Ukraine launches major overnight aerial attack as battle for Kharkiv town rages: live

Ukraine launches major overnight aerial attack as battle for Kharkiv town rages: live
Putin sends message to West as he is sworn in for fifth term as Russian president

Ukraine has launched a major aerial attack on the Russian-held port city of Sevastapol in Crimea overnight, as well as several Russian regions.

The assault that stretched across Crimea, Belgorod, Kursk and Bryansk likely involved US-provided long-range ATACMS missiles, according to the Russian defence ministry, which claimed the attack had largely been “averted”.

At least 10 ATACMS and 17 attack drones were used in the attack, Russia said. Ukraine does not typically comment on its operations against regions within Russia or the Crimea Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014.

The attack comes as the chief of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency warned the new frontline of the war in northeastern Ukraine was “on the edge” with Russian troops advancing towards Kharkiv.

General Kyrylo Budanov said “every hour” counted and Moscow’s assault was intended to exhaust Kyiv’s thin reserves across the frontline.

Up to 30,000 Russian troops are involved in the attack after Moscow unexpectedly began targeting the region last Friday, Kyiv’s security council warned.


Ukraine’s Zelensky cancels visit to Spain and Portugal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has cancelled a visit to Spain and Portugal, authorities said on Wednesday, with CNN Portugal and other media reporting it was because of renewed fighting in his country.

King Felipe of Spain has been due to hold a reception for Mr Zelensky on May 17 and host a meal in his honour.

Mr Zelensky had also been expected to sign a bilateral security cooperation agreement with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez following a joint declaration by Nato last year.

A spokesperson for the Portuguese government said the Ukraine president had cancelled the visit but did not give a reason.

The Spanish government said it could not comment for security reasons.

Alongside other European Union countries, Spain committed to support Ukraine with financial and military aid after Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Mr Zelensky’s planned visit was due to coincide with an European Union pledge of long-term security support for Kyiv, according to a draft document.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky met with US Secretary of State Blinken in Kyiv on Tuesday
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky met with US Secretary of State Blinken in Kyiv on Tuesday (EPA)
Tom Watling15 May 2024 08:22


Defying West, Putin set to meet Xi in Beijing

Vladimir Putin’s Beijing visit starting tomorrow is likely to be light on hard deals but will mark the start of his new presidential term with a show of support from his most powerful political partner, Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Putin’s two-day mission is expected to highlight the pair’s vaunted “no limits” partnership in defiance from pressure from the United States over Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Putin’s trip yesterday, saying Xi and Putin would exchange views on ties and “international and regional issues of common concern”.

While diplomats and analysts expect Putin to push Xi for further support for Russia’s war economy, from machines and chemicals to help its military industries to more discounted oil and gas purchases, Putin’s trip is likely to be heavily symbolic of a shared world view centred on countering a US-led order.

“China is Russia’s strategic partner – this is the path chosen by the president of Russia and the leader of China – and nothing is going to change that no matter what the West tries to say or do,” a Russian official said on condition of anonymity.

In an interview with China’s news agency Xinhua published early today, Putin backed China’s plan for a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis, saying Beijing had a full understanding of what lay behind it.

“In Beijing, they truly understand its root causes and its global geopolitical meaning,” Putin said, according to a Russian language transcript published on a Kremlin website.

Putin will also discuss economic ties with China’s premier Li Qiang and visit Harbin, a northeast city with historic Russian connections.

Putin’s arrival follows a mission to Beijing late last month from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in part to warn China’s top diplomat Wang Yi against deepening military support for Russia.

Arpan Rai15 May 2024 07:28


Ukraine grid operator imposes fresh power cuts amid Russian attacks

Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenergo rolled out new controlled country-wide power cuts starting today amid Russian attacks on the war-hit nation’s energy infrastructure.

Ukraine is witnessing power shortages due to the damage caused to generating capacity from recent Russian missile strikes.

The power cuts will be implemented between 6.40am to 9am local time, Ukrenergo said.

This follows cuts that took place across Ukraine yesterday evening.

Arpan Rai15 May 2024 07:26


AP gets rare look as Ukraine tries to slow Russia with drones on new front

From the sky, the Ukrainian drone unit commander had a bird’s-eye view of Russia’s renewed offensive playing out in the country’s war-ravaged northeast.

Enemy forces have captured a string of Ukrainian villages over the past few days after opening a new front along the border with the Russian region of Belgorod. In the village of Strilecha, long depopulated due to its proximity to the border, a Russian infantry unit rolled in with ease, said one drone operator.

“I saw that the infantry just walked into the village,” said Borchik. “There were a lot of them.” Members of the unit spoke on the condition that only their call signs be used in line with Ukrainian military protocols.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 07:00


Why is Putin targeting Ukraine’s Vovchansk town in Kharkiv?

Russia’s invasion has abruptly returned to Ukraine’s northern Kharkiv region in full force this month, and Ukrainian military officials believe Vladimir Putin is likely to throw more reserves into the fight for the border area.

