May 27, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Joshua Berlinger, Thom Poole, Tori B. Powell and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 4:55 p.m. ET, May 27, 2023
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10:06 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

Explosions reported in Mariupol, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Three explosions have been reported in Mariupol, a southern Ukrainian city occupied by Russia, a Ukrainian official said Saturday.

One of the explosions was caused by Russian air defense systems in Nikolske, a settlement just northwest of the city, Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the city's Ukrainian mayor, wrote on Telegram.

Smoke can also be seen rising from the side of a railway station in the area, according to Andriushchenko.

Pro-Russian officials have in recent days accused Ukraine of striking Mariupol, a city it once fiercely defended. Andriushchenko has commented on the blasts online, but the Ukrainian military has not officially claimed responsibility for the attacks.

CNN cannot independently verify battlefield developments.

9:23 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

Hundreds of German civil servants are being expelled from Russia

From CNN's Claudia Otto in Berlin 

Hundreds of German diplomats and state employees living and working in Russia have been expelled by Moscow and given just days to leave the country, a spokesperson from Germany's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Saturday's order is the latest in a series of tit-for-tat expulsions that began after Germany decided to kick out several Russian diplomats who had been accused of working for Russia's intelligence service. Russia responded by expelling 20 German diplomats in April.

The foreign ministry spokesperson said the latest order applies to German diplomats, state employees working in Russia and teachers at the government-sponsored Goethe Institute, which offers German language courses and cultural exchange programs. All must leave the country by June 1.

The statement called the latest move "unjustified" and "incomprehensible."

"This limit, set by Russia as of the beginning of June, requires a major cut in all areas of our presence in Russia," the statement read. "The Federal Government is now concerned to ensure a minimum presence of intermediaries in Russia while maintaining a diplomatic presence as well."

8:40 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

Russian construction worker killed in mortar shelling, regional governor says

From CNN's Darya Tarasova

Ukrainian mortar shelling killed a construction worker in the Russian border district of Sudzhansky, the regional governor claimed on Telegram Saturday.

The worker had been stationed near the village of Plekhovo, where crews were fortifying the defensive line along the state border, according to Roman Starovoyt, the Kursk region governor.

Plekhovo is less than two miles from the Ukrainian border, in western Russia.

10:16 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

Analysis: Ukraine’s counteroffensive is shrouded in confusion. That may be the plan

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, Vasco Cotovio and Fred Pleitgen

Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, attends a ceremony on March 10, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, attends a ceremony on March 10, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Yurii Stefanyak/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, has added to speculation that a long-expected massive counteroffensive by Kyiv against Russia’s occupying forces could be imminent. 

“The time has come to take back what is ours,” Zaluzhnyi wrote Saturday morning.

Zaluzhnyi's post comes after about a month of potential hints that a counteroffensive operation could be in the works, including an uptick in certain types of attacks and the deployment of military hardware.

Officially, however, the operation has not begun. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will have final say on when the operation is set to begin. But he may not even do that publicly, to keep Moscow off-balance.

"We are clearly aware of when, where, how and what should start,” Zelensky's national security adviser, Oleksiy Danilov, told CNN on Tuesday. “The final decision is up to the president ... when the decision is made, Russia will definitely feel it."

It is possible we only learn the counteroffensive has begun when its first tangible results are revealed. A lot of what is happening is not playing out in public, even if the plan is set in stone.

CNN's William Bonnett and Svitlana Vlasova contributed to this post.

6:47 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

Fresh explosions reported in the Russian-occupied port city of Berdiansk

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv, Ukraine

Explosions were reported close to the Russian-occupied city of Berdiansk in southern Ukraine on Saturday, marking the second time in 48 hours the port city was hit.

Ukrainian official Viktor Dudukalov, the exiled deputy chairman of the Berdiansk District Council, told Ukrainian national television that facilities housing Russian soldiers in the village of Novopetrivka were hit. The targets were about 15 kilometers (9 miles) to the northeast of the city center.

Dudukalov suggested the hits could have been from “Storm Shadow” cruise missiles, which Britain said it had given to Ukraine several weeks ago. With the acquisition of those missiles, Kyiv's forces were given the ability to strike targets further into Russian-occupied territory.

Ukraine’s armed forces typically do not officially comment on types of weaponry used in particular strikes.

