Russia-Ukraine war: airstrikes target Mykolaiv and Donbas regions – live

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has extended the country’s martial law for three months through to August 22.

Mr Zelenskiy first signed the decree along with a general military mobilisation call on February 24 when Russian forces invaded.

Ukraine’s parliament on Sunday voted by an absolute majority for the third extension of the decree as Russia pursues its offensive targeting the eastern Donbas region, reports AFP.

Poland’s president Duda and Ukrainian president Zelenskiy walk at a street in Kyiv on Sunday.
Poland’s president Duda and Ukrainian president Zelenskiy walk at a street in Kyiv on Sunday. Photograph: Jakub Szymczuk/POLISH PRESIDENCY/Reuters

Olena Zelenska has given a rare interview with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, only their second public appearance together since Russia launched its invasion.

She recounts the ‘anxiety and stupor’ she felt on 24 February, and says that even though she has barely seen her husband since ‘no one, not even the war, could take him away’ from her.