May 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Andrew Raine, Brad Lendon, Rob Picheta and Hafsa Khalil, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 31, 2022
19 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:48 p.m. ET, May 30, 2022

EU officials push for "difficult" Russian oil embargo agreement before leaders meet

From CNN’s Rob Picheta, James Frater and Amy Cassidy

European Union officials are renewing efforts to agree on a Russian oil embargo on Monday, after a difficult weekend of talks ended in deadlock and delayed a sixth round of European sanctions against Moscow.

The EU’s 27 ambassadors failed to find an agreement on Sunday night, an official told journalists in Brussels, but talks continued on Monday ahead of an extraordinary meeting of European leaders later in the day.

The bloc has repeatedly struggled to get countries including Hungary on side when negotiating Russian sanctions, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has for weeks resisted the possibility of banning the import of Russian oil.

"I think what I've seen in the room is that there is a willingness from all member states to work on oil and to ban oil from European markets," an EU official told reporters Sunday.

"The question is, how to do it and how to cater for national specificities since some member states are more dependent on this than others."

"If you target oil, you have certain countries that are 100% dependent on Russian oil, and the phase out is quite a challenge. So, this is what you need to fine tune," the official said.

'Difficult' negotiations: In a separate briefing, a senior diplomat from an EU country told journalists that the technicalities of an oil embargo were "extremely difficult" to solve. And countries like Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were still seeking assurances over security of supply issues. 

The senior EU diplomat also explained that, given the complexity of the oil sector across Europe, the EU has to "be very careful in the crafting of legislation and conclusions" in order to preserve the level-playing-field of the EU’s internal market. 

The diplomat expected the issue of oil and the sixth round of sanctions to be discussed by leaders at the extraordinary European Council (EUCO) meeting Monday, but didn’t think the heads of state and government would be able to solve technical issues.

"I think we are now in the last stretch of trying to get this done," they added. 

Where Hungary stands: While Orban ultimately agreed to the EU’s previous rounds of sanctions against Russia, he has repeatedly said he would not support a ban on Russian oil and gas.

"While we condemn Russia’s armed offensive and we also condemn the war, we will not allow Hungarian families to be made to pay the price of the war; and so the sanctions must not be extended to the areas of oil and gas," Orban said in a statement following bilateral talks in London with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in March.

That position was a central plank in Orban’s campaign for re-election, which he secured in a poll in April. Hungary is heavily dependent on Russian energy and Orban has declined to condemn Putin’s invasion as unambiguously as most of his colleagues on the continent.

But there is growing frustration in Europe with his stance.

"Intense talks are ongoing" on a Russian oil embargo, German Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck told CNN on Friday. But "the question is whether Viktor Orban, Hungary, [is] willing to stay in the solidarity of Europe and the transatlantic partnership, and right now it does not seem this way."

6:50 p.m. ET, May 30, 2022

It's 2 p.m. in Ukraine. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Fighting in Ukraine's Donbas region has intensified in recent days, with Russia piling resources towards several towns but facing tough Ukrainian counter-offensives elsewhere.

It's 2 p.m. in Ukraine, midday in London and 7 a.m. on the east coast. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine:

  • Melitopol car bomb: Russian state media reported that a car bomb had detonated in the occupied city of Melitopol on Monday, claiming the explosion occurred near the House of Culture where Russian officials are operating. Three people were reportedly injured in the blast.
  • Donbas the "priority": Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow's "absolute priority" is what he called the "liberation" of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine’s two eastern regions that make up the Donbas. Russia’s offensive has zeroed in on the region since its troops failed to take Kyiv and other parts of central Ukraine, and fighting there has ramped up in recent days.
  • Shelling in Donetsk: Three civilians were killed and several others wounded in fierce fighting in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Sunday, an update from the regional military administration for Donetsk said on Monday. Russian forces shelled areas north of the city of Donetsk with small arms, tanks, artillery, mortars, and MLRS "Grad" rockets, the statement said. 
  • Russian attacks in Severodonetsk: Russian forces are "advancing into the middle of the city" of Severodonetsk in northeast Ukraine, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration Serhiy Hayday said on Monday. Two people were killed and five others wounded in attacks on Sunday, and 50 houses were destroyed, Hayday said. The Ukrainian military also says Russian shelling across the border into the northern regions of Sumy and Chernihiv has resumed. 
  • Ukrainian counterattack: The Ukrainian military says it has begun a counter-offensive against Russian forces in the south of the country and has claimed significant advances in the direction of Kherson. Serhii Hlan, a deputy who sits on the Kherson region council, said Ukrainian forces "continued offensive operations and pushed the enemy back 9 kilometers (5 miles) in the Beryslav district." Hlan also claimed that Ukrainian units "broke the enemy grouping into two parts and actually encircled the enemy grouping in Davidiv Brid." 
  • Zelensky meets leaders: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will welcome French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna in Kyiv on Monday to discuss a shortfall in grain exports from Ukraine. On Sunday, Zelensky visited "front line positions" of the military and met soldiers in Kharkiv, in a rare trip from the country’s capital. "You risk your life for all of us and our state. Thank you for defending Ukraine's independence," he told troops.
  • EU pushes for oil embargo: European Union officials are renewing efforts to agree on a Russian oil embargo on Monday, after a difficult weekend of talks ended in deadlock and delayed a sixth round of European sanctions against Moscow. The bloc has struggled to get Hungary to support sanctions on Russian energy. Later on Monday, EU leaders will meet in an extraordinary summit.
1:54 p.m. ET, May 30, 2022

