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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 11


For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

Recap May 11
FIGHTING
* The Azov Regiment of Ukraine’s National Guard says Russian troops continued to pound the Azovstal steelworks, the last pocket of resistance of Ukrainian forces in the port city of Mariupol
* The U.K. defense ministry said Ukraine has successfully struck Russian air defenses and resupply vessels with Bayraktar drones.
* A remote island off Ukraine occupied by Russia on the first day of its invasion has, as Kyiv steps up efforts to retake it, become the focal point of what some defense officials believe may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast.
HUMANITARIAN
* Russia will be held accountable for war crimes and violations of international law allegedly committed by its forces in Ukraine, a European Union official vowed
* The wives of two of the last remaining Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol's steelworks asked Pope Francis to help get soldiers to a third country because "Russian captivity is not an option."
ECONOMY
* Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter after Kyiv halted use of a major transit route blaming interference by occupying Russian forces, the first time exports via Ukraine have been disrupted since the invasion.
* Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt says that the U.N. Security Council should adopt a resolution protecting grain shipments from the Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
DIPLOMACY
* Across Europe's capitals, Russian diplomats are getting the cold shoulder, ranging from diplomatic expulsions by governments, to protests by individual citizens, and service denials by companies.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Swedish counterpart said that relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin can never be normalized following the invasion of Ukraine.
* The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill authorizing nearly $40 billion in new military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
SANCTIONS
* Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press show that a Russian ship believed to be carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has docked in Syria.
MEDIA
* A Russia-backed separatist group in eastern Ukraine that calls itself the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) says it has blocked access to Facebook and Instagram in the districts it has been controlling since 2014.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

8:16 p.m.: Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, said Russian forces have blocked all evacuation routes out of the city, The Associated Press reported. He said there were few apartment buildings fit to live in after the weeks of bombardment and very little food or drinking water, the AP reported. Andriushchenko added that some residents who have remained in the city are cooperating with the Russian occupying forces in exchange for food.

7:23 p.m.: Ukraine National Guard chief Oleksiy Nadtochy said more than 560 soldiers from the guard forces, including the Azov regiment currently holed up in Mariupol's steelworks, have been killed since the war with Russia began, according to Agence France-Presse. Besides the 561 dead, an additional 1,697 troops had been wounded since the invasion began on February 24, Nadtochy said in an online briefing, according to AFP. Up until Wednesday, both Ukraine and Russian officials had been tight-lipped about war losses, AFP reported.

6:18 p.m.: Ukraine's top prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, disclosed plans the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier, The Associated Press reported. Her office charged Sergeant Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, in the killing of an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was gunned down while riding a bicycle in February, four days into the war, AP reported. Shyshimarin, who served with a tank unit, was accused of firing through a car window on the man in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. Venediktova said the soldier could get up to 15 years in prison. She did not say when the trial would start, according to AP.

5:15 p.m.: Pro-Russia hackers targeted the websites of several Italian institutions including the defense ministry and the senate, Agence France-Presse reported. The defense ministry's website was "under maintenance" and the senate's was inaccessible before both were back up and running hours after the attack, AFP reported. Italian daily Corriere della Sera said the pro-Kremlin group "Killnet" claimed the cyberattack, which had reportedly not compromised infrastructure but hindered access to several websites including the National Institute of Health, according to the report.

4:45 p.m.: Vyacheslav Yalov's mother, Maryna, 37, was killed in the Donbas by Russian shelling as they walked home together. He has now been evacuated to western Ukraine with his two younger brothers and two younger sisters, whom he plans to bring up alone.

3:47 p.m.: Hospitals all around Southern California are sending tons of medical supplies to Ukraine. The L.A. charity foundation, Stand with Ukraine, has united hospitals around the state to aid the war-torn country. VOA’s Khrystyna Shevchenko has the story.

3:05 p.m.: On the streets of the Serbian capital, supporters and opponents of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are making their opinions known with spray paint. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this photo essay on the “Graffiti War” in Belgrade.

2:30 p.m.: The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank located in Washington D.C., on Wednesday posted a transcript of a discussion with three of its leading experts on the state of the war in Ukraine.

2:17 p.m.: Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin should look in the mirror if Finland decides to join NATO to increase its own security, Reuters reported. The Finnish leader was expected on Friday to confirm that Helsinki will apply for membership of the U.S.-led Western military alliance in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Niinisto made his remark when asked by reporters as he met Britain's prime minister in Helsinki to sign a mutual defense cooperation pact whether Finland feared Russian aggression.