Moscow had already committed all the troops it had in the vicinity for the Kharkiv operation, Kyiv’s military spy chief Kyrylo Budanov said, adding that Russia has other reserve forces that he expected to be used in the coming days.

“As of yesterday evening, a rapid trend towards a stabilisation of the situation had emerged – that is, the enemy is, in principle, already blocked at the lines that it was able to reach,” he said in televised comments.

It is unlikely that Russia has the required troop strength to capture Kharkiv city itself, top Ukrainian officials said.

Experts say that the fight for the smaller Vovchansk is instead the most important battle in the new Russian push, as it looks to capture the town some 45km from Kharkiv city centre.

“If Russia wants to go further south, Vovchansk needs to be captured. In this town, Ukraine is putting up a fight, and it seems that stronger Ukrainian defences are starting to appear around 6-8 km from the border in other places too,” said Emil Kastehelmi, an open-source intelligence analyst with Black Bird Group.

The town, as of today, is “almost destroyed”, said Tamaz Gambarashvili, head of Vovchansk’s military administration. “It’s completely under (Kyiv’s) control, but there are small groups that try to enter the outskirts of the city, so there is a shooting battle,” he said.

Arpan Rai15 May 2024 06:54


Russia hit residential areas in Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Russia carried out a series of air strikes on residential areas in the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, local officials said, injuring at least 20 people.

One of the sites hit was a 20-storey building in the city centre, emergency services said. Earlier, officials had said it was a 12-storey building. Regional prosecutors said Russia had used its new guided UMPB D-30 bombs in that attack.

At another site, at least 15 garages near to a residential building caught fire after being struck by the guided bombs, the prosecutors added.

“Twenty people were injured and had an acute stress reaction,” the prosecutors said on the Telegram messaging app. Three children were among them.

Oleh Syniehubov, the regional governor, said Russia had struck residential areas of Kharkiv city seven times throughout the day.

“Someone’s home was here, where a pile of stones is now. Until Russia destroyed it,” Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram, posting an image from one of the sites.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 06:00


US Secretary of State Blinken performs ‘Rockin in the Free World’ on guitar in Kyiv bar

In a bar in Kyiv, America’s top diplomat used a guitar to deliver a message for Ukraine and the world with a performance of a classic tune by Canadian-American singer Neil Young.

Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to the war-torn Ukrainian capital this week as a show of continued support for the US ally amid intensified Russian missile attacks. On Tuesday, he took to the stage at a basement watering hole called Barman Dictat to perform with a band called 19.99.

The song? Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World”.

Before taking the stage, Mr Blinken told the crowd at the bar that he recognized Ukrainian forces and citizens were still suffering and pledged support from the US and the rest of the world.

“Your soldiers, your citizens — particularly in the northeast, in Kharkiv — are suffering tremendously. But they need to know — you need to know — the United States is with you, so much of the world is with you and they’re fighting not just for a free Ukraine, but for the free world. And the free world is with you, too,” he said.

Arpan Rai15 May 2024 05:53


Ukraine launches major attack with US missiles on occupied Crimea

Russian forces claim they have averted a massive Ukrainian air attack on the Crimean port city Sevastopol and over the Black Sea overnight.

The Russian defence ministry said it destroyed 10 US-provided long-range missiles, known as ATACMS, that Ukraine’s military launched overnight towards occupied Crimea.

Another nine attack drones were destroyed over the Belgorod region, the ministry said.

The Russian defence ministry said five attack drones were also destroyed over Russia’s Kursk region and three over the Bryansk region.

In Crimea, Russia-installed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said “several air objects” were destroyed by Russia’s air defence systems over the region in the early hours today.

He claimed no one was injured, citing preliminary information. The scale of the attack and the extent of the damage were not immediately known.

Ukraine does not typically comment on its operations against regions within Russia or the Crimea Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014.

Arpan Rai15 May 2024 05:51


Russian fuel depot under attack, explosions reported

A drone attack in Russia has caused two blasts at a fuel depot in Rostov region, local governor Vasily Golubev said today.

There were no injuries and no fire as a result of the attack, he said on his Telegram channel.

Last month, a similar attack had blown up an oil pipeline at a Russian military facility in Rostov’s village of Azov. The pipeline was reportedly transporting petroleum products from a local oil depot to tankers in the port area of the Azov Sea port.

Arpan Rai15 May 2024 05:24


Putin will be made to pay to rebuild Ukraine, says US secretary of state

Antony Blinken said on Tuesday (14 May) that what Vladimir Putin has destroyed in Ukraine, Russia “should and must pay” to rebuild, as he confirmed the US intends to use its power to seize Russian assets.

“We’re working with our G7 partners to see that Russia’s immobilised sovereign assets are used to remedy the damage that Putin continues to cost,” the US secretary of state said in a speech from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

Mr Blinken added that making Russia pay for the damage is “what international law demands and what the Ukrainian people deserve”.

Putin will be made to pay to rebuild Ukraine, says US secretary of state
Maryam Zakir-Hussain15 May 2024 05:00