Russia-Ukraine live news: Donbas fully destroyed, says Zelenskyy | Russia-Ukraine war News

 Russia-Ukraine live news: Donbas fully destroyed, says Zelenskyy | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says country’s eastern Donbas region has been “completely destroyed” by Russian forces.
  • US President Joe Biden applauds Congress for approving a $40bn aid package for Ukraine.
  • The Biden administration announces an additional $100m in security assistance to Kyiv, including artillery, radars and other equipment.
  • Ex-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declares the West should not expect Russia to continue food supplies if it slaps Moscow with devastating sanctions.
INTERACTIVE - Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Donbas region Day 85
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Kherson will become region of Russia, self-proclaimed governor says

The Russian-appointed head of the Kherson region has said it will “soon become part” of the Russian Federation.

“We are looking at the Russian Federation as our own country because it is under the control of the [Russian] Armed Forces and later will be transformed into a federal subject,” Volodymyr Saldo, who was installed by Russian forces as the region’s “governor”, said on Telegram.

“We will become the Kherson region of the Russian Federation,” he added.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month that whether or not Russia annexes the region depends on “the will” of local people.

Over 4m medicine doses head from UK to Ukraine

A fourth tranche of aid left the UK for Ukraine over the last week carrying medicines such as painkillers and antibiotics as well as personal protective equipment and respirators.

According to a government statement the tranche contains “4.2 million doses of medicines – including painkillers and antibiotics that are critical for treating infections caused by battlefield trauma and limited hygiene facilities – and 1.5 million items of other supplies.

“As one of the largest humanitarian donors, Britain will continue to help care for those bravely resisting Putin’s vile aggression until Ukraine succeeds,” the statement quotes Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as saying.

A man pets a dog in the city subway of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, on Thursday, May 19, 2022.
A man pets a dog in the city subway of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, on Thursday, May 19, 2022 [Bernat Armangue/AP]

Ukraine war and global financial situation ‘challenging’ for Asia: IMF

The International Monetary Fund’s deputy managing director has said the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and tighter global financial conditions would make this year “challenging” for Asia.

Kenji Okamura said the war was affecting Asia through higher commodity prices and slower growth in Europe.

He said Asian economies faced a choice between supporting growth with more stimulus policies or withdrawing it to stabilise debt and inflation.

Russia will fight Western attempts to steal its foreign assets: Kremlin spokesman

Russia will fight attempts to steal its assets abroad, the Kremlin’s spokesman has said.

“This could be a continuation of the very line that has become popular recently in a number of countries – stealing other people’s assets. We take this negatively, we will fight it, we will defend our assets,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday the EU was looking into ways of using the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs to fund the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that the US did not have legal authority to do so.

Jinping calls on BRICS countries to help stabilise international relations

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – should help to stabilise international relations at a time of turbulence, Russia’s TASS news agency reports.

“BRICS countries need to  … take real action to promote peace and development, uphold fairness and justice, and advocate democracy and freedom, so as to inject stability and positive energy into international relations in a period of turbulence and transformation,” Jinping was quoted as saying by China’s Foreign Ministry at a session of BRICS foreign ministers on Thursday, according to TASS

Xi also warned against attempts of seeking one’s own security at the expense of others’, saying this will only create new tensions and risks as both history and reality have proved, China’s English-language channel CGTN reports.

Ukraine to make university admission easier for students in occupied territories

Zelenskyy says he has instructed his education minister to introduce a “simplified mechanism” for young people living in temporarily occupied territories to gain admission to Ukraine’s universities, and not to have to pay contract fees.

The government had already introduced such a mechanism in 2020 for students from the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as Crimea.

Now Zelenskyy has said it should extend to other temporarily occupied regions such as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

The president called on Ukrainian students to continue their studies, despite hostilities, “because Ukraine needs smart, educated, professional people,” a statement from his office said.

US plans to destroys Russia’s Black Sea Fleet: Official

A Ukrainian government advisor has said that the US is planning to destroy Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

In a post on Twitter, Anton Herashchenko said that the “effective” way Ukrainians handled Russian warships “convinced the US to prepare a plan to unblock the ports.”

“Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons (Harpoon and Naval Strike Missile with a range of 250-300 km) are being discussed,” Herashenko added.

Al Jazeera was not able to independently verify Herashchenko’s claims. Reuters had earlier reported that according to officials, the White House was working to put advanced anti-ship missiles in the hands of Ukrainian fighters to help defeat Russia’s naval blockade.

Azov commander says mission still ‘underway’ at Azovstal plant

The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, which led the defence of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, has said that he and other fighters are still inside plant.

“An operation is underway, the details of which I will not announce,” Svyatoslav Palamar said in a brief video message.

It is unclear how many Ukrainian fighters remain in the warren of bunkers and tunnels in the sprawling plant. Russia says more than 1,700 have now surrendered.

Videos show Russian soldiers executing Ukrainian men in Bucha: NYT

An investigation by the New York Times, including previously unreleased videos, confirms eyewitness accounts that Russian forces in Bucha took captive and executed several men.