2:00 p.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber Subcommittee was scheduled to hold an online hearing on "Accountability and Justice for War Crimes Committed in Ukraine by the Russian Federation" starting at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Michael Carpenter, U.S. permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, was scheduled to testify.

1:28 p.m.: Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt says that the U.N. Security Council should adopt a resolution protecting grain shipments from the Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, The Associated Press reported. Bildt was speaking to Poland’s TVN24 during the Impact ’22 congress about energy and technology prospects, in Poznan, western Poland. “Will Russia dare to stop shipments of grain” under U.N. protection? Bildt asked, stressing the escort initiative is worth discussing. Separately, the European Union is to announce a plan this week to help Ukraine get around Russia’s blockade of its ports by shipping food supplies by rail and truck.

1:07 p.m. Separatists in Donetsk on Wednesday celebrated the eighth anniversary of self-proclaimed independence from Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. Constitution square in the city center was renamed after a Russian officer who was among the first Russian servicemen killed in the special military operation. “The Day of Donetsk People’s Republic” was celebrated without the usual mass events this year due to security reasons.

12:54 p.m.:

12:39 p.m.: Ukraine’s victory in the war unleashed against it by Russia will open a "new window of opportunities for the Belarusians," such as protests or strikes, said Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. In an interview Wednesday with Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, she also pointed out that Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime is currently circumventing international sanctions - first imposed for the crackdown on dissent and then for Belarus's role in Russia's invasion - through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which needs to be addressed for the sanctions to be efficient.

12:21 p.m.: The United States does not believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to militarily take on the NATO alliance, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday, as Moscow struggles to achieve its goals in Ukraine three months into its invasion. "As you look at Putin's calculus, my view - and I'm sure the chairman has his own view - but my view is that Russia doesn't want to take on the NATO alliance," Austin said during a congressional hearing, according to Reuters.

12:13 p.m.: Czech President Milos Zeman has approved a request of 103 Czechs to join Ukraine’s armed forces to help them fight Russian aggression, The Associated Press reported. Czech citizens are banned from service in foreign armies which is a crime punishable by a prison term of up to five years. Those 103 belong to a total of some 400 Czechs who have applied for an exemption from the ban, according to the Defense Ministry. The authorities still have to process most of the requests. It’s not clear how many Czechs have already been fighting on the Ukrainian side against invading Russian troops.

12:04 p.m.:

11:48 a.m.: The Russian-occupied region of Kherson in Ukraine plans to ask President Vladimir Putin to incorporate it into Russia by the end of the year, Russia's TASS news agency reported on Wednesday, quoting the military-civilian administration there. Kherson is the first region set to be annexed since Moscow began its military campaign. The Kremlin said it was up to residents living in the region to decide whether they wanted to join Russia. But Hennadiy Lahuta, the ousted Ukrainian governor of the Kherson region, told reporters in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro that the population wanted only "a speedy liberation and return to the bosom of their homeland, their mother – Ukraine," Reuters reported.

11:33 a.m.:

11:24 a.m.: A remote island off Ukraine occupied by Russia on the first day of its invasion has, as Kyiv steps up efforts to retake it, become the focal point of what some defense officials believe may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast. Both countries have reported renewed fighting around Snake Island. The fightback by Ukraine for the island, located near its sea border with Romania and covering just 0.06 square miles, could decide if Russia is able to establish a defensive base there and thereby exercise dominance over the north-western Black Sea, Reuters reported.

11:16 a.m.:

11:08 a.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Swedish counterpart said that relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin can never be normalized following the invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. Johnson met Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to discuss topics including security in Europe. "The leaders agreed that the aftershocks of Putin's abhorrent invasion of Ukraine had fundamentally changed international security architecture," a spokesperson for Johnson said after the meeting. "They underlined that relations with Putin could never be normalized."

11:01 a.m.:

10:47 a.m.: The hospital in the small Ukrainian town of Bakhmut was never intended to receive queues of ambulances bringing the wounded and traumatized from the front line of Europe's biggest battlefield. Nor did the volunteer paramedics expect, four months ago, to be shuttling back and forth to the front line of a brutal tank battle, within earshot of rockets and shelling. Reuters photographer Jorge Silva visited the Ukrainian hospital where medics work as rockets fall. Here is his photo essay.

