May 23, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Andrew Raine, Amy Woodyatt, Hafsa Khalil, Ed Upright and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:27 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022
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11:27 p.m. ET, May 22, 2022

"Staggering milestone" as over 100 million people forced to flee conflict, a record propelled by Ukraine war

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

A man gets out of an evacuation van in Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on May 21.
A man gets out of an evacuation van in Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on May 21. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

More than 100 million people have been forced to flee conflict, violence and persecution, a record figure setting a “staggering milestone,” the United Nations refugee agency said Monday.

The number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution has now crossed the staggering milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, propelled by the war in Ukraine and other deadly conflicts,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

“One hundred million is a stark figure — sobering and alarming in equal measure. It’s a record that should never have been set,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“This must serve as a wake-up call to resolve and prevent destructive conflicts, end persecution, and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes.”

The UNHCR said the war in Ukraine has displaced 8 million within the country this year, and more than 6 million refugee movements from Ukraine have been registered. The number has also been propelled by "new waves of violence" or conflict in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

11:25 p.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Ukrainian President Zelensky announces "historic" joint customs control with Poland

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Pierre Meilhan

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his nightly address, on Sunday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his nightly address, on Sunday. (Youtube/Office of President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a “historic” joint customs control with Poland on Sunday, stressing “unity of Ukrainians and Poles is a constant that no one will break.”

"A solution has been reached that is revolutionizing the order on our border," Zelensky said during his nightly video address. "We are introducing joint customs control with Poland. This will significantly speed up border procedures. It will remove most of the corruption risks. But it is also the beginning of our integration into the common customs space of the European Union. That is a truly historic process."

Zelensky's comments came on the heels of Polish President Andrzej Duda’s visit to Kyiv earlier in the day. Duda also emphasized the unity between the two countries as he became the first foreign leader since the Russian invasion to address Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada.

Zelensky described Ukrainian-Polish relations as "finally on a completely clean, sincere basis, without any quarrels and old conflict heritage. This is an achievement — the historic achievement of our people. And I want the brotherhood between Ukrainians and Poles to be preserved forever. As I talked about it today in front of the deputies, our unity of Ukrainians and Poles is a constant that no one will break."

Zelensky also said he signed a decree introducing a new award "to thank those cities of partner countries that have helped the most. And Rzeszow became the first such city. The savior city. It is fair to say."

The Ukrainian leader also announced the preparation of a bill that will mirror the law passed in Poland about Ukrainian citizens who sought refuge in Poland and who "have been legally given the same opportunities as Poles."

Nearly 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees have entered Poland since the Russian invasion in February, making it by far the single largest host nation for people fleeing the country, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 

"It will be the right gesture to pass such a law in Ukraine," Zelensky said. "Let it be so that the citizens of Poland will never have to use such a law. But let us show our gratitude and our respect."

The Ukrainian leader also said he spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and "discussed ways to increase the volume of our exports, especially agricultural products. As well as the volume of fuel imports to Ukraine."

11:23 p.m. ET, May 22, 2022

UK will ensure Ukraine can export to rest of world, says Prime Minister Boris Johnson

From CNN’s Cecelia Armstrong in London

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Paddington Station in London on May 17.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Paddington Station in London on May 17. (Andrew Matthews/Pool/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will "redouble efforts to provide vital food and humanitarian aid" to Ukraine, his office said Sunday.

During a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Johnson spoke about the "despicable" blockade of the key port city of Odesa, according to the statement. The Prime Minister will work to "ensure that the country is able to export to the rest of the world," according to a 10 Downing Street statement.

The leaders agreed on the need for the international community to remain united in its condemnation of Putin’s barbarism," Downing Street said.

Johnson said, "every country has a duty to help Ukraine in their struggle for freedom, both now and in the long-term." He reiterated the British people are "1,000% behind the people of Ukraine."

11:21 p.m. ET, May 22, 2022

Davos venue usually used by Russia to promote itself rebranded as "Russian War Crimes House"

From CNN's Chris Liakos in Davos, Switzerland

The venue typically used by Russia to promote itself at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos has been rebranded as the "Russian War Crimes House." 

Russia House was used to host events at WEF by Russians for many years. A Ukrainian businessman, working with WEF, has turned the venue into an exhibition depicting the devastation and destruction of the war in Ukraine. 

Organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and PinchukArtCentre, an international center for contemporary art based in Kyiv, “the exhibition aims to inform about the main facts, share faces, names and dates and provide at least some of the victims a platform from which to tell their real story,” the foundation said in a news release.

Björn Geldhof, the exhibition's curator, said the process of collecting and verifying the images took about one-and-a-half weeks, collecting more than 4,600 images showing “overwhelming amount of evidence of war crimes.”

“An exhibition as this, is one of the steps to raise awareness for the absolute necessity of bringing war criminals to justice and this is not exclusively the task of Ukraine, this is a common task, this is a task for all countries in the world to say this cannot be,” Geldhof said.

Russian politicians and businessmen were not invited to this year’s World Economic Forum following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

As Russia is not here, we had the opportunity to speak about Russia but about a different reality of Russia, about the war crimes that Russia is committing in Ukraine,” Geldhof said.