Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska
Photo: Evacuation from Azovstal/ Telegram channel of Ukrainian Armed Forces
Azovstal. Evacuation of the soldiers from Azovstal continues. Yesterday another 7 buses left from the steel plant to Russia controlled territories in the Donetsk region. Preliminary all wounded soldiers need to receive medical treatment prior to further exchange. However, the concerns about the soldiers’ safety remain. Russia’s Investigative Committee will interrogate Ukrainian servicemen taken out of Azovstal. They want to identify them and verify their involvement in ‘crimes against civilians’. Some Russian Duma (Russian Parliament) members are considering passing laws that would prohibit prisoner exchanges for individuals accused of ‘Nazism’. Therefore, under the fake allegations, Russia might consider Mariupol defenders to be charged with war crimes and cannot be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. Ukrainian authorities are calling to avoid speculating the details, as further negotiations about evacuations are still underway.
The defenders of Mariupol changed the course of the war with Russia by resisting for 82 days, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said, adding they had interrupted Russia’s operation to seize swathes of territory in eastern and southern Ukraine. Due to their ongoing resistance, Russian forces could not seize other parts of the regions, as well as promptly proceed with the offensive.
Cities under attack. Russian forces continue intensified artillery shelling of the Ukrainian border settlements in Chernihiv and Sumy region. Institute for the Study of War reports, the Ukrainian Northern Operational Command reported that Russian forces shelled the border between Sumy region and Russia over 70 times on May 17. Sumy Regional Administration Head Dmytro Zhyvytskyi said that Russian saboteurs unsuccessfully attempted to break through the Ukrainian border on May 17. Eight people were killed and 12 wounded in a Russian airstrike on the village of Desna in Chernihiv region, the regional emergency service said. Russian missile strikes hit the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk region. They hit a five-story residential building, because of which a 9 years old child was seriously injured, and one person died. Also the Russian missile hit the building of the ‘Knauf’ factory. In the morning, a missile attack targeted Dnipro as two missiles were launched at the city. An air defense system managed to destroy them, however, a woman was still injured.
Kherson region. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin has visited the Kherson region. RIA Novosti reported that Khusnullin said that the region would take a ‘worthy place in our Russian family’. On May 1, Moscow introduced the Russian ruble as the official currency in the region. A few days ago, the Russian-installed local government in Kherson said it plans to appeal to Moscow for the right to become part of the Russian Federation. Kherson remains closed for official entry/exit in order to proceed with the region’s isolation and threatening of the officials. Russian forces keep people for hours in lines to the checkpoints in their attempts to leave the city. Such a move is followed with consent propaganda, ongoing propaganda preventing people from leaving the region, as well as threatening them. On the one hand, there are fears that Russian forces will take over the apartments of those who left the city. Yesterday, a civilian was killed while delivering humanitarian aid in the city. On May 16, the Russian military abducted Oleksiy Vorontsov, an engineer of the Ukrainian broadcaster ‘Suspilne Kherson’, from his own house in temporarily occupied Kherson. Currently, the location of the employee of the Ukrainian broadcaster ‘Suspilne’ is unknown.
Foreign policy. The Parliament of Finland approved a proposal to join NATO with an overwhelming majority after a parliamentary debate. The decision concludes a decades-old policy of the country’s neutrality. Finland and Sweden are expected to submit their NATO membership applications today, on Wednesday.
The EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has stated that the European Union will not allow Ukraine to run out of weapons. ‘Currently, the conflict is at a critical stage. We cannot allow Ukraine’s military equipment and armaments to run out’, – said Josep Borrell after a meeting of the EU Defense Council. Meanwhile, the European Commission will put forward a plan to acquire a new defense role by helping the member countries coordinate their increasing military spending.
In the upcoming G7 meeting, the Finance ministers are to discuss another package that would cover three months, with a short-term financing arrangement mainly in the form of grants, which unlike loans do not have to be repaid, the official said, adding that the aid was needed because Ukraine’s revenues have collapsed. The total value of the package equals around 15 billion euro ($15.8 billion).
‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a call for large-scale economic assistance to Ukraine. The mounting need for more financial support to rebuild Ukraine comes in a line with the assessment of the current amounts, which as she says will not even meet short-term needs as the nation struggles with the devastation because Russia’s invasion.The US is underway preparing a $40 billion package for Ukraine, expected to win final passage in the Senate on Wednesday.
Germany’s ruling coalition agreed Berlin would play a constructive role in debates about how to channel billions of euros to Ukraine, Bloomberg reports. The subject will be a matter of discussion at the Group of Seven finance ministers meet in Bonn May 18-20. Berlin’s preference would be to mobilize funds via the European Investment Bank. To cover Ukraine’s short-term financial needs — an estimated 5 billion euros ($5.2 billion) per month, which Germany is ready to contribute to, if other countries also add their share.
Human rights. More than 3000 civilians in Mariupol are kept in the ‘filtration prison’ – a former correctional colony № 52 in the village of Olenivka, Donetsk region. Among the hostages are about 30 volunteers who tried to bring humanitarian aid to Mariupol and save the residents. Before being sent to the colony, the occupiers subjected the detained citizens to many hours of interrogation and torture with electric shocks. Duration of the ‘filtration’, namely stay in the colony – is 30 days. For ‘especially unreliable’ – activists, former military, law enforcement officers, it continues for another month.
Negotiations. Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have been officially suspended. At first Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Andriy Rudenko stated that negotiations between the two countries were not ongoing. Later Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, later confirmed this thesis, ‘The negotiation process between Ukraine and Russia has been suspended. However, it will be restored, and it seems to me that Zelensky will be the moderator’. He added that Ukraine was not going to give anything away ‘to save Putin’s face’.
Health security. The World Health Organization alerts that the infectious diseases may spread due to the destroyed water supply system in Mariupol. ‘We received the information from non-governmental organizations working there, that in Mariupol the streets are just a swamp, and sewer water is mixed with drinking water. This is a huge danger of spreading many infections, including cholera. We remember that there were cases of cholera in Mariupol before 2011, and we are getting ready’, – said Dorit Nitzan, WHO Regional Director for Emergencies. WHO is preparing cholera kits and vaccines, and is collaborating with other non-governmental organizations to help residents in the occupied territory.
War crimes prosecution.Two Russian soldiers are due to go on trial on Thursday for allegedly firing rockets at civilian infrastructure in the Kharkiv region. On Tuesday, the office of the Ukrainian chief prosecutor tweeted that it had registered 11 846 cases of ‘crimes of aggression and war crimes’ and 5644 ‘crimes against national security’ involving 623 suspects.
Cyber security. For the first time, Ukraine has received two important CYBERSEC Awards in the field of cybersecurity: for heroic resistance to Russian aggression and protection of the digital borders of the democratic world, says Mykhailo Fedorov, Minister of Digital Transformation. Ukraine withstood a number of Russia-backed cyber attacks at state resources, websites, banking systems, and media. With the start of a full-scale war, Ukraine not only began to defend themselves but has launched a full-fledged IT army to defend the country.
Science. Ukraine has lost its unique stock of plants’ varieties after Russian onslaught left a national biorepository in ‘ashes’. The Russian military has destroyed the National Center for Plant Genetic Resources in Kharkiv. It was the only plant genetic bank in Ukraine. The bank stored more than 160 000 varieties and hybrids of plants from around the world. The destruction appears to have been deliberate, says Serhiy Avramenko, leader of the research team at National Center for Plant Genetic Resources, adding they (Russian forces) targeted the facility with exceptional precision. The unique collection that was spared by the German fascists in WWII failed to survive in the onslaught of the present-day aggressors.
Crimea. Crimean Tatars in occupied territories are having their properties raided and activists are beginning to be rounded up and arrested. Scores of Crimean Tatar activists, lawyers and citizens have been targeted by the Russian security services in Crimea itself, while many others fled to Ukraine’s mainland seeking safety. The current invasion and reports of a ‘hit list’ linked to it has raised further fears about the Crimean Tatars’ safety. Combined with an increased military presence using Crimea as a staging post for the war, receiving information from Crimea is becoming increasingly difficult. Despite this difficulty some disturbing information is coming out. For instance, reports are coming out of Crimea that human rights defenders are receiving warnings not to engage in their activities, being raided by the police and having their IT equipment confiscated. Moreover, on 10 March 2022, five Crimean Tatars – Ramzi Bekirov, Riza Izetov, Shaban Umerov, Raim Aivazov, Farkhod Bazarov – were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of between 15 and 19 years for participating in Hizb Ut-Tahrir, an Islamic rights organization that was openly active in Crimea before being banned by Russia after the illegal occupation.
Decolonisation reading – Deportations. Soviet mass deportations began in 1918 and lasted for more than 30 years. They affected over 6 million people representing various ethnic, social, and religious groups. In 2022 history repeats – Russia is once again employing the same instrument, deportation, forcefully moving Ukrainians from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to Russian territories, mostly economically depressed ones. Anna Yatsenko, researcher of memorial culture, After Silence NGO, presents an analysis of the Russian “guidelines” of deportations which were applied more than 70 years ago and are repeated once again these days. Read more in the article ‘Soviet Mass Deportations: Guidelines for Assimilation for the Russian Authorities’.
- The Biggest Threat to Putin’s Control of Crimea – The Atlantic – In May 1944, over the course of three days, Stalin deported the entire Crimean Tatar nation—roughly 200,000 people—from its homeland. In the Crimean Tatar language, the deportation is remembered as Sürgün (“the Exile”), an event of brutal dispossession and mass death. In 2014, history nearly repeated – once Russian annexed the peninsula, persecution of the Crimean Tatars returned. Today we commemorate the 78th anniversary of the illegal deportations of the Crimean Tatar nation.
- According to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, more than 300000 square kilometers have to be demined, which is almost equal to the total area of Italy.
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 10 a.m., May 18, 2022: personnel – around 28 300, tanks ‒ 1251, APV ‒ 3043, artillery systems – 586, MLRS – 199, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 91, fixed-wing aircraft – 202, helicopters – 167, soft-skinned vehicles and fuel tankers – 2137, boats and light speed boats – 13, operational-tactical level UAV – 441, special equipment – 43, cruise missiles – 97.
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