10:25 a.m.:
A Russia-backed separatist group in eastern Ukraine that calls itself the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) says it has blocked access to Facebook and Instagram in the districts it has been controlling since 2014, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. In a statement on Wednesday, the separatists' de facto Communications Ministry said the move was made "to protect DNR residents from banned information that imposes a threat to their lives." Meta Platforms has yet to comment on the announcement, which comes as Russia continues to restrict online information about its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

10:21 a.m.:

10:14 a.m.: Ukrainian officials issued dire warnings on Wednesday about the fate of civilians and the last fighters in Mariupol after weeks of Russian bombardment, Reuters reported. Human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova appealed to the United Nations and Red Cross to help evacuate wounded fighters holed up in the southern city’s vast steel works, saying the destruction of a makeshift hospital there meant many were dying. Russia, which denies targeting civilians, did not immediately comment on Denisova’s statement. “Azovstal is on fire again after the bombing. If there is hell on earth, it is there,” Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to Mayor Vadym Boichenko, wrote on Telegram.

10:03 a.m.:

9:49 a.m.: Ukrainian forces reported battlefield gains on Wednesday in a counterattack that could signal a shift in the momentum of the war,Reuters reported. Following days of advances north and east of the second largest city Kharkiv, Ukrainian forces were within just several kilometers of the Russian border on Wednesday morning. The gains appear to be the fastest that Ukraine has achieved since it drove Russian troops away from Kyiv and out of the country's north at the beginning of April. If sustained, it could let Ukrainian forces threaten supply lines for Russia's main attack force. Further east, Ukrainian forces seemed to be in control of the village of Rubizhne, on the banks of the Donets.

9:26 a.m.:

9:22 a.m.: Russian diplomat Sergiy Andreev was feeling unwelcome on the streets of Warsaw even before protesters doused him with red liquid thrown in his face at short range this week. Across Europe's capitals, Russian diplomats are getting the cold shoulder, ranging from diplomatic expulsions by governments, to protests by individual citizens, and service denials by companies, Reuters reported.

9:20 a.m.:

9:16 a.m.: Russia will be held accountable for war crimes and violations of international law allegedly committed by its forces in Ukraine, a European Union official vowed, amid mounting Ukrainian and international efforts to gather evidence for future criminal investigations. In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty at its headquarters in Prague, Eamon Gilmore, the EU special representative for human rights, also suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin might be put on trial one day, not unlike what happened with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic after the bloody and violent breakup of Yugoslavia. Correspondent Mike Eckel has this story.

8:41 a.m.:

8:32 a.m.: Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press show that a Russian ship believed to be carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has docked in Syria. The photo taken Tuesday by Planet Labs PBC showed the Russian-flagged Matros Pozynich at dockside in Latakia, Syria. Ukraine has alleged that the ship had 27,000 tons of grains Russia stole from the country. It alleged Russia initially tried to ship the grains to Egypt, which refused to take the cargo. The ship’s registered owners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

8:27 a.m.:

8:18 a.m.: Ukrainian refugees who reluctantly find themselves under Moscow’s rule are receiving help from an unlikely quarter: networks of Russian volunteers helping those displaced by the war to leave Russia. For uprooted Ukrainians, the volunteers provide advice on travel routes as well as help with money, transport and accommodation along the way. It represents one of the ways that ordinary Russians who are upset by the devastation caused by the war can express how they feel at a time when domestic laws effectively restrict the ability of people in Russia to openly criticize the military, several individuals interviewed by Reuters said.

8:13 a.m.:
Maksym Shevchenko helped people evacuate from the suburbs of Kyiv, driving them to safer areas in March and April. He recorded the horrors inflicted on friends and neighbors with his phone and shared his stories of shellings and shootings with Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.

8:02 a.m.: The wives of two of the last remaining Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol's steelworks asked Pope Francis on Wednesday to help get soldiers to a third country because "Russian captivity is not an option," Reuters reported. The women said they last spoke to their husbands, members of the Azov Regiment, on Tuesday. They said they told the pope about injured soldiers, rotting flesh, unburied bodies and lack of food, water and medicine at the steelworks. The pope said he would do everything possible and would pray for them.

7:59 a.m.:

7:52 a.m.: Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter on Wednesday after Kyiv halted use of a major transit route blaming interference by occupying Russian forces, the first time exports via Ukraine have been disrupted since the invasion, Reuters reported. Ukraine has remained a major transit route for Russian gas to Europe even after Moscow launched what it calls a "special military operation" on February 24. The transit point Ukraine shut usually handles about 8% of Russian gas flows to Europe, although European states said they were still receiving supplies. The Ukraine corridor mostly sends gas to Austria, Italy, Slovakia and other east European states. Wednesday's disruption drove Europe's benchmark gas price for the third quarter up to 100 euros per megawatt hour at the market open before slipping back. The price is more than 250% above its level a year ago.

