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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 14


A man sweeps rubble next to a shopping and entertainment mall destroyed after a Russian missiles strike on May 9, in Odesa, Ukraine, May 13, 2022.

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

Recap of May 14
* Ukrainian troops have begun a counteroffensive in northeast Ukraine.
* Russia dismisses Ukraine’s claim that it damaged a Russia navy ship in the Black Sea.
* Russian diplomats in the U.S. say they are being threatened and that U.S. intelligence services keep trying to contact them.
* Ukrainian troops fought off Russia soldiers trying to cross a river at Severodonetsk.
* The war could reach a breaking point in August, according to Kyiv’s head of military intelligence.
* Turkey proposes a sea evacuation of the wounded fighters at Azovstal steelworks.
* The Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra pleads for the people trapped in Azovstal to be freed.
* The conditions at the Azovstal steelworks are described as “simply terrible” according to reports by The Kyiv Independent.
* Negotiations are under way to evacuation the wounded Ukrainian soldiers from Azovstal in exchange for Russian prisoners of war.
* The war in Ukraine is fueling a worldwide food and energy crisis, the Group of Seven nations say.
* India has banned the export of wheat.
* US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Berlin for a NATO meeting.
* Turkey says it is ready to discuss NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.
* U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell led a delegation of GOP senators to Kyiv Saturday.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that joining NATO would be a mistake.
* Russia, as promised, cut off electricity to Finland after the country said it would move to become a member of NATO.
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is asking the U.S. to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
* Portugal stopped the sale of a 10 million euro home because it suspects its owned by a Russian oligarch.
* The Russian-imposed leaders of the Kherson Region say they will ask Russia to include the region in the Russian Federation.
* Ukraine’s Kaluch Orchestra wins Eurovision’s Song Contest.

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

9:10 p.m.: As Russian forces pull back from Kharkiv, Ukrainian soldiers take up the grim task of collecting the bodies of Russia’s dead. The bodies of at least 41 Russian soldiers were recovered Saturday and put into refrigerated rail cars for possible return to Russia. Forensic experts determined their identity and recorded their cause of death.

8:22 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Kalush Orchestra for its performance at Eurovision 2022 and all who voted for Ukraine, according to The Kyiv Independent.

7:50 p.m.: Portugal blocked the sale of a $10.4 million luxury house it believes belongs to sanctions-hit Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Foreign Minister Joao Cravinho said on Saturday.

According to Publico, which first reported the story, the former Chelsea soccer club owner tried to sell the property 15 days before Russia's invasion of Ukraine started through the Delaware-based Millhouse Views LLC, owned by Millhouse LLC, which manages his assets.

But a spokesperson for Abramovich told Reuters he did not own "any property in Portugal" and "Millhouse Views LLC is not connected" to him.

7:15 p.m.:

6:58 p.m.: Turkey has proposed a sea evacuation of wounded fighters from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Saturday.

Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an interview that he had discussed the proposal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv two weeks ago and that it remains "on the table" although Moscow has not agreed to it.

Under the plan, people evacuated Azovstal would be taken by land to the port of Berdyansk, which like Mariupol is on the Sea of Azov, and a Turkish vessel would take them across the Black Sea to Istanbul, he said.

6:05 p.m.: On Saturday, Russia dismissed Ukraine's claim it had damaged a navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, Reuters reported.

Military authorities in the southern Odesa region said on Thursday that Ukrainian naval forces had struck the Vsevolod Bobrov, setting it alight.

The Russian defense ministry published photos it said had been taken of the ship on Saturday in the Crimean Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

5:23 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Germany on Saturday ahead of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin.

The gathering will consider moves by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, as well as ways in which NATO can support Ukraine without being drawn into the conflict with Russia.

Blinken is also scheduled to meet his NATO counterparts, including Turkey's foreign minister, during the trip.

