May 21, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Hannah Ryan, Luke McGee, Adrienne Vogt and Joe Ruiz, CNN

Updated 12:13 AM ET, Sun May 22, 2022
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8:25 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

It's 3 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Residents take out their belongings from their house ruined by the Russian shelling in Irpin, Ukraine, on Saturday, May 21.
Residents take out their belongings from their house ruined by the Russian shelling in Irpin, Ukraine, on Saturday, May 21. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

In the early morning hours on Sunday in Ukraine, these are the latest developments in the war:

Russia bans more than 900 Americans from entering the country, including President Biden and Secretary Blinken: Russia published its updated "stop list" on Saturday, banning a total of 963 American officials and figures from entering the country.

The updated list included the majority of US senators and members of the House of Representatives, former and current government officials, journalists, military personnel, advocates, citizens, CEOs — and even a few deceased individuals.

Longtime Arizona. Sen. John McCain and Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Melissa Drisko, who both died in 2018, were included on the list, as well as Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State under President Donald Trump.

Russians destroy Pavlograd bridge between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk: Russians destroyed the bridge between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in Ukraine's Luhansk region, according to Serhiy Hayday, the head of the regional military administration, in a post on his Telegram page on Saturday.

Hayday said this will "greatly complicate the evacuation and delivery of humanitarian aid," but right now, "there is a connection between the cities."
Hayday also reported 57 people were evacuated on Saturday from the Luhansk region. 

More than a thousand apartments and 11 educational institutions are damaged in Lozova: A Russian missile strike on Lozova in the Kharkiv region on Friday damaged more than a thousand apartments and eleven educational institutions, according to Mayor Serhiy Zelensky in a video statement posted on Telegram Saturday. 

"The figures are shocking: 11 educational institutions, including five schools. There are questions about the amount of damage suffered by a hospital and a clinic. Our Palace of Culture was completely destroyed too," said Zelensky. 

More than 1,000 educational institutions destroyed by Russian Army since the start of the war: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 1,000 educational institutions have been destroyed by the Russian Army since the start of the war.

“The Russian Army destroyed 1,873 educational institutions. This is a colossal scale of losses,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on Saturday. 

The figure includes primary schools, universities, kindergartens, and other institutes impacted by Russian shelling since the war began last February.

'The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult,': Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday "the situation in Donbas is extremely difficult," as the Russian army has been escalating the attacks on Slovyansk and Severodonetsk over the past few days.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine are deterring this offensive. Every day that our defenders take away from these offensive plans of Russia, disrupting them, is a concrete contribution to the approach of the main day. The desired day that we are all looking forward to and fighting for: Victory Day," Zelensky said.
7:32 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

'The situation in Donbas is extremely difficult,' President Zelensky says 

From CNN's Mariya Knight 

(Office of President of Ukraine)
(Office of President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday "the situation in Donbas is extremely difficult," as the Russian army has been escalating the attacks on Slovyansk and Severodonetsk over the past few days.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine are deterring this offensive. Every day that our defenders take away from these offensive plans of Russia, disrupting them, is a concrete contribution to the approach of the main day. The desired day that we are all looking forward to and fighting for: Victory Day," Zelensky said.

"No Russian strikes; neither by missiles in the Rivne region, nor by artillery in the Kharkiv or Sumy region, nor by all possible weapons in Donbas, will give Russia any result," Zelensky added.

6:31 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

More than 1,000 educational institutions destroyed by Russian Army since the start of the war, President Zelensky says

From CNN's Mariya Knight 

The remains of a destroyed school in which Ukrainian official say 60 people sheltering in a basement died following a Russian military strike on the village of Bilogorivka, Lugansk region, eastern Ukraine, is pictured on May 13.
The remains of a destroyed school in which Ukrainian official say 60 people sheltering in a basement died following a Russian military strike on the village of Bilogorivka, Lugansk region, eastern Ukraine, is pictured on May 13. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 1,000 educational institutions have been destroyed by the Russian Army since the start of the war.

“The Russian Army destroyed 1,873 educational institutions. This is a colossal scale of losses,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on Saturday. 

The figure includes primary schools, universities, kindergartens, and other institutes impacted by Russian shelling since the war began last February.

Zelensky said Portugal had offered to help rebuild Ukrainian schools and kindergartens during his meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Kyiv.

Zelensky also spoke with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi over the phone on Saturday, during which the president thanked Italy for supporting Ukraine’s path to the European Union. Zelensky said both leaders agreed the sixth package of sanctions against Russia should be “accelerated.”