7:49 a.m.:

7:27 a.m.: Russian forces are trying to stop Ukrainian troops moving further towards the border in the Kharkiv region and trying to fully capture the town of Rubizhne, Ukraine's general staff said. Ukrainian troops recaptured four settlements north of Kharkiv in recent days, a spokesperson for the main Ukrainian force there said, according to Reuters.

7:18 a.m.: The Azov Regiment of Ukraine’s National Guard says Russian troops on Wednesday continued to pound the Azovstal steelworks, the last pocket of resistance of Ukrainian forces in the port city of Mariupol, The Associated Press reported. In a social media statement, Azov, which is holed up at the sprawling steel plant with other units of Ukraine’s military and law enforcement, said that over the past 24 hours the Russians carried out 38 airstrikes “on the territory” of Azovstal, including with the use of strategic bombers. The Russian troops were also using barrel artillery, tanks and other weapons, the statement said.

7:12 a.m.: On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed a statement by the European Union and its partners condemning Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine.

7:05 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Wednesday it was up to residents living in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine to decide whether they wanted to join Russia, but any such decision must have a clear legal basis, Reuters reported. Earlier, TASS news agency quoted an official in the Russian-controlled administration in Kherson as saying it planned to ask President Vladimir Putin to incorporate Kherson into Russia.

7:00 a.m.: The International Labor Organization, or ILO, said Wednesday that about 5 million jobs have been lost in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February.

6:25 a.m.: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that while it is clear there are “no immediate chances of a peace agreement,” the United Nations “will never give up” and “must always be ready to do everything we can to end this senseless war.”

Guterres told reporters in Vienna that the U.N. is doing what it can to save lives and facilitate evacuations and humanitarian aid.

5:30 a.m.: One of the leaders of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, whose members have been critical of President Vladimir Putin, has escaped Russia, according to The New York Times.

Maria Alyokhina, who has spent time in prison for her activism, disguised herself as a food courier to get away, The Times reported.

4:55 a.m.: The head of Ukraine’s state gas company said on Wednesday he could not confirm an assertion by Russia’s Gazprom that it is not technically possible to switch gas transfers to Ukraine to a new entry point, Reuters reported.

“We cannot confirm Gazprom’s claims that it is technically impossible to transfer transit from Sokhranivka to Sudzha IP,” Naftogaz head Yuri Vitrenko wrote on Twitter.

4:10 a.m.: Reuters reported that the European Union’s proposal on oil sanctions against Russia would destroy the Hungarian economy and does not offer a solution to the huge problems it would create for Hungary, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.

Szijjarto said in a video on his Facebook page that after talks conducted so far, the European Commission does not have a solution, so the only way to an agreement on an oil embargo would be if it applied to maritime oil shipments, and all shipments of Russian oil via pipelines would be fully exempted, Reuters added.

3:30 a.m.: Since Russia invaded Ukraine, more than 100 women have given birth in the basement delivery room of a maternity hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, The Associated Press reports. About 200 pregnant women displaced by Russia's invasion have come to the hospital since the war began. They come from some of the communities the world now knows by name: Mariupol, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Kyiv. The AP has the story.

2:30 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the U.S. House of Representatives for approving more than $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

1:30 a.m.: Reuters reported that nominations for Russian gas transit via Ukraine at the Sokhranovka entry point for May 11 declined to zero, data from Ukraine's gas pipeline operator showed on Wednesday, following Kyiv's warning of shutting down supplies through the route.

Ukraine said on Tuesday it would suspend the flow of gas through the transit point that it said delivers almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe through Ukraine, blaming Moscow for the move and saying it would move the flows elsewhere.

The data also showed that requests for Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine at the Sudzha entry point stood at almost 72 million cubic meters for Wednesday.

1:00 a.m.: An overnight strike destroyed a large shopping mall in the strategic port city of Odesa, Ukraine. For VOA, Yan Boechat visited the site of a Russian missile attack in Odesa.

12:40 a.m.: In its daily battleground intelligence report, the U.K. defense mnistry said Wednesday that Ukraine has successfully struck Russian air defenses and resupply vessels with Bayraktar drones.

12:10 a.m.: The war in Ukraine has taken a toll on civilians as families are separated. In this video released on Facebook, a Ukrainian mother was reunited with her police officer son after 74 days apart.

The video was posted by police in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 9, 2022, Reuters reported.

12:01 a.m.: The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill authorizing nearly $40 billion in new military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, $7 billion more than President Joe Biden asked for last week. The measure must still be approved by the Senate.

Biden has said his administration has “nearly exhausted” his existing authority to send weapons and other military equipment from Pentagon stockpiles. VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara filed this report.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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