Prepared by Sofia Oliynyk and Maryana Zaviyska
The Russian war against Ukraine enters its fourth month.
Cities under attack.
All high-rise buildings in Pivnichna Saltivka district in Kharkiv have been damaged or destroyed by Russian shelling, says Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. The Sumy region continues to be under regular fire. Due to another mortar fire, an old farm in the Krasnopillia community caught on fire. In the Dnipropetrovsk region, four missile strikes hit railway infrastructure. Explosions were heard in Mykolaiv and the region. Eighty-seven people were killed in a Russian airstrike in Desna, Chernihiv region last Tuesday. It is considered Ukraine’s biggest single strike military death toll of the war so far. Desna is known for its training base and military barracks for servicepeople.
Ukrainian forces liberated 24 settlements in the Kharkiv region and returned them back under Ukrainian control.
The continued shelling in Donetsk and Luhansk regions damaged the main gas pipeline and cut off the gas supply to Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Ukrainian authorities report shelling along the entire front line. The situation is exacerbating in Avdiivka, Lyman, Raigorodka. The evacuation from the front zone continues despite the shelling. Ukraine is forced to start the import of salt as a massive factory in Donbas – Artemsil, of the biggest salt enterprises in the world – had shut down in April due to war. Artemsil extracts over 70% of the country’s salt.
In the Luhansk region, Russian troops shelled an evacuation bus with the residents of the Hirska community inside. Due to the constant shelling, only one bus per day can leave the region if possible, however, oftentimes people have to remain in the shelter due to the high risks of injury. Severodonetsk remains a constant target of Russian shelling. Six houses in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk have been destroyed, as well as four houses in Zolote and three in Novodruzhesk.
Russia wants to arrange a pseudo-tribunal for Ukrainian fighters from Azovstal. Denis Pushilin, the representative of the occupation authorities, says all prisoners of war from Azovstal are on the territory of the so-called DPR, Russia-occupied part of the Donetsk region or on Russian territories. Therefore, an ‘international tribunal’ will be arranged on the territory of the so-called republic.
Cities under occupation.
Russian authorities are developing the network of their ‘commandant’s offices’. In the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, the Russians have already established 19 of such offices.
The situation remains critical. The most acute problem is provisions and medicines supplies to the villages bordering Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions. The territories are used as the bases for the artillery. In most settlements, it is not possible to deliver humanitarian aid and organize a green corridor. Also, Russian occupiers continue to destroy Ukrainian symbols in Kherson and hang out their tricolor and Soviet symbols around the city instead. The Russia-appointed administration of Ukraine’s Kherson region plans to ask Moscow to set up a military base on its territory in order for it to be ‘security guarantor’ for the local population and the region overall. See below the block ‘Human rights’ to find more information about the region.
The humanitarian situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia remains difficult. The head of the Zaporizhzhia military administration stated that Russian occupiers are trying to force people to comply with their illegal demands, like paying extra fees or overhead from their income, in order to have the license to operate. There are reported cases of entrepreneurs being kidnapped and kept in basements for ransom. Also, the occupiers are engaged in systematic robbing and racketeering of the local population and entrepreneurs: they have forcibly taken dozens of units of equipment and stolen grain from granaries. The grain that was to be sold to international partners responsible for food security in the world. Most of the stolen goods end up in the Crimea. Due to such actions in the region, fewer civilians agree to cooperate with the occupiers.
The situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP is complicated as well. Although the nuclear power plant is still operating and connected to Ukraine’s energy network, its staff has not been allowed to leave on rotation. On May 23, the occupiers shot Serhiy Shvets, an employee of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant’s energy repair department. Russian forces broke into his apartment and opened fire. He survived the attack and was taken to the hospital with severe injuries.
The Russians are demanding money from civilians trying to leave Melitopol. At the checkpoints, Russian forces demand between UAH 3000 to 5000. Those who are not able to pay the bribe, are forced to stay in the city under the conditions imposed by local self-proclaimed authorities.
Ombudswoman of Ukraine Denisova reports they receive 700-800 daily calls to report Russian war crimes at the Commissioner’s hotline. 1500 citizens called the psychological helpline reporting sexual assaults and torture. Within the last 24 hours, the Commissioner’s psychological helpline was contacted by people from Oleksandrivka, Kherson region, reporting sexual violence crimes. The number of the reports also mentioned rape and murder of underage children. Some of the children died from the obtained injuries.
Russian war criminal Vadim Shishimarin, commander of the 4th Kantemirov Panzer Division from the Moscow region, was sentenced to life in prison. The Solomyansky District Court of Kyiv sentenced him in accordance with Part 2 of Article 438 (violation of the rules and customs of war) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for the premeditated murder of 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian Oleksandr Shepilov.
At the occupied territories of the Mykolayiv region, Russian forces directed civilians, who were trying to evacuate, to the minefield. Those who survived were shot to death. Among the killed, there were two children.
Ukraine Defense Contact Group met for the second time on May 23 in the digital format. Defense ministers from 44 countries, chaired by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III discussed further coordination of the military aid to support Ukraine. Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov and his team joined the meeting, as well as representatives of the EU and NATO. The meeting included an exchange on the state of the affairs on the ground, as well as an update on the further supplies of the military aid to Ukraine, like Harpoon launcher and missiles provided by Denmark, helicopters, tanks and rocket systems, provided by the Czech Republic, etc. 20 countries have announced new security packages for Ukraine, including the transfer of critical artillery systems and ammunition. The next in-person meeting of the contact group will take place in Brussels next month.
