War in Ukraine: Latest developments
Zelensky says the bombardment of Severodonetsk is "brutal and absolutely pointless".
KYIV: MAY. 20 – Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:
– ‘Hell’ in Donbas -The renewed Russian offensive in Donbas has turned the eastern Ukrainian region into “hell”,
President Volodymyr Zelensky says.
“In Donbas, the occupiers are trying to increase pressure,” Zelensky says in his nightly address.
“There’s hell, and that’s not an exaggeration.”
Moscow’s forces are trying to take complete control of Donbas, a Russian-speaking area that has been partially controlled since 2014 by pro-Kremlin separatists.
– ‘Brutal’ bombardment of Severodonetsk –
The governor of the eastern Lugansk region says at least 12 people have been killed and 40 injured in the Russian shelling of the city of Severodonetsk. Severodonetsk has been the target of sustained bombardment in recent days as Russian forces attempt to capture the easternmost city still in Ukrainian hands.Six civilians also die in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, regional governors say.
Zelensky says the bombardment of Severodonetsk is “brutal and absolutely pointless”.
– US Congress approves $40-billion aid package –
Congress approves a new $40-billion aid package for Ukraine, the latest tranche of US assistance for Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s invasion. It is roundly approved by the Senate after being adopted by the House of Representatives last week. The White House says President Joe Biden will sign it during his trip to Asia.
– Russian soldier begs forgiveness –
The Russian soldier at the centre of the first war crimes trial held over the conflict asks the widow of the Ukrainian civilian he killed for forgiveness.
Vadim Shishimarin, 21, admits to shooting dead 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov near the northern village of Chupakhivka on February 28 to stop him from reporting a carjacking.
“I know that you will not be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness,” he says on the second day of the trial in Kyiv.
Ukrainian prosecutors request he be given a life sentence.
– 1,730 Mariupol fighters surrender –
Russia says the number of Ukrainian soldiers who have surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has risen to 1,730.
Ukraine persuaded the men to stand down to save their lives after weeks spent in the underground complex, with dire shortages of food, water and medicine.
– ‘No shortcuts’ to EU –
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says there can be “no shortcuts” to European Union membership for Ukraine, the second EU leader to quash Kyiv’s hope of fast-track membership in as many weeks. Scholz says making an exception for Ukraine would be unfair to the Western Balkan countries also seeking to join.”The accession process is not a matter of a few months or years,” he warns.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemns what he calls the “second-class treatment” of his country.
– Turkey ‘determined’ to block NATO bids –
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is “determined” to block Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO, calling Stockholm, in particular, a “complete terror haven”.
Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership, renouncing decades of military non-alignment, over fears they could be future targets of Russian aggression.
US President Joe Biden meets Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Washington to tell them their countries “meet every NATO requirement”.
Addressing Turkey, Niinisto says Finland is “open to discussing all the concerns that you may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says: “I’m very confident that as this process moves forward, there will be a strong consensus for bringing both countries under the alliance.”
– US, Russia generals speak –
Top US General Mark Milley speaks by telephone with his Russian counterpart General Valery Gerasimov, the Pentagon says, their first discussion since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February.
Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, discuss “several security-related issues of concern”, according to a US JCS spokesman.
– War could stretch out: Pentagon –
A senior Pentagon official says that the Ukraine war could continue for a long time despite Kyiv’s forces recapturing the Kharkiv region and their use of substantial US artillery supplies.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, cautions against analysts saying that Russian forces are stretched to capacity and could within weeks reach a point at which they are no longer able to advance.”It’s difficult to know where this is going to go over time,” the official says.