Ukraine news – live: Putin survived assassination attempt, Kyiv claims

President Zelensky meets US officials

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin apparently survived an assassination attempt at the start of his invasion of Ukraine, the head of Kyiv’s military intelligence service has claimed.

“There was an attempt to assassinate Putin… He was even attacked, it is said, by representatives of the Caucasus, not so long ago. This is non-public information. [It was an] Absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really happened… It was about 2 months ago,” Kyrylo Budanov claimed in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda.

Meanwhile, in an address to world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia’s ongoing invasion will determine whether “brute force will rule the world”, as he pleaded for further economic support in the war.

“This is the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” Mr Zelensky said before calling on nations to enforce further and stronger sanctions on Russia including an embargo on Russian oil, no trade with the Kremlin and a banning of Moscow’s banks from global systems.


Ukrainian refugees in Germany to be allowed to exchange limited amount of currency into euros

Germany’s banks have said that refugees from Ukraine will be allowed to exchange a limited amount of Ukrainian currency into euros from Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday, the banks said they had signed an agreement with the German Finance Ministry and the national banks of Germany and Ukraine to allow a total of 1.5bn hryvnia (£40.4m) to be converted.

Every adult Ukrainian refugee with an account at a major German bank will be allowed to exchange up to 10,000 hryvnia, or about 317 euros (£269).

Andy Gregory24 May 2022 02:58

Dispatch from Vilkhivka: Death lingers in Ukraine village liberated from Russian forces

Our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta has this latest dispatch from Ukraine:

As fighting erupted, Lubov Novikova panicked and began to rush home. She almost made it to her front door when the Russian tank opened fire. The first shell landed ahead on the road, flinging her to the ground; the second killed her instantly.

The 78-year-old, born in the Russian city of Kursk, was left lying on the on the road for six hours, the intensity of the bombing making it impossible to retrieve the body. Eventually her son, Gennady, and his two friends, Evgeny Sholomiy and Slava Ivanov, carried her to one of the few houses still standing in their street.

The three men also took her to the village cemetery the next morning. A missile struck the graveyard while the hasty burial was taking place. Evgeny was killed. Slava was taken home, bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds; he died that evening.

Much of this village of Vilkhivka, near Kharkiv, has been flattened in the fierce months-long combat as it changed hands between Russian and Ukrainian forces. In many streets, every house has been hit. The school and the medical clinic have been destroyed. Explosions continue with ongoing skirmishes in surrounding areas as the Russians attempt to reclaim ground they have recently lost.

A lot of the damage, say the villagers, took place as the Russian and DNR forces were forced to withdraw. “It was spite, just spite, they were losing, having to leave and just opened fire at people, houses, that’s how Lubov was killed,” says Yuri Petrenko, 46, one of her neighbours. “One tank stopped at the bottom of this street, saw the name of the street was in Ukrainian, and fired a shell. It destroyed the sign and the house the sign was attached to.”

You can read the full report here:

Andy Gregory24 May 2022 01:51

Russian ambassador hits out at west’s ‘cyber-totalitarianism’ during UN spat

The UK and US are accusing Russia of spreading disinformation online and manipulating public opinion about the war in Ukraine and vehemently rejecting Russian claims that the West is aiming to control all information flows and define what is true or not true.

Britain’s deputy ambassador James Roscoe told a UN Security Council meeting that Russia has conducted cyber-attacks and used “an online troll factory to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion about their war”.

And US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Russian government “continues to shut down, restrict and degrade internet connectivity, censor content, spread disinformation online, and intimidate and arrest journalists for reporting the truth about its invasion”.

But Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused countries that call themselves a “community of democracies” of building “a cyber-totalitarianism” and along with technology giants like Meta of shutting down Russian TV channels, expelling Russian journalists and blocking access to Russian websites.

Mr Nebenzia said that truth about Ukraine is being ousted by “an intense flow of ideologically charged infospam”, again accusing Western governments and media of fabricating the story of the Russian military killing civilians in Bucha near Kyiv, instead seeking to blame Kyiv.