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovakia will present a joint letter to the EU calling for the use of sanctioned Russian assets for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
Meanwhile, Lithuania calls for the creation of a naval coalition to unblock the ports of Ukraine. The Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, proposed a naval escort operation – not run by NATO – to protect the grain ships as they head through the Black Sea and past Russian warships. The initiative has already received the backing from the UK.
Poland terminates the agreement on the supply of Russian gas ahead of schedule. Anna Moskva, Minister of Climate and Environment of Poland, twitted ‘Poland denounces the 1993 intergovernmental gas agreement on Yamal. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine confirmed the determination of the Polish government to become completely independent of Russian gas. We have always known that Gazprom is not a reliable partner’.
The Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev, Russia’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva, resigned because of the war with Ukraine. In his statement, he indicated that during his diplomatic service he has never been so ashamed of his country and his work: ‘Putin unleashed the aggressive war with Ukraine, but in fact with all the western world – is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia’.
World Economic Forum.
The World Economic Forum returned to Davos on Monday bringing more than 2000 business and economic leaders as well as experts from across the globe. Ukraine is one of the key issues under discussion at the series of the events. President Zelenskyi spoke via video-link in the forum’s main hall. In his address, he underlined that the world is facing a turning point on whether the brute force will rule the world. He called to continue with further sanctions against Russia to the maximum extent, including oil embargo, the blockage of all Russian banks and termination of all trade. Foreign businesses should withdraw completely from Russia, and the Russian IT industry should be cut off from the West. Ukraine needs the requested weapons, not just any weapons, in order to resist the Russian offensive.
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko called for support for secure safe passage for food export vessels in a corridor out of the port city of Odesa. She said that it would take between 5 to 7 years to export all these agricultural yields by rail or road. Therefore, it is crucially important to unblock the seaports as soon as possible.
The Klitschko brothers called for the sanctions against Russian sportsmen and women, as well as pinpointed that Ukraine is fighting for every human life at the moment.
Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, warned the world economy is in its worst state since World War II. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “compounded” the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, weighing on the economic recovery and fanning inflation as the cost of food and fuel jumps, CNN reports.
The Microsoft team will support the digital industry during the reconstruction process in Ukraine. This was agreed in Davos at a meeting of the Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation with Microsoft President Brad Smith. During the war, the Microsoft team facilitates the documentation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine and cooperates with the UN team in exchanging information on the losses from the war in Ukraine. The company estimates an approximate total of $ 242 million in digital support has been provided to Ukraine. This includes financial grants, promotional campaigns, free access to the company’s products and services.
Propaganda books, including Russian classics, are considered whether to be removed from public libraries in Ukraine. According to preliminary estimates by the director of the Ukrainian Book Institute Oleksandra Koval, their number could reach 100 million copies, about half of all books in libraries. The criteria for removal of the books include anti-Ukrainian content with imperial narratives, literature promoting violence, books with pro-Russian and chauvinist policies.
European Film Academy president Agnieszka Holland has criticized the Cannes Film Festival for welcoming a Russian movie to the main competition.’If it were up to me, I would not include Russian films in the official program of the festival – even if Kirill Serebrennikov is such a talented artist,’ the Agnieszka Holland said.
For Europe Day, artist Andriy Yermolenko created posters showing solidarity between Ukraine and different countries. In his works, he integrated symbols of different countries into the coat of arms of Ukraine. With these posters, Andriy calls to express gratitude to Europeans for supporting Ukraine during this difficult time.
Time magazine released the list of the most influential people in the world in 2022. Three Ukrainians are on the list – President Zelenskyi, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyy, Sevgil Musaieva, and the editor in chief of top independent news site Ukrayinska Pravda.
War for freedom.
Olha Kryzhanivska is a civil activist and fitness club founder who fled Ukraine at the beginning of the war and became a refugee in Berlin, Germany. She and her 5-year-old son were surrounded by Russian soldiers and tanks in the suburbs of Kyiv with little food left and no mobile service. In the end, they managed to get to a safe place. Read how in this story.
- Bread in Ukraine: why a loaf means life | Economist (economist.com)
- Is the United Nations fit for purpose? | Economist (economist.com) – Amid war in Ukraine, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, talks to Anne McElvoy about the organization’s role in preventing deadly conflict.
- The War Won’t End Until Putin Loses | The Atlantic (theatlantic.com) – Anne Applebaum argues that offering the Russian president a face-saving compromise will only enable future aggression.
- Putin’s key mistake? Not understanding Ukraine’s blossoming national identity – even in the Russian-friendly southeast | The Conversation (theconversation.com) – ‘To the extent Ukrainians and Russians in Ukraine see themselves as one people, they increasingly do so as part of a multiethnic Ukrainian national identity anchored by shared citizenship and a shared love of the country Putin’s forces continue to assault. In the long term, the ongoing attacks will further reinforce Ukraine’s civic national identity and solidify what Putin fears most from Ukraine: a broad desire to look westward, rather than eastward, for its future.’
- General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced the total estimated losses of the Russian military as of 10 a.m., May 24, 2022: personnel – around 29 350, tanks ‒ 1302, APV ‒ 3194, artillery systems – 606, MLRS – 201, anti-aircraft warfare systems – 93, fixed-wing aircraft – 205, helicopters – 170, operational-tactical level UAV – 480, cruise missiles – 112, boats and light speed boats – 13, soft-skinned vehicles and fuel tankers – 2213, special equipment – 43.
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