In one of the videos, some of the Ukrainian captives are hunched over, holding the belts of those in front of them. Others have their hands over their heads. “Walk to the right, bitch,” one of the soldiers orders them. The men are then forced to the ground, with one wearing a bright blue shirt.

Eyewitnesses then report soldiers took the men behind a nearby office building that the Russians had taken over and turned into a makeshift base. There were gunshots. The captives didn’t return.

A drone video taken later that day shows the dead bodies lying on the ground by the side of the office building at 144 Yablunska Street as two Russian soldiers stood guard beside them. A flash of bright blue is visible among the dead bodies.

Who are the US senators who voted against Ukraine aid bill?

Eleven out of 100 United States Senators voted against the $40bn aid package to Ukraine. All the “no” votes came from Republican senators.

The senators are: Rand Paul, Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, John Boozman, Mike Braun, Mike Crapo, Bill Hagerty, Mike Lee, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall and Tommy Tuberville.

Russian rock singer faces charges for anti-war remarks

A veteran Russian rock musician is facing charges over anti-war remarks made at a concert.

Yuri Shevchuk, singer for the band DDT, could face a fine of up to 50,000 roubles ($800).

After the war began, Russia passed a more severe law making the spread of so-called “fake news” about the conflict punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Old people, women and children are dying,” Shevchuk said during a concert. “The motherland, my friends, is not the ass of a president that you have to lick and kiss all the time. The motherland is a poor grandmother selling potatoes at the train station.”

Dozens of countries ‘knocking on famine’s door’: UN food chief

The UN food chief has warned that the war in Ukraine has created “an unprecedented crisis” of escalating food prices that has sparked protests.

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said growing hunger will add at least 47 million people to the 276 million “marching to starvation” before Russia’s invasion of its smaller neighbour.

Beasley told a UN Security Council meeting that 49 million people in 43 countries are already “knocking on famine’s door”.

Donbas region has been completely destroyed: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russian forces had “completely destroyed” the eastern Donbas region and accused Moscow of carrying out senseless bombardments as it intensified its offensive.

“In the Donbas, the occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It is hell there – and that is not an exaggeration,” he said in a late-night video address.

“This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible, to destroy as many houses, social facilities and enterprises as possible.”

A Russian soldier walks past a destroyed part of the steel mill in Mariupol, Ukraine.
A Russian soldier patrols a destroyed part of the steel mill in Mariupol in the Donbas region, May 18 [AP Photo]

Alexey Navalny’s team urges more US sanctions

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s team has urged a new round of US sanctions over the war in Ukraine that moves beyond wealthy oligarchs to spread the financial pain to Russian government officials, mid-level politicians and public figures.

The group, which visited Capitol Hill, is discussing with senators a list of 6,000 people for possible sanctions, including Russian defence and security officials, administrative employees, governors, members of parliament, and even editors and managers at state-aligned media operations.

Vladimir Ashurkov, the executive director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the “avalanche of sanctions” so far from the West is having an effect in Russia.

“Let’s bring on, or at least announce, the next wave,” Ashurkov said.

Russia’s former president denounces ‘insane’ sanctions

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the West should not expect Russia to continue food supplies if it slaps Moscow with devastating sanctions over the war.

“Our country is ready to fulfil its obligations in full. But it also expects assistance from trading partners, including on international platforms,” Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on messaging app Telegram.

“Otherwise, there’s no logic: on the one hand, insane sanctions are being imposed against us, on the other hand, they are demanding food supplies. Things don’t work like that, we’re not idiots,” he said.

His comments come as world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have raised serious concerns over global food supplies, warning that curbs on grain exports from Ukraine ports could lead to shortages and even famine.

Washington announces additional $100m in military assistance to Kyiv

The Biden administration has announced an additional $100m in weapons and other military equipment for Ukraine.

Biden said in a statement that the aid includes additional artillery, radars, and other equipment.

“This brings total US military assistance to Ukraine to approximately $3.9 billion in arms and equipment since Russia launched its brutal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said.

NATO membership for Sweden, Finland will ‘strengthen collective security’: Biden

NATO’s collective security will be strengthened by the membership of Sweden and Finland, Biden has said, after meeting with the leaders of the two Nordic nations at the White House.

In a statement after the discussions, the White House said the US president “warmly welcomed [Sweden and Finland’s] applications for NATO membership, which will strengthen our collective security”.

“At this historic moment for both Finland and Sweden, the President underscored his commitment to support both countries as they seek formal NATO accession, including by working with NATO Allies and Congress to welcome them into the Alliance as quickly as possible,” the statement read.

Biden says US aid package will help Ukraine ‘defend their democracy’

US President Joe Biden has applauded Congress for passing a nearly $40bn military and humanitarian assistance package for Kyiv, saying it sends “a clear bipartisan message to the world that the US stands with Ukraine”.

The bill, previously passed by the House of Representatives, passed in the Senate by an overwhelming 86-to-11 vote.

“This package will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom.”

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Thursday, May 19 here.

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