May 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Jack Guy, Matias Grez, Adrienne Vogt, Veronica Rocha, Aditi Sangal and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022
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11:43 p.m. ET, May 18, 2022

No major battlefield gains expected for either side in the coming weeks, NATO military official says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

A Russian serviceman patrols the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol on May 18.
A Russian serviceman patrols the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol on May 18. (Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images)

The NATO alliance doesn't expect significant gains for either side of the battlefield in Ukraine in coming weeks, a NATO military official with knowledge of the intelligence told CNN on Wednesday. 

"I think we'll be in a standstill for a while," the official said.  

According to the official, the current NATO discussion is that the momentum has shifted significantly in favor of Ukraine and the debate within NATO circles is now over whether it is possible for Kyiv to retake Crimea and the Donbas territories seized by Russia and Russian-backed separatists, respectively, in 2014. 

"I think they could [retake Crimea and the Donbas], yes," the official said. "Not now, not soon, but if they can keep up the fight I think so."
"I do question if they actually should fight to get their territory back," referencing a potential backlash by the local population in some of those areas. 
8:54 a.m. ET, May 19, 2022

Analysis: Why is Turkey causing problems for Finland and Sweden's plans to join NATO?

Analysis from CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Isil Sariyuce

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, Turkey on Wednesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara, Turkey on Wednesday. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Just when it seemed like Finland and Sweden's accession into NATO was imminent, Turkey has taken its allies by surprise by throwing a wrench into the works.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he didn't view "positively" the Nordic countries' desire to join the alliance, accusing the two of being "like guesthouses for terror organizations." He told his party lawmakers in Ankara on Wednesday that he expects NATO members to "understand, respect and support" Turkey's security issues.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday at Allied headquarters in Brussels, driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The decision represents a setback for Moscow, with the war in Ukraine triggering the kind of enlargement of the alliance that it invaded Ukraine to prevent.

Accession of new states however requires consensus among existing members, and that's where Ankara comes in.

Turkey, which joined the alliance three years after it was established in 1949 and has the group's second largest army, has said it won't support the bids unless its demands are met.

Erdogan accused the two countries of harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan's Workers Party, also known as PKK. The PKK, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been in an armed struggle with that country for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The crisis has brought to the fore longstanding Turkish grievances against Western nations and NATO allies, while it has given Ankara an opportunity to use its position in the alliance to extract concessions.

Read the full analysis: