Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska
Photo: Dmytro Kozatskyy from Azov
Mariupol. First evacuations from Azovstal took place. In the evening, about 10 buses with Ukrainian servicemen left the territory of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. The buses with wounded soldiers later arrived in Novoazovsk, which is in the temporarily occupied territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Another 211 people were taken to the town of Olenivka, in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. All of the evacuees will be subject to a potential further war-prisoner exchange with Russia. Currently, around 600 troops were believed to have been inside the steel plant. Ukraine’s military said that efforts were underway to evacuate those who are still inside.The official message of the General Staff of Ukraine says ‘The ‘Mariupol’ garrison has fulfilled its combat mission’. The Chief of the Azov battalion said they are fulfilling the order on saving the people. For 82 days they pulled the superior forces of Russian troops onto themselves, thereby allowing the Ukrainian army to regroup, train more personnel, and obtain more weapons from partner countries.
According to the General Staff of Ukraine, in Mariupol, the main efforts of Russian troops have been focused on the blockade and defeat of Ukrainian units near the ‘Azovstal’ plant. The invaders are trying to penetrate or block the exit from the Azovstal bunkers. All ground operations are carried out by Russians only along the perimeter of the plant. Fifteen women died at ‘Azovstal’. Among them are servicewomen and medical workers.
Cities under attack. Series of explosions struck Lviv and the Lviv region early on Tuesday. Mostly the air defense system was heard in Lviv, however, remnants of the shelling have damaged railway infrastructure in the Yavoriv region. Lviv city mayor says it has been the biggest attack in terms of the launched missiles at the region. Russian forces shelled two villages in the Chernihiv region near the Russian-Ukrainian border. Five missiles hit civilian infrastructure in Ohtyrka, Sumy region. Regular shelling of the border regions, like Chernigiv and Sumy, is a common practice by Russian authorities to keep Ukrainian forces in these regions alert. In the Kharkiv region, the Russian military fired at a warehouse with ammonium nitrate and the explosion formed a red cloud.
The Ministry of Defence of the UK reports approximately 3500 buildings in the Chernihiv region are estimated to have been destroyed or damaged during Russia’s abandoned advance toward the Ukrainian capital. 80% of the damage has been caused to residential buildings. Most of the damages were caused by different types of artillery which confirms targeted attacks at the inhabited areas.
Cities under occupation. Russian forces were instructed to prepare the temporarily occupied Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia region for a ‘referendum’. Enorhodar is known for its Zaporizhzhia NPP, which is one of the biggest NPPs in Europe. Ukrainska Pravda referring to the Regional Military Administration reports the Russians want to create a media image suggesting that the residents of the city, home of a major nuclear power plant, are expressing their desire to join Russia, but in fact, Russian forces wish ultimately to link the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to Rosatom and destroy Ukraine’s energy system. According to local residents, in Enerhodar the Russian military went to the apartments on Monday and picked up the men, tied their hands and took them away to an unknown place. Six people are currently reported as having been abducted. While committing these crimes, the Russians kept everyone living in the apartments at gunpoint.
Kherson region. The humanitarian crisis is growing in the occupied Kherson region. All entry and departure exits are controlled by Russian forces, thus residents of the region do not have the opportunity to travel to the territory controlled by Ukraine and have almost limited ability to move around the region. Humanitarian aid delivery is often thwarted and looted by Russian forces. In the first days of the occupation, the occupiers looted a large number of food chains and pharmacies. Given that the Russians transported Ukrainian products to Crimea and Russia, 5-year-old products and expired medicines are being distributed as humanitarian aid. At the same time, in exchange for them, they require passport data, lists of pensioners, social workers and just people living in a particular community. According to the mayor of the city Igor Kolykhaev in Kherson, medicines will run out in two weeks, there are no no supplies for intravenous droppers, there is not enough medicine for cardiovascular diseases, and there is a lack of oxygen. Drastic lack of medicines and food supplies is also recorded in the region. Currently, out of 1 mln inhabitants, about 500,000 people remain in the region. The Russian troops robbed the Kherson’s public media ‘Suspilne’, and now are creating propaganda instead. The Russian military set up one of its headquarters in the broadcaster’s office. The equipment was taken out.