6:28 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

More than a thousand apartments and 11 educational institutions are damaged in Lozova, city mayor says

From CNN's Mariya Knight 

Firefighters work at the scene after an airstrike on the Cultural Center, in Lozova, Kharkiv region, Ukraine on Friday, May 20.
Firefighters work at the scene after an airstrike on the Cultural Center, in Lozova, Kharkiv region, Ukraine on Friday, May 20. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)

A Russian missile strike on Lozova in the Kharkiv region on Friday damaged more than a thousand apartments and eleven educational institutions, according to Mayor Serhiy Zelensky in a video statement posted on Telegram Saturday. 

"The figures are shocking: 11 educational institutions, including five schools. There are questions about the amount of damage suffered by a hospital and a clinic. Our Palace of Culture was completely destroyed too," said Zelensky. 
"Among the damaged educational facilities is the Lozova branch of the Kharkiv Automobile and Road College. Educational building number 1, training and production workshops, and a dormitory that are located on the territory of the college suffered damage as well," Mayor Zelensky added.

CNN reported Friday a Russian missile destroyed the House of Culture in Lozova, injuring seven, including an 11-year-old child, according to Ukraine's Office of the President.

Lozova is located roughly 73 kilometers, or 45 miles, southwest of Izium, a Russian-occupied city in the Kharkiv oblast. 

6:17 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

Russians destroy Pavlograd bridge between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, regional official says

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Julia Presniakova 

Russians destroyed the bridge between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in Ukraine's Luhansk region, according to Serhiy Hayday, the head of the regional military administration, in a post on his Telegram page on Saturday.

Hayday said this will "greatly complicate the evacuation and delivery of humanitarian aid," but right now, "there is a connection between the cities."

This is the second time it happened, Hayday added. 

According to Hayday, in July 2014, during the liberation of Lysychansk, militants blew up the span of the bridge during the enemy retreat. Since then, communication between the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk -- both of which have a population of roughly a hundred thousand people -- has been difficult. The bridge was rebuilt in 2016. 

Hayday also reported 57 people were evacuated on Saturday from the Luhansk region. 

"It is very hot in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and Belogorovka right now. The shelling does not stop even for an hour. The Russians use artillery day and night. Every life of the 57 rescued from these settlements is important to us today. They are safe and secure," Hayday said. 

Earlier on Saturday, CNN reported at least six people had been killed in Russian attacks in the city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine's Luhansk region. 

6:21 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

Russia bans more than 900 Americans from entering the country, including President Biden and Secretary Blinken 

From Gabby Gretener in London

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 17, in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 17, in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Russia published its updated "stop list" on Saturday, banning a total of 963 American officials and figures from entering the country.

The updated list included the majority of US senators and members of the House of Representatives, former and current government officials, journalists, military personnel, advocates, citizens, CEOs — and even a few deceased individuals.

Longtime Arizona. Sen. John McCain and Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Melissa Drisko, who both died in 2018, were included on the list.

Russia also targeted Hollywood, with actor Morgan Freeman and actor/filmmaker Rob Reiner making the list. In 2017, Reiner was involved in promoting the group The Committee to Investigate Russia, and Freeman was featured in a video on the site.

Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State under President Donald Trump, was also listed. He previously spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about its election interference in US elections.

In a statement, the ministry said the people included "incite Russophobia" and added the Russian "counter sanctions are of necessity and directed to make the ruling US regime, which tries to impose a neocolonial "rules-based world order" to the rest of the world, to change its behavior by realizing a new geopolitical reality."  

The growing list also includes several CNN contributors, though listed for their former duties, not a CNN association. They are David Axelrod, John Kasich, Wesley Clark, James Clapper, and Susan Glasser.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, International Security Editor, was also listed on the "stop list." Walsh is a British citizen.

In a separate announcement on Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry also announced the names of 26 Canadians barred from entering the country, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.  
4:00 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

It's 11 p.m. in Ukraine. Catch up here

Local residents collect salvageable items from their home in a frontline neighborhood on May 21, in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Local residents collect salvageable items from their home in a frontline neighborhood on May 21, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (John Moore/Getty Images)

As the war in Ukraine nears its three-month mark, these are the latest developments from Saturday:

Russia bans more than 900 Americans: In a largely symbolic gesture, Russia banned hundreds more Americans from entering the country — including most members of Congress, actor Morgan Freeman and the late Sen. John McCain, who died in 2018. US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with other administration officials, had already been included on the list.

Russia turns off tap: Russia halted natural gas exports to Finland on Saturday, according to a statement from Finnish state-owned energy firm Gasum. Russia cited "non-payment" as its reasoning, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said in March that “unfriendly” foreign nations would have to pay in rubles. Finland officially submitted its NATO application this week.