Members of the band "Kalush Orchestra" perform on behalf of Ukraine in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, May 14, 2022, in Turin.
Members of the band "Kalush Orchestra" perform on behalf of Ukraine in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, May 14, 2022, in Turin.

4:10 p.m.: Ukrainian band, Kalush Orchestra, made an impassioned plea to free people still trapped in a besieged steel mill in a strategic Ukrainian port city on Saturday night after performing in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, where bookmakers tip them to win, The Associated Press reported.

"I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Avostal, right now,'' the band's front man, Oleh Psiuk, said, to the live crowd of some 7,500.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicted he was watching from Kyiv and rooting for Ukrainian band.

3:03 p.m.: Russian diplomats in Washington say they are being threatened with violence and that U.S. intelligence services keep trying to make contact with them, Tass news agency reported Saturday, citing the ambassador.

"It's like a besieged fortress. Basically, our embassy is operating in a hostile environment ... Embassy employees are receiving threats, including threats of physical violence," Tass quoted Anatoly Antonov as saying.

The CIA, the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. State Department did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

1:59 p.m.: Russia has cut off electricity to Finland in apparent retaliation for the Scandinavian country's bid to join NATO, Agence France-Presse reported. Finland gets 10% of its energy from Russia and the void is now being filled by Sweden. Russia had earlier warned that Moscow would retaliate if Finland joins the security alliance.

1:43 p.m.: Turkey is ready to talk about Finland and Sweden joining NATO, said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, despite accusing the Scandinavian countries of harboring "terrorist organizations," Agence France-Presse reported. "A big majority of the Turkish people are against the membership of those countries who are supporting PKK terrorist organization...but these are the issues that we need to talk, of course, with our NATO allies as well as these countries," said Cavusoglu as he arrived for talks in Berlin with NATO members and Finland and Sweden. The PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, has been designated a terrorist organization in the United Kingdom, European Union and the United States.

12:34 p.m.: The Kyiv Independent is describing as "simply terrible" conditions endured by Ukrainian troops holed up at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a port city in southeastern Ukraine that is now controlled by Russian troops. About 600 wounded are at the plant, according to a local police officer who said, “injured soldiers without limbs lie next to each other in unsanitary conditions, with flies, sounds of pain, and foul smells.” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said talks are underway to evacuate the wounded Ukrainian soldiers in exchange for the release of Russian prisoners of war.

12:24 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging the United States to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, according to The Kyiv Independent, an English-language newspaper in Ukraine. Zelenskyy told a group of visiting Republican senators, who are part of a delegation led by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, that he is counting on the U.S. to impose even stronger sanctions on Russia. Zelenskyy's office released a photo of the Ukraine president posing with the U.S. delegation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (center-right) poses for a photo with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (center-left), who led a delegation of Republican senators to Ukraine, in Kyiv, May 14, 2022. The senators are flanked by Ukrainian officials. (Office of the President of Ukraine)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (center-right) poses for a photo with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (center-left), who led a delegation of Republican senators to Ukraine, in Kyiv, May 14, 2022. The senators are flanked by Ukrainian officials. (Office of the President of Ukraine)

12:09 p.m.: Ukrainian troops have initiated a counteroffensive near the Russian-controlled town of Izium in eastern Ukraine, a regional governor said Saturday, according to Reuters. The Russians have been focusing most of their efforts on the Donbas region after failing to reach Ukraine's capital of Kyiv from the north at the start of the war. But Ukraine is reclaiming its territory, repelling the Russians from its second-largest city Kharkiv in its northeast. Continued Ukrainian pressure on Izium and Russian supply lines could complicate Moscow's efforts to surround Ukrainian troops on the eastern front in the Donbas.

11:34 a.m.: Negotiations are underway regarding the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers holed up in a steelworks factory in the southeastern port city of Mariupol in exchange for the release of Russian prisoners of war, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, according to Reuters. Russia now controls Mariupol but hundreds of Ukrainian troops are still holding out at the city's Azovstal steelworks despite weeks of heavy Russian attacks.