Some background: Russia captured Berdiansk in the first week of its full-scale invasion in February 2022 and then subsequently used it to land its warships. The port city had previously been hit by a missile strike in the early hours of Thursday, according to an official working for the Russian authorities who occupy the city.

10:02 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

A Russian strike on a Ukranian hospital killed at least 2 people. Here's where things stand

From CNN staff

Firefighters extinguish a fire in a hospital building hit by a Russian missile on May 26, in Dnipro, Ukraine.
Firefighters extinguish a fire in a hospital building hit by a Russian missile on May 26, in Dnipro, Ukraine. Yurii Tynnyi/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

It is approaching 1 p.m. in Ukraine, where first responders have finished working to clear debris after a devastating Russian strike on the Ukrainian city of Dnipro yesterday.

  • Search and rescue complete: After working through the night, emergency services finished clearing the rubble of the three-story medical facility in Dnipro that had been struck by Russian forces a day earlier, Ukrainian authorities said Saturday.
  • The toll: At least two people were killed and another 32 were wounded, including five in critical condition. Two of those injured were children, ages 3 and 6. Three people remained unaccounted for as of Saturday morning.
  • Vet clinic among sites struck: More than three dozen high-rise buildings, at least 20 private houses, several schools and a local stadium were damaged in the attack, a local official said. A veterinary clinic was also struck, forcing staff to save animals from the burning building.
  • War crimes condemnation: An incensed adviser to Ukraine's president called the attacks "clear evidence" that Russia intentionally targets civilians with strikes like the one on Dnipro. The adviser said such attacks should be considered war crimes — a sentiment echoed by the French government. There have been more than 900 attacks on Ukraine's health care system since Russia's full-scale invasion began, according to the World Health Organization.
8:51 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

Top Ukraine military official hints counteroffensive could be imminent

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Andrew Carey in Kyiv

Ukrainian military conducts training on Leopard 2 tanks at the test site on May 14.
Ukrainian military conducts training on Leopard 2 tanks at the test site on May 14. Serhii Mykhalchuk/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images

In a short but surely carefully crafted post on the messaging app Telegram, the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces has ratcheted up speculation that a massive counteroffensive against Russia’s occupying forces could be imminent. 

“The time has come to take back what is ours,” General Valerii Zaluzhnyi wrote Saturday morning.

The text appears underneath a video just over a minute in length showing Ukrainian forces apparently training at sunrise.

The video shows an array of Western-provided equipment, including German-made Leopard 2 tanks, seen as one of the key battlefield acquisitions by Ukraine in recent months, as well as US-made MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) armored vehicles, M777 artillery pieces and HIMARS rocket launchers.

The video ends with soldiers and their commander chanting a defiant message: “Ukraine, my native motherland, Lord, our heavenly father, bless our decisive offensive, our sacred revenge, our holy victory.”

Officially the counteroffensive is yet to begin. As we have previously reported, the different signals from Ukraine may be an attempt to keep Moscow off-balance.

5:57 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

Search operations completed at site of Dnipro medical facility 

From CNN's Olga Voitovych 

A firefighter examines the destroyed building of a medical facility, the site of a missile strike, in the city of Dnipro on May 26.
A firefighter examines the destroyed building of a medical facility, the site of a missile strike, in the city of Dnipro on May 26. Vitalii Matokha/AFP/Getty Images

Search and rescue operations at the site of a medical facility in the city of Dnipro that was struck by Russian forces have been completed, State Emergency Service of Ukraine said on Saturday. 

Rescuers have finished clearing the rubble of the three-story building, the service said. 

More than three dozen high-rise buildings and more than 20 private houses were damaged around the site of the Friday attack, Serhii Lysak, head of the regional military administration, said on the messaging app Telegram Saturday. 

"There is damage to the stadium, and also in three schools and three kindergartens," Lysak said.
5:54 a.m. ET, May 27, 2023

One person killed in Russian shelling of Kherson 

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh and Josh Pennington 

One person was killed after Russian shelling of Ukrainian-held parts of Kherson, Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of the Kherson regional military administration, said on Saturday. 

Prokudin claimed Russia had launched "45 attacks, firing 193 shells from mortars, artillery, Grad, tanks, UAVs and aircraft" on the region over the past day.

He said the shelling occurred in residential areas of the region's settlements, including a grain elevator in the Beryslav district.