Turkey's president calls Nordic, NATO leaders: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held separate phone conversations Saturday with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg regarding the NATO membership application of the Nordic nations. The moves to join NATO were triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Erdoğan has stated numerous times in recent days that Turkey would not support Finland and Sweden to join NATO. The Finnish president said he had an "open and direct" conversation with Erdoğan. The legislatures of all 30 current members of the alliance must approve new applicants.

What we know about Mariupol: For weeks, the Azovstal steel plant has been the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in the otherwise Russian-occupied city of Mariupol. On Friday, Russia claimed the last Ukrainian fighters had surrendered — which, if true, marks a symbolic military victory for Moscow. Ukraine has not yet confirmed this, and CNN is unable to independently verify the claim. It comes after a Ukrainian commander at Azovstal ordered soldiers to preserve their lives and stop their defense of the city. Meanwhile, Ukrainian families anxiously wait to hear from loved ones leaving Azovstal.

Zelensky marks third year in office: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the people of Ukraine as the "people of the year" in an anniversary interview marking his three years as leader of the country. He predicted the Russian invasion will end with diplomacy.

"We did not start this war. But we have to finish it," Zelensky said.

Russia attacks military supplies: Russia’s military said Saturday that it had destroyed a "large" batch of weapons and military equipment from the US and Europe in Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region west of Kyiv, Russian state media TASS reported.

Head of the Rivne Regional Military Administration Vitaliy Koval said that there was a missile strike on a military infrastructure facility in his city as well.

Sanctions stymie trade: Russia's transportation minister said on Saturday that Western sanctions against Russia have “practically broken all” logistics corridors used by the country for trade, according to TASS.

3:15 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

Russia attacks military infrastructure facility in Rivne, regional official says

From CNN`s Mariya Knight, Taras Zadorozhnyy and Roman Tymotsko

Head of the Rivne Regional Military Administration Vitaliy Koval said in a Telegram post that there was a missile strike on a military infrastructure facility in his city Saturday. 

“No one was killed, 6 people were injured,” Koval said in a video statement on Telegram.  

The injured are in stable condition, he said, and he visited them in the local hospital. He has issued a stay-at-home warning for the next 24 hours for residents of Rivne in case of further missile strikes. 

Rivne is about 210 kilometers (130 miles) to the northeast of Lviv.

3:46 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

Turkey's president holds calls with leaders of Sweden and Finland over NATO bids

From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Isil Sariyuce, and Hande Atay Alam 

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan holds a news conference during the NATO summit at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021.
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan holds a news conference during the NATO summit at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021. Yves Herman/Pool/Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held separate phone conversations Saturday with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg regarding the NATO membership application of the Nordic nations. 

Erdoğan has stated numerous times in recent days that Turkey would not support Finland and Sweden to join NATO and accused them of being "like guesthouses for terror organizations." Erdoğan claimed the two countries are harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan's Workers Party, also known as PKK. 

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO last Wednesday. 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. The entry of Finland would mean adding hundreds of miles of direct NATO borders with Russia.

During the phone call with Andersson, Erdoğan stated that "Turkey has for a long time emphasized that it is uncomfortable with Sweden's contacts with individuals and so-called organizations under the control of the terrorist organization PKK/YPG/PYD and Sweden's political, financial and weapon support to terrorist organizations must end," according to a statement from the Turkish presidency. 

The YPG is a Syrian Kurdish group in northern Syria supported by various Western countries. The YPG is an ally in the fight against ISIS, but Turkey considers it an extension of the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

Andersson said she appreciated speaking with the Turkish president today.

"We look forward to strengthening our bilateral relations, including on peace, security, and the fight against terrorism," according to the prime minister's Twitter account. 

Erdoğan told Niinistö on the phone that "an understanding that ignores terrorist organizations that pose a threat to an ally within NATO is incompatible with the spirit of friendship and alliance," according to the Turkish presidency. 

Niinistö also wrote on his Twitter account about his "open and direct" conversation with Erdogan, saying:

"I stated that as NATO Allies, Finland and Turkey will commit to each other’s security and our relationship will thus grow stronger. Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The close dialogue continues."

Erdoğan also told Stoltenberg on the phone that "unless Sweden and Finland clearly show that they will stand in solidarity with Turkey on fundamental issues, especially in the fight against terrorism, Turkey will not approach their NATO membership positively," according to the presidency.

Stoltenberg said on his Twitter account that "we agree that the security concerns of all Allies must be taken into account and talks need to continue to find a solution."

The legislatures of all 30 current members of the alliance must approve new applicants.