May 19, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Leinz Vales, Matt Meyer, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 11:57 PM ET, Fri May 19, 2023
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6:45 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

Zelensky arrives in Saudi Arabia for Arab League summit

From Victoria Butenko and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is welcomed as he arrives ahead of the Arab League summit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in this still image obtained from a video on May 19.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is welcomed as he arrives ahead of the Arab League summit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in this still image obtained from a video on May 19. (alekhbariyatv/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived in Saudi Arabia to attend the Arab League summit, he announced on Telegram.

“I have arrived in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I will speak at the Arab League summit. I will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and hold other bilateral talks.”

“Our priorities are the return of all political prisoners of Crimea and the temporarily occupied territories, the return of all prisoners and illegally deported persons, the presentation of our peace formula, the implementation of which should involve as many states as possible, and the guarantee of energy security next winter,” he said.

“Another priority is to protect the Muslim community of Ukraine. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, is with us. Crimea was the first to suffer from the Russian occupation, and most of those who are being repressed in occupied Crimea are Muslims.”

This weekend, the Ukrainian leader is expected to travel in person to Japan for the Group of Seven (G7) summit, as he tries to keep crucial support from allied nations flowing to Kyiv.

Officials have declined to say exactly when Zelensky would arrive in Hiroshima or detail his travel arrangements. He has been traveling outside his country more as the war grinds onward, including a tour of Europe last week.

6:04 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

G7 leaders agree to impose further sanctions on Russia

From CNN's Betsy Klein in Hiroshima, Alex Stambaugh and Mick Krever

Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized economies attend the first day of their three-day summit on May 19, 2023, in the western Japan city of Hiroshima. Pictured clockwise from front right are Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized economies attend the first day of their three-day summit on May 19, 2023, in the western Japan city of Hiroshima. Pictured clockwise from front right are Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron. (Kyodo News/Getty Images)

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries have agreed to impose further sanctions on Russia and have "reaffirmed" their commitment to stand against Moscow's "illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked" war in Ukraine.

The further sanctions and measures are intended "to increase the costs to Russia and those who are supporting its war effort," and build on efforts to "ensure that Russia is no longer able to weaponize the availability of energy," the G7 leaders said in a statement issued from the G7 summit in Hiroshima.

"We will broaden our actions to ensure that exports of all items critical to Russia’s aggression including those used by Russia on the battlefield are restricted across all our jurisdictions,” the statement said.

This will include “exports of industrial machinery, tools, and other technology that Russia uses to rebuild its war machine," the statement continued. Key sectors that will be targeted include manufacturing, construction, and transportation as well as business services.

Leaders said they "remain committed" to upholding the price caps on Russian oil and petroleum products and will enhance efforts "to counter evasion of these caps while avoiding spillover effects and maintaining global energy supply."

G7 leaders also renewed their commitment to provide "the financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support Ukraine requires for as long as it takes," echoing previous vows of support for Kyiv.

"Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not tire in our commitment to mitigate the impact of Russia’s illegal actions on the rest of the world," the statement said.

Furthermore, leaders underlined that peace "cannot be realized without the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops and military equipment," and reiterated that threats by Russia of nuclear weapon use are "inadmissible."

5:23 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

EU calls on China to "press Russia to stop its military aggression"

From CNN's James Frater in London

European Council President Charles Michel speaks at a press conference at the media centre for the G7 Leaders' Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 19.
European Council President Charles Michel speaks at a press conference at the media centre for the G7 Leaders' Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 19. (Yuichi Yamazaki/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union has called on China to "press Russia to stop its military aggression," the president of the EU Council said Friday.

Speaking before the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Charles Michel also stressed the importance of strengthening the bloc’s relations with Beijing, saying that a “stable and constructive relation with China is in our mutual interest.”

However, Michel added the EU will remain "firm" on its values and will promote its interests.

Michel stressed the "need to engage together with China on global challenges: climate change, conservation of natural resources; biodiversity; debt sustainability,” given its role in the international community and its expansive economy.  

“China has a special responsibility in the world. It has to play by international rules. And we call on China to press Russia to stop its military aggression," Michel said.

"We will keep voicing our concerns on human rights whether it is in Hong Kong, in Xinjiang or in Tibet. We will not tolerate interferences in our countries that would undermine our democratic societies," he added.

Michel added that the EU will work to “reduce our over dependencies” on China and “create a true level playing field for our companies and for our workers.”

He also restated the bloc's commitment to its “One China policy” on Taiwan, adding that there was “no unilateral change of the status quo” on the EU side.

Russia's prime minister is due to visit China next week for trade talks, Moscow said on Friday.

4:48 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

Russian prime minister to meet with President Xi in China for trade talks

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu, Mengchen Zhang and Anna Chernova

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will visit China for trade talks next week and will meet with his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Russian government announced Friday. 

“Topical issues of Russian-Chinese cooperation in the trade and economic sphere will be considered. Particular attention is to be paid to interaction in industry, energy, transport infrastructure, agriculture and other areas,” the Russian government said in a statement. 

