied areas, civilians were still being pressured to take Russian citizenship.

In the Zaporizhzhia region, it said:

“People who agreed to cooperate with the Russian occupiers have been asked to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship in writing and accept Russian citizenship. Those who refuse are threatened by the invaders with dismissal from their jobs and further persecution.”

It also claimed that security checks on the civilian population had been stepped up in Crimea.

8:55 p.m. ET, May 15, 2023

31 US Abrams tanks have arrived in Germany for training of Ukrainian forces, Pentagon says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

Thirty-one M1 Abrams tanks have arrived in Germany ahead of a training program for Ukrainian forces on the US tanks, the Pentagon said Monday. 

The Ukrainian crews are expected to begin training at Grafenwohr in Germany in the next couple of weeks, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing Monday. The training program is expected to take several months, and the tanks are expected to be sent to Ukraine sometime in the fall. 

The tanks now arriving in Germany are specifically meant for training Ukrainian crews while the tanks that will ultimately be sent to Ukraine are going through refurbishment and preparation for shipment, Ryder said. 

“Because we’re doing this concurrently, we will be able to provide those tanks to them in the fall timeframe to get them into Ukraine before the end of the year,” Ryder said.
11:25 p.m. ET, May 15, 2023

Ukraine says Russian forces are no longer capable of large-scale offensive actions

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine said Russian forces are no longer capable of large-scale offensive action and are mainly on the defensive — but Moscow is able to sustain the current rate of missile attacks.

Defense Intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov told Ukrainian television Monday that Russia "is on the defensive" when it comes to discussing "the entire front line" and they are without the resources "to repeat large-scale offensive actions."

"They have been preparing for defense all this time, and this is a serious factor that the Ukrainian command certainly takes into account when preparing for the de-occupation of Ukrainian territories," the official added.

Yusov said the goal of Russian missile strikes have changed and their intensity has lessened since the winter when there were high-volume attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

The Russians had a shortage of some types of missiles, such as the Kalibr, he claimed.

“They are actively looking for ways to compensate for and change not only the Shaheds [Iranian-made attack drones] ...They are looking for weapons all over the world. So far, they have not been very successful," he said.

Despite this, Yusov said the Russians are "capable of sustaining the intensity of attacks,” at least for now. He estimated that they still have large stockpiles of S-300 missiles, which are capable of considerable destruction. The S-300 was designed as an anti-air weapon but the Russians have frequently used it in a ground-to-ground mode, in which it is not very accurate.

Yusov said that on Ukraine’s northern border, the Russians were increasingly using “subversive reconnaissance groups” that were trying to probe border regions. Some had shot at civilians in the northern region of Chernihiv, he alleged.

Belarus leader: The Ukrainian official also claimed that Kyiv was aware of the “health problems” of Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, but said he would not elaborate on the topic "for various reasons." Lukashenko has not been seen in public since a recent visit to Moscow. On Sunday he did not appear at a national celebration in the capital Minsk to mark the annual Day of the State Flag, Emblem, and Anthem of Belarus.