Human rights. Russia has reopened camps, set up in various parts of the country, to house forcibly deported Ukrainians. Russia deported 65 000 Ukrainian citizens from Mariupol alone to these camps, including children and the elderly. In Russia’s far eastern maritime region, which is closer to Tokyo than to Moscow, a local newspaper reported in late April that 300 people, including 86 children, pregnant women and retirees, arrived in Vladyvostok, after a tiring seven-day trip on the Trans-Siberian Express. The newcomers, including those, who survived the siege of Mariupol, were taken to the ‘Vostok’ hotel complex on the coast, near Nakhodka. While Russian media claimed that Ukrainians had ‘chosen’ to live in the Russian Far East, adding that ‘almost everyone enjoys the beauty of the sea’, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol said that Ukrainians have neither documents nor money, and they are promised only low-paid jobs on the edge of the world.
War crimes prosecution. 42 investigators from the International Criminal Court will arrive in Ukraine to investigate war crimes committed by Russian occupants, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan said, Le Monde writes. The team of investigators includes 30 specialists from the Netherlands, including forensic experts and analysts, who will ‘find the facts and establish the truth’. Meanwhile, Ukrainian law enforcement officers have identified 45 Russians who, according to investigators, committed atrocities in Ukraine. ‘Three people are already in court. This is one person, who is accused in murdering of a civilian, and two more people have been brought to court (they are physically located in Ukraine). These are the people, who shelled civilian infrastructure in the Kharkiv region’, – stated Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.
In Bucha the Kyiv region police found burials with the bodies of three men in civilian clothes who were shot by Russian troops.
War crimes.The International Criminal Court, prosecutors from across the globe and Ukraine’s prosecutor general are investigating more than 8,000 reports of potential war crimes in Ukraine involving 500 suspects. Many are accused of aiming deliberately at civilian structures like hospitals, shelters and residential neighborhoods. In the nearly three months since Russia invaded Ukraine, The Associated Press and the PBS series ‘Frontline’ have independently verified 57 schools that were destroyed or damaged in a manner that indicates a possible war crime. The accounting likely represents just a fraction of potential war crimes committed during the conflict and the list is updated daily.
Proofs of war crimes. The Virtual Museum of Memory website, dedicated to researching the Russian invasion of the Kyiv region, has been launched. This resource offers the opportunity to take 3D tours of the bombed-out Russian cities of the Kyiv region.
Foreign policy. Sweden has formally decided to join NATO following a similar decision by its neighbor Finland, ending more than 200 years of military non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.The application for membership will be submitted together with Finland.
The Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba has started his official visit to Brussels to push for the sixth sanctions package, military aid support and discussion of the potential candidate status granting to Ukraine in June. ‘I know countries that are extremely supportive of this decision, and I know those who are monitoring developments and will make their decision closer to the date’, – said the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his address at the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Kuleba focused on the following priority sanctions areas – oil and energy embargo, disconnection of the Russian and Belarus banks from the SWIFT system, reconsidering trade connections and whereas it is possible to cut them, ban of Russian media to cut the propaganda flow, as well as to increase individual sanctions.
The EU agreed on 500 million euros in aid to Ukraine. But they did not agree on the sixth package of sanctions, which provides for the rejection of Russian energy resources. However, the EU foreign ministers could not reach a consensus to persuade Hungary to lift its veto of a proposed oil embargo on Russia, with Lithuania saying the bloc was being “held hostage by one member state”.
Opinion polls. Razumkov Center held a sociological survey of the Ukrainian citizens who left Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian war in Ukraine and now are returning to Ukraine. Currently State Border Services of Ukraine indicate at the high wave of the returns of the Ukrainian citizens back to Ukraine. The findings show that citizens of Ukraine who have minor children are still less likely to return to Ukraine (or, as some of them told interviewers, leave their children with other relatives and return to the country themselves).
- Estonia’s Tough Voice on Ukraine Urges No Compromise With Putin – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
- A Ukrainian City Under a Violent New Regime: How the Russian occupation transformed life in Melitopol – The New Yorker (newyorker.com)
- Planning in Independent Ukraine: Understanding its Becoming and Consolidation (tandfonline.com)
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 10 a.m., May 17, 2022: personnel – around 27 900, tanks ‒ 1235, APV ‒ 3009, artillery systems – 578, MLRS – 198, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 90, fixed-wing aircraft – 201, helicopters – 167, soft-skinned vehicles and fuel tankers – 2109, boats and light speed boats – 13, operational-tactical level UAV – 436, special equipment – 43, cruise missiles – 97.
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