11:22 a.m.: The war in Ukraine is fueling a worldwide food and energy crisis that threatens poor nations, the Group of Seven leading economies warned Saturday. Russia is preventing stores of grain from leaving Ukraine, while Ukrainian grain accounts for a sizeable share of the global supply. The G-7 said urgent measures are needed to unblock the Ukrainian grain. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said up to 50 million people, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, face hunger if Ukraine's grain is not released, The Associated Press reported.

11:06 a.m.: Ukrainian forces fought off Russian troops that tried to cross a river and encircle the city of Severodonetsk, the governor of the eastern Luhansk region said, according to Agence France-Presse. Serhiy Haidai reported the Russians suffered heavy equipment and personnel losses. Luhansk is part of eastern Ukraine's Donbas region. Russia has concentrated its forces there without making significant progress.

10:54 a.m.: The Ukraine war could reach a "breaking point" by August, ending in defeat for Russia by the end of the year, according to Kyiv's head of military intelligence, Agence France-Presse reported. Major General Kyrylo Budanov, 36, told the U.K.'s Sky News network that Ukraine knows "everything about our enemy. We know about their plans almost as they're being made." So far, Russia has been able to claim complete control of only one major Ukrainian city.

10:01 a.m.: Turkey is not "closing the door" on Sweden and Finland joining NATO, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters on Saturday. On Friday, Erdogan told reporters he did not have a "favorable opinion" of the two Scandinavian countries joining the security alliance, citing their support of what Turkey considers terrorist organizations, such as Kurdish militant groups. Any NATO enlargement requires the unanimous consent of its existing members.

9:42 a.m.: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led a delegation of Republican senators to Ukraine on Saturday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the visit was a powerful signal of bipartisan U.S. support for Ukraine, according to a readout published by the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, Politico reported.

9:09 a.m.: Russian troops began withdrawing from the heavily contested northeastern city of Kharkiv after weeks of shelling, according to the Ukrainian military. Russian troops are pulling back from Ukraine’s second-largest city and are focusing on protecting supply routes while launching attacks in the eastern Donetsk region to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications,” Ukraine said.

9:00 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Finnish counterpart that it would be a “mistake” for Finland to join NATO, according to a Kremlin statement. Putin and President Sauli Niinisto spoke by phone on Saturday about the traditionally neutral Scandinavian country's desire to join the transatlantic alliance.

6:04 a.m.: CNN reports that more than 50 houses in Ukraine's Luhansk region were hit in the latest round of Russian shelling.

5:05 a.m.: Russia's deputy foreign minister warns that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would lead to the "militarization" of the region, the BBC reports. Additionally, the minister, Alexander Grushko, said that a NATO expansion would cause a "political reaction" from Russia.

4:11 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based think tank, says that Ukraine has won its battle for the city of Kharkiv, Al Jazeera reports. Its strong defense of the city has caused Russia to withdraw from the city, the group says.

3 a.m.: The BBC reports that Sweden and Finland will meet with NATO foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday. It's an informal meeting; both countries are expected to apply to join NATO in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

2:05 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K.'s defense ministry focuses on Ukraine's Kherson Region. The Russian-imposed leaders of the region say they will ask Russia to include the region in the Russian Federation, the update says. That's in line with Russia's original aim for Ukraine: to put most of it under Russian authority. The update notes that Kherson is the only region that has a newly installed pro-Russian local leadership, and that "highlights the failure of Russia's invasion to make progress towards its political objectives in Ukraine."

1:05 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that India, the world's second biggest exporter of wheat, has banned all exports of that crop, effective immediately. The New York Times reports that the decision is an attempt to protect India's food security and that of its neighbors. Meanwhile, wheat prices are rising worldwide because of the conflict in Ukraine.

12:02 a.m.: The New York Times reports that Ukraine's general prosecutor has 41 Russian suspects for war crimes. The prosecutor's office is investigating more than 11,000 suspected war crimes.

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