"Shelling along the front line does not stop" in Donetsk, says Ukrainian military official

From Ukraine journalists and Bex Wright

Three civilians were killed and several others wounded in fierce fighting in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Sunday, an update from the regional military administration for Donetsk said on Monday. 

Russian forces shelled areas north of the city of Donetsk with small arms, tanks, artillery, mortars, and MLRS "Grad" rockets, the statement said. Some 24 buildings were also damaged, including 20 residential buildings, an electric substation and a shopping mall. 

On Monday morning, there was also shelling in areas to the southwest of Donetsk city.

Water and electricity supply have been partially restored to the region, but there is currently no gas supply, the statement added. 

In a separate update, the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, spoke on national television on Monday. 

"The situation is tense. The shelling along the front line does not stop," Kyrylenko said. "The hottest spots are Avdiivka, Toretsk, and Lyman direction. Active hostilities continue there. There is constant enemy shelling of Bakhmut, Soledar."

Kyrylenko said the key route from Bakhmut to Lysychansk is still under Ukrainian control, but the Russians are "constantly shelling the route." It is the main route for providing humanitarian goods and is important for evacuations, he added.

Some context: Donetsk is one of the separatist, pro-Russian regions to the east of Ukraine alongside Luhansk, where the Russian offensive has intensified in recent days.

On Thursday, Ukraine's armed forces acknowledged that Russian forces had made further advances in the Donetsk region, capturing a village about 10 miles southeast of the important town of Bakhmut.

6:28 a.m. ET, May 30, 2022

Eurovision winners sell trophy to buy drones for Ukraine’s military

From CNN’s Teele Rebane in Hong Kong and Irina Morgan in London

Kalush Orchestra pose onstage with the winner's trophy and Ukraine's flags after winning the Eurovision Song contest 2022 on May 14, in Turin.
Kalush Orchestra pose onstage with the winner's trophy and Ukraine's flags after winning the Eurovision Song contest 2022 on May 14, in Turin. (Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian winners of this year's Eurovision Song Contest have announced they've sold their trophy for $900,000, with funds going toward buying drones for their country’s military.

Kalush Orchestra was presented with the crystal microphone trophy earlier this month after winning this year’s contest, beating competition from main rivals the United Kingdom and Spain.

The winning bid for the trophy was attributed to WhiteBIT, a cryptocurrency exchange. WhiteBIT said that the purpose of the online auction was to raise one million euros ($1,077,000) to buy three PD-2 drones for the Ukrainian armed forces. 

"You are incredible," the folk-rap group wrote on Instagram.

"We are grateful to each of you who donated funds for this auction and especially grateful to the @whitebit_ua team who bought the trophy for $900,000."

The band will also tour Europe to raise funds for the needs of the army and charitable foundations of Ukraine, the band's frontman Oleg Psyuk said earlier this month.  

5:23 a.m. ET, May 30, 2022

Putin shows no signs of illness or ailment, says Russian foreign minister

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Sarah Diab

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has dismissed rumors concerning President Vladimir Putin's health.

"You know, President Putin appears in public every day. You can see him on TV screens, read his speeches, listen to his speeches," Lavrov told French broadcaster TF1.

"I do not think that any sane person can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment. I leave this on the conscience of those who spread such rumors despite daily opportunities to ensure who looks how in this world," Lavrov said.

Speculation on Putin's health has been circulating for a while, with the Kremlin often denying rumors of ailments.

The interview was uploaded by the Kremlin to its channel on RuTube, the Russian version of YouTube. 

7:56 a.m. ET, May 30, 2022

Car bomb detonates in Russian-occupied Melitopol in southern Ukraine, says Russian state media

From CNN's Teele Rebane, Taras Zadorozhnyy, Oleksandra Ochman, Konstantin Gak, Bex Wright and Uliana Pavlova

A car bomb detonated in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine on Monday, Russian state media has reported.

