May 22, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Nectar Gan, Andrew Raine, Luke McGee, Joe Ruiz, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 23, 2022
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5:30 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Lithuania to cut imports of Russian energy supplies

From CNN’s Alex Stambaugh and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong

Lithuania will have completely cut imports of Russian energy supplies including oil, electricity and natural gas from Sunday.

The country’s Ministry of Energy said in a statement on Friday that the pan-European power exchange Nord Pool had decided to stop trading Russian electricity with its only importer in the Baltic States, Russian utility Inter RAO – meaning the country would no longer be importing any Russian energy. 

"Not only it is an extremely important milestone for Lithuania in its journey towards energy independence, but it is also an expression of our solidarity with Ukraine,” Lithuanian Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys said. “We must stop financing Russian war machine.”

Lithuania’s announcement was praised by Oleksandr Korniyenko, first deputy speaker of Ukraine’s parliament. 

“Lithuania officially stops importing Russian gas, oil and electricity. An excellent example for other allies of how to gain independence from Russian energy resources,” Korniyenko wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

5:38 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Russians attack strategically important city overnight but are pushed back

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Smoke rises during shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 21.
Smoke rises during shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 21. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

The strategically important city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine was attacked from multiple directions overnight, but the Russians were pushed back, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said Sunday.

“Severodonetsk was assaulted from four sides at once, but the enemy was repelled and retreated to previous positions,” the presidential morning briefing said.

Seven houses in Severodonetsk and at least 27 houses in surrounding towns and villages were damaged, the statement said. 

The attack on Severodonetsk was part of a broader assault along the line of contact between Russian and Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian military general staff said. 

“The enemy fired with mortars and artillery on the positions of the Defense Forces along the entire line of contact, concentrating efforts in the direction of the settlements of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk,” the Ukrainian military said in its morning briefing.

“The enemy forces are preparing to resume the offensive in the Sloviansk direction,” the Ukrainian general staff said, referring to another key city in the area.

Severodonetsk and Sloviansk are key to controlling Ukraine’s Luhansk region. Parts of Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk have been controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

The current phase of the Russian campaign in Ukraine is aimed at securing control of all of the separatist regions.

5:19 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Zelensky accuses Russia of blocking 22 million tons of food, warns of food crisis 

From CNN's Svitlana Budzhak-Jones and Alex Stambaugh

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attend a new conference with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 21.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attend a new conference with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 21. ((Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of blocking the export of 22 million tons of food products and warned that if its ports are not unblocked, many countries will face a food crisis.

"The world community must help Ukraine unblock seaports, otherwise the energy crisis will be followed by a food crisis and many more countries will face it," Zelensky said during a meeting with media following talks with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa in Kyiv on Saturday, according to the president's office.

"Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food -- our grain, barley, sunflower and more. A lot of things," he said, according to the statement. 

"There will be a crisis in the world. The second crisis after the energy one, which was provoked by Russia. Now it will create a food crisis if we do not unblock the routes for Ukraine, do not help the countries of Africa, Europe, Asia, which need these food products

"You can unblock them in different ways. One of the ways is a military solution. That is why we turn to our partners with inquiries regarding the relevant weapons,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky also accused Moscow of "gradually stealing" food products and trying to sell them.

"Russia puts millions of people at risk of hunger by blocking our ports," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also tweeted Saturday, adding that Ukraine has established with its partners two alternative land routes to deliver food exports and "save Africa and other regions from hunger."

Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for almost 30% of global trade, and Ukraine is the world's fourth largest exporter of corn and the fifth largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department.

The United Nations World Food Program -- which helps combat global food insecurity -- buys about half of its wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if the Ukrainian ports are not opened up. 

2:50 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Polish president to address Ukraine's parliament

From CNN's Svitlana Budzhak-Jones and Josh Pennington

Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Polish President Andrzej Duda. (Jens Büttner/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Poland's President Andrzej Duda has arrived in Ukraine, his office said Sunday.

Duda will deliver a speech to Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, as the first foreign head of state to address the council since the war began, the president's office said in a statement.

It didn't give details on the timing of his remarks.

12:43 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Azov regiment prisoners could be swapped for oligarch Medvedchuk: Russia state media

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh in Hong Kong 

Moscow is considering exchanging Ukrainian prisoners from the Azov regiment for Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician and oligarch, according to Russian state media.

“We will study the matter," Leonid Slutsky, a Russian delegation member for the Ukraine-Russia talks, said during a visit to the occupied city of Donetsk, Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported Saturday.

Medvedchuk was detained by Ukrainian authorities in April in a "special operation", Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier this year. 

Announcing Medvedchuk's detention in April, Zelensky posted a photo of a handcuffed and disheveled-looking Medvedchuk wearing fatigues on Telegram, with the caption: "A special operation was carried out thanks to the SBU [the Security Service of Ukraine]. Well done!"

Prior to Russia's invasion, Medvedchuk had faced allegations of treason in Ukraine and had been under house arrest. His whereabouts had been unknown in the weeks following the invasion. Some observers speculated that Medvedchuk or one of his allies might be the Kremlin's preference to lead a puppet government in Ukraine if the Feb. 24 invasion succeeded in toppling Zelensky.

12:01 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

It's 7 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)

More than 1,000 education institutions in Ukraine have been destroyed by Russian forces since the war began, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with that figure including primary schools, kindergartens and universities.

Here are the latest updates in the war in Ukraine:

Russia bans Biden: Russia has banned more than 900 Americans from entering the country, including President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony 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.

Bridge destroyed: Russian forces have destroyed the Pavlograd 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. 

Carnage in Lozova: A Russian missile strike on Lozova in the Kharkiv region on Friday damaged more than a thousand apartments and 11 educational institutions, according to Mayor Serhiy Zelensky. 

"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," the mayor said Saturday in a video statement on Telegram.

Educational institutions hit: More than 1,000 Ukrainian educational institutions have been destroyed by the Russian army since the start of the war, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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 hit by Russian shelling since the war began last February.

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

"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.

11:59 p.m. ET, May 21, 2022

Russia's war on Ukraine is changing Japan's security calculus in Asia

From CNN's Emiko Jozuka and Blake Essig

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is a man on a mission.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, he has imposed sanctions on Moscow, agreed to pursue a nuclear-free world with the Pope and taken a diplomatic tour of Southeast Asia and Europe to rally world leaders to protect democracy.

But it's not just democracy in Ukraine that he's trying to protect -- Kishida sees parallels between Russia's actions in Europe and China's expansion in the Indo-Pacific, a region stretching from America's Pacific coastline to the Indian Ocean.

"We strongly oppose any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force, regardless of the location," said Kishida, in a joint statement with European Union leaders in May. The same statement included a clause expressing "serious concern about reports of militarization, coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea," though it didn't name China as the aggressor.

Japan's location places it in an increasingly volatile security environment -- flanked by China to its south, nuclear-armed North Korea to the west and Russia to its north. As a result, the war in Ukraine has catalyzed debates on Japan's national security like never before.

Read the full story: Japan turns away from post-war pacifism as China threat grows

2:00 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Donbas situation '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 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," Zelensky said.

The desired day that we are all looking forward to and fighting for: Victory Day.

"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.

2:00 a.m. ET, May 22, 2022

More than 1,000 apartments and 11 educational institutions 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 1,000 apartments and 11 educational institutions, according to Mayor Serhiy Zelensky.

"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," Mayor Zelensky said on Telegram on Saturday. 

"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 had 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 roughly 73 kilometers, or 45 miles, southwest of Izium, a Russian-occupied city in the Kharkiv region.