Ukraine Daily Summary - Wednesday, May 22 2024

Around 100 civilians remain in Vovchansk, Russians have threatened to shoot them -- 12 never-before-seen photos from Azovstal defense -- Situation in Donetsk Oblast difficult but there is military success in Kharkiv Oblast -- Russia begins exercises simulating use of tactical nuclear weapons -- and more

Wednesday, May 22

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Firefighters rest after extinguishing a fire in a private house destroyed by a Russian drone attack in the suburbs of Kharkiv, on May 21, 2024. (Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)

Zelensky on legitimacy dispute: My term is not over yet. If martial law had not been imposed, the next presidential election would have been held on March 31, 2024, and Zelensky’s term would have ended on May 20.

Military: Ukrainian forces stabilize situation in Kharkiv Oblast, including Vovchansk. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry confirmed on May 15 that Russian units had entered the northern parts of Vovchansk. The Ukrainian military said at the time it had prevented Russia from establishing a foothold deeper in the town.

Zelensky: Situation in Donetsk Oblast difficult but there is military success in Kharkiv Oblast. The situation on the front line in the direction of Pokrovsk, Kramatorsk, and Kurakhove in Donetsk Oblast remains extremely difficult, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his May 21 evening address. He added, however, that Ukrainian forces are successfully destroying Russian troops in Kharkiv Oblast.

Governor: Around 100 civilians remain in Vovchansk, Russians have threatened to shoot them. Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on May 20 that more than 10,500 civilians had been evacuated from Kharkiv Oblast amid the renewed Russian onslaught.

10 Ukrainian soldiers complete F-16 maintenance training in Netherlands. Ten Ukrainian soldiers completed training for the F-16 aircraft maintenance in the Netherlands, the Dutch Defense Ministry announced on May 21.

Defense Ministry: 700,000 draft-aged men update military documents after launch of online app. According to the newly implemented law, all military-aged men, with some exceptions, must update their military documents within 60 days from May 18 at public service centers and enlistment offices, or via the online application Rezerv+.

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Justice Ministry: Over 3,000 Ukrainian convicts have applied to join military.

More than 3,000 convicts have applied for conditional release to join Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska said on national television on May 21.

General Staff confirms Russian missile ship Tsiklon struck in occupied Crimea. The ship was reportedly hit during an attack that the Ukrainian Navy said destroyed the Russian minesweeper Kovrovets.

Russian court jails yet another hypersonic missile expert on treason charges. The case is the latest in a string of investigations against scientists involved in Russia’s hypersonic missile program, responsible for developing such weapons as the Kinzhal and Zircon.

Russia begins exercises simulating use of tactical nuclear weapons. The first stage of the drills will begin with the “combat use” of Iskander and Kinzhal ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, equipping their launch, and “covertly advancing to the designated position in preparation for missile launches.”

Tucker Carlson’s team denies launching show on Russian TV. The Russian state television network Rossiya 24 posted episodes of a purported new show with U.S. far-right political commentator and conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson on May 21, but Carlson’s team said he had nothing to do with it.

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Ukraine war latest: Russian missile ship Tsiklon struck in occupied Crimea

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces confirmed on May 21 that the Russian missile ship Tsiklon was struck in a Ukrainian attack in Sevastopol, occupied Crimea, on May 19.

Photo: Andrey Brichevsky/Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

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12 never-before-seen photos from Azovstal defense

The defense of the Azovstal steel plant, Ukraine’s last stronghold during the Russian siege of Mariupol in the spring of 2022, remains one of the most heroic operations carried out by the Ukrainian soldiers to date.

Photo: Personal archive / Dmytro Kozatskyi

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Human cost of war

Russian attacks on Sumy Oblast damage energy infrastructure, injure 1 person. Russian forces attacked 11 communities in Sumy Oblast, injuring one person, and causing damage to energy infrastructure, the Sumy Oblast Military Administration reported.

Russian drone attack on Kherson Oblast injures 3 elderly women. A Russian drone dropped explosives on the village of Antonivka in Kherson Oblast on May 21, injuring women aged 69, 75, and 76, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.

Russian attack on Kherson injures 3, including 15-year-old boy. Russian troops launched the attack around 4 p.m. local time, targeting the Shumenskyi district and damaging a high-rise building.

Man injured in Russian May 17 attack on Kharkiv Oblast dies in hospital. A 53-year-old man injured in the Russian strike on the village of Lyptsi in Kharkiv Oblast on May 17 died in hospital, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on May 21.

Opinions and insights

Opinion: Putin’s China visit was another battle in Russia’s war of economic endurance

“China is not providing direct military support and only giving limited equipment and munitions – hence Russia’s reliance on Iran and North Korea. Why isn’t China going all in?” writes Timothy Ash, associate fellow at Chatham House.

Photo: Sergei Bobylyov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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International response

European Commission says Ukraine will receive first payment of revenue from frozen Russian assets in July. The European Commission said that the “resources will be available to support Ukraine starting from July 2024, with bi-annual payments.”

German foreign minister, European Commission voice support for Zelensky’s legitimacy. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term expired on May 20, but elections have been suspended due to martial law, so he will stay on as president

Belgium says it is ‘committed’ to starting Ukraine’s EU accession negotiations in June. Belgian Foreign Minister Hayda Lahbib’s comments followed reporting by Politico earlier on May 21 that officials from the EU and Ukraine are pushing to begin accession negotiations by June 25.

US lawmakers urge Pentagon to permit Ukraine’s use of US-supplied weapons to strike targets in Russia. Ukraine recently said that Washington’s ban meant Ukraine was unable to attack Russian forces as they were building up before crossing the border into Kharkiv Oblast in the renewed Russian offensive that began earlier in May.

Canada imposes sanctions on Russian firms accused of shipping North Korean weapons to Ukraine. Canada has once again sanctioned Russian individuals and companies aiding Russia’s war against Ukraine. The sanctions target two individuals and six shipping firms that Ottawa claims have “facilitated the illegal transportation of weapons, including ballistic missiles, from North Korea to Russia.”

Russia unilaterally decides to change maritime border with Lithuania, Finland in Baltic Sea. Lithuania and Finland have not yet reacted to Russia’s decision toward the maritime border, nor has Russia’s unilateral decision been recognized internationally.

Zelensky’s term would have ended by now. Is he still legitimate?

In other news

Ukrainian public broadcaster launches broadcasting separate from state-sponsored telethon. The telethon was seen as a legitimate response to Russia’s aggression but later it was accused of monopolizing television coverage and stifling dissent. Some opposition television channels have complained that they were excluded from the telethon due to their political stance.

Media: 15-year-old Ukrainian boy stabbed in Germany. The injured boy walked a kilometer before losing consciousness and was hospitalized soon after, Bild wrote. He was no longer in life-threatening condition as of May 20, the local police said.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Martin Fornusek, Kateryna Denisova, Nate Ostiller, Chris York, Oleg Sukhov, Kateryna Hodunova, Olena Goncharova, and Dmytro Basmat.

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