The car was parked in the center of the city near the House of Culture, where Russia’s officials in the city are now operating, according to a report by Russian state-run news channel RT.

The explosion shattered windows in nearby buildings, the report added.

Three people were injured in the blast, a source in the Kremlin-backed city administration told the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Exiled mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, said: "The explosion took place in the central part of the city, right next to the building belonging to the so-called head of the regional military administration."

Fedorov said there were "several versions" of what happened, and that law enforcement agencies will provide more details later.

He said that the area of the explosion is being investigated by the Russians.

CNN has reached out to Melitopol officials for more details.

Speaking to reporters in a daily call Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the explosions "outrageous."

"The fact of the strikes on civilian infrastructure, on children's institutions, is, of course, outrageous," Peskov said, adding that this is what they were fighting to prevent, to protect people from "neo-Nazis."

The Kremlin has been falsely claiming that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a special operation to rid the country of "neo-Nazis." Since the offensive started in February, Moscow still cites this as their reason, despite providing no evidence.

4:55 a.m. ET, May 30, 2022

French foreign minister to meet Zelensky in Ukraine

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris and CNN’s Sophie Jeong and Mayumi Maruyama in Hong Kong

French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna visits the site of a mass grave in Bucha, on Monday.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna visits the site of a mass grave in Bucha, on Monday. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in Ukraine on Monday for her first trip to the country, according to a tweet on her official account.

Colonna will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and her counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv to discuss France’s support for Ukraine in “all areas, and in particular the blockage of grain and oilseed exports from Ukraine,” the French Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

The ministry said Colonna’s visit is to demonstrate France’s solidarity with Ukrainian people and to strengthen its support for Ukraine, “both in humanitarian and financial terms and in terms of supplying defense equipment.”

Colonna will also visit the town of Bucha and donate civil security equipment, including fire trucks and ambulances, from France to the Ukrainian authorities, according to the ministry.

 

1:55 p.m. ET, May 30, 2022

Russians advancing into "middle of the city" in Severodonetsk, two people killed, Ukraine officials say

From CNN's Taras Zadorozhnyy, Bex Wright, Josh Pennington, Sophie Jeong, and Mayumi Maruyama

Russian forces are “advancing into the middle of the city” of Severodonetsk in northeast Ukraine, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration Serhiy Hayday said on Monday.

Two people were killed and five others wounded in attacks on Sunday, and 50 houses were destroyed, Hayday said.

The Russians have “consolidated their hold on the northeastern and southeastern outskirts of the city” and are “trying to encircle Severodonetsk and Lysychansk,” Hayday said. 

Currently the fighting is very fierce,” Hayday added. “The situation is still very difficult.”

There is no internet connection in the city, apart from limited access to Starlink, Hayday said. 

The neighboring city of Lysychansk remains under the control of Ukraine, Hayday added. The road to Bakhmut to the southwest of Lysychansk is “not blocked, but it is under fire” so it is “very dangerous to use it,” he said.

He added that humanitarian aid is arriving “almost every day,” and his men are trying to evacuate people when they can. 

Separately, the Luhansk Military Administration said in a Telegram post on Monday that "heavy battles for Severodonetsk and Lysychansk [are underway]."

"The Russians are transporting ammunition and equipment in large quantities to the Severodonetsk area," the military statement said.

Some context: On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told French broadcaster TFI that the "liberation" of Ukraine's Donbas region is an "absolute priority" for Moscow.

2:23 a.m. ET, May 30, 2022

"Hands down the cheapest price in all of Europe": Serbia announces three-year gas deal with Russia

From CNN's Teele Rebane in Hong Kong and Josh Pennington

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addresses the nation in Belgrade, Serbia on May 06.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addresses the nation in Belgrade, Serbia on May 06. (Milos Miskov/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced a three-year gas deal with Russia in an interview with Serbian TV channel Pink on Sunday, calling the deal “advantageous” for his country. 

Vucic said Serbia will sign another three-year deal with Russian state energy provider Gazprom after the current 10-year gas deal expires on Monday.

This is hands down the cheapest price in all of Europe. What we agreed to, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and I, is very advantageous for Serbia, and so we will sign another contract, the first part, which is a three-year contract," Vucic said. 

On Sunday, Putin and Vucic discussed natural gas supplies to the Balkan country, according to RIA Novosti, the Russian state-owned news agency, which quoted the Kremlin as saying that Russia had agreed to “continue to supply uninterrupted natural gas to Serbia.”

Serbia is not a member of the European Union or NATO.

It is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas, while its army maintains ties with Russia's military.

Although the country backed two United Nations resolutions condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it refused to impose sanctions against Moscow.