Andy Gregory24 May 2022 00:47

Russia waging ‘total war’ on Ukraine, Zelensky says

Russia is waging “total war” on Ukraine, inflicting as many casualties and as much infrastructure destruction as possible, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

In his nightly video address, on the eve of the three-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Mr Zelensky said the Russian army had launched 1,474 missile strikes using 2,275 different missiles – the vast majority of which he said hit civilian targets.

“Indeed, there has not been such a war on the European continent for 77 years,” the Ukrainian president said.

Andy Gregory23 May 2022 23:40

Azovstal fighters to face tribunal in Mariupol, Interfax claims

Ukrainian soldiers captured at the Azovstal steelworks will be tried at a tribunal in Mariupol, Russian news agency Interfax has claimed, quoting an anonymous source familiar with preparations for the hearing.

“According to preliminary data, the first intermediate tribunal will be held in Mariupol,” the source was reported as saying.

It comes after Denis Pushilin, the separatist leader in Donetsk, told Interfax that all of the Azovstal fighters are being held in Russian-controlled territory in Donetsk, and an international tribunal is planned to be organised there.

Andy Gregory23 May 2022 22:24

Russia will focus on developing economic ties with China, Lavrov says

Moscow would consider offers of re-establishing ties with the West and think whether that is needed, but will focus on developing ties with China, Russia’s foreign minister has said.

“If they want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” the Russian foreign ministry quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying in a speech on Monday.

“Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” Mr Lavrov said.

Andy Gregory23 May 2022 22:09

Putin is only Russian official I will meet with to discuss ending war, Zelensky says

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Vladimir Putin is the only Russian official he is willing to meet with to discuss how to end the war.

Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Ukrainian president said that arranging any talks with Russia was becoming more difficult in light of what he said was evidence of Russian actions against civilians under occupation.

“The president of the Russian Federation decides it all,” Mr Zelensky said through an interpreter. “If we are talking about ending this war without him personally, that decision cannot be taken.

Zelenskiy said the discovery of mass killings in areas occupied by Russian troops earlier in the war, particularly outside Kyiv, made it more difficult to arrange talks and that he would rule out any discussions with other officials.

“I cannot accept any kind of meeting with anyone coming from the Russian Federation but the president,” he said. “And only in the case when there is one issue on the [table]: stopping the war. There are no other grounds for any other kind of meeting.”

Andy Gregory23 May 2022 21:49

EU will agree oil embargo ‘within days’, German minister says

The European Union will likely agree an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days”, German economy minister Robert Habeck has suggested.

But Mr Habeck warned that an embargo would not automatically weaken the Kremlin as rising prices were enabling it to rake in more income while selling lower volumes of oil.

Therefore, one consideration was to no longer pay “any price” for oil, but to agree on upper limits, he told broadcaster ZDF. For that to work, however, many countries would have to get on board.

Efforts to coordinate an EU-wide embargo have been stalled, as Hungary demands financial assistance before agreeing to such a move, with prime minister Viktor Orban warning Budapest would be severely impacted economically by an embargo.

Andy Gregory23 May 2022 21:21

Civilians being killed in eastern assault, UN warns

United Nations staff on the ground in Ukraine remain concerned about the impact on civilians by fierce fighting in the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv, a spokesperson has said.

People are being killed and wounded, while homes and civilian infrastructure have been destroyed, Stephane Dujarric said.

In the government-controlled part of Luhansk, local authorities informed the UN that a bridge leading to the administrative center of the region, Sievierodonetsk, was destroyed on 21 May. He said that left the partially encircled city reachable by only one road.

While some people managed to leave Sievierodonetsk over the weekend, Mr Dujarric said local authorities estimate that thousands of civilians remain in the war-affected city and require urgent support.

UN humanitarian staff also said that shelling and airstrikes were reported in northern, central and southern parts of Ukraine, claiming civilian lives and damaging infrastructure.

Andy Gregory23 May 2022 21:07

Coffee to go: Starbucks to permanently close stores in Russia

Starbucks has become the latest western business to pull out of Russia over its war in Ukraine.

The American company announced on Monday that it was permanently shutting all of its 130 stores and ending its brand presence in the country, more than two months after it first suspended its business activities there.

My colleague Rory Sullivan has the details here:

Andy Gregory23 May 2022 20:45

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