Russia’s economy has grown increasingly dependent on China following Western sanctions against Moscow. China announced on May 4 that Vladivostok, Russia’s main port in the Far East, will become a transit port for Chinese domestic goods moving from landlocked Jilin Province on the Sino-Russian border to the south of China. The new arrangement will take effect on June 1. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Friday that there is “strong resilience, sufficient potential and large space for cooperation between the two countries.”

Mishustin is due to be in China from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Some context: Much has been made of the growing ties between Beijing and Moscow, accelerated since the start of the war in Ukraine. But, well over a year since the beginning of the conflict, the nature and form of this new relationship is still unclear.

While Western allies have rushed to offer support to Ukraine – providing billions of dollars in military aid – China has not shown the same largesse toward Russia, its supposed ally. The United States has not seen evidence that China has provided systemic material support to the Kremlin, leading Russian President Vladimir Putin to have to turn to North Korea and Iran in search of military hardware.

4:20 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

Australia imposes new sanctions on Russia

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong and Angus Watson

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference on May 18, in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference on May 18, in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines. (Lisa Marie Davidl/Getty Images)

Australia announced new financial sanctions and an export ban on Russia, according to a joint media release from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Friday.

The sanctions will target 21 entities including subsidiaries of state-owned energy company Rosatom and Russia's largest petroleum and gold companies.

Defense entities supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine and five Russian banks, as well as three individuals have also been targeted, according to the release.

Meanwhile, Australia will also ban the export of all machinery and related parts to Russia and areas temporarily under Russian control.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the sanctions targeted sectors of economic and strategic importance to Russia.

It comes as Albanese arrived in Japan on Friday to attend the G7 Summit in Hiroshima.

“We will continue to work with the G7 and international partners to address the global impacts of Russia’s invasion,” Albanese said in the release. “This includes food and energy insecurity, which is a significant concern for our own region.”

Earlier, the United Kingdom and European Union also announced new sanctions on Russia.

4:04 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

Ukrainian drones shot down in Crimea, Russia-backed official says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Russian forces shot down four Ukrainian drones in Crimea, the Russia-backed governor of the occupied region said Friday.

“Overnight, four UAVs were shot down by air defense forces in North Crimea,” Sergey Aksenov said on Telegram.

There were no casualties or damage, he added.

Some context: The Ukrainian military has in recent months carried out attacks in Crimea to harass the Russian Black Sea fleet and disrupt vital Russian supply lines. Ukrainian leaders have previously stated that their goal is to recapture Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

3:00 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

Zelensky's attendance at G7 summit is "extremely important," says top Ukraine security official

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s attendance in person at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, is “extremely important,” a senior Ukrainian security official said Friday.

Zelensky's expected visit to Japan comes as Kyiv continues to look to its Western partners for military backing ahead of a highly anticipated counteroffensive.

“Very important things will be decided there,” Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said on Ukrainian television. “Therefore the physical presence of our president is absolutely important — to defend our interests, to explain, to provide clear proposals and clear arguments on the events that are taking place in our country.”

Danilov also stressed the importance of face-to-face meetings.

"Because when a person is far away, across the ocean or somewhere else, they do not always feel and understand what is happening here in our country," he added. "It is the physical presence of our president that is extremely, extremely important at such events."

G7 member countries — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — include Ukraine’s largest backers.

2:56 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

UK imposes new sanctions on Russia, targeting theft of Ukrainian grain

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

A tractor ploughs a field to plant sunflower seeds on a farm in Yemchykha, Ukraine, on May 1.
A tractor ploughs a field to plant sunflower seeds on a farm in Yemchykha, Ukraine, on May 1. Andrew Kravchenko/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The United Kingdom on Friday announced new sanctions against Russia, targeting companies connected to the theft of Ukrainian grain and those involved in the shipment of Russian energy.

"The 86 designations target individuals and organisations connected to Russia’s energy, metals, defence, transport, and financial sectors - ramping up pressure on Putin’s remaining revenue and attempts to use these sectors to support the military machine," the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.

Russian forces have been accused of stealing farm equipment and thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers in areas they have occupied, as well as targeting food storage sites with artillery.

The announcement comes as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets with G7 leaders in Hiroshima on Friday.

In an earlier statement Friday, the prime minister's office said the UK will ban the import of Russian diamonds, Russian-origin copper, aluminum and nickel under legislation to be introduced later this year.

Britain has sanctioned more than 1,500 individuals and entities since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began, freezing more than £18 billion ($22.3 billion) of assets in the UK, according to Downing Street.

2:36 a.m. ET, May 19, 2023

Zelensky to attend Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, diplomats tell CNN

From CNN's Irene Nasser

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on Friday, two Arab diplomats confirmed to CNN. 

CNN has reached out to Zelensky's office for confirmation. 

The Ukrainian leader is en route to Japan to attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit, according to an official familiar with the planning.

Officials have declined to say exactly when Zelensky would arrive in Hiroshima or detail his travel arrangements. He has been traveling outside his country more as the war grinds onward, including a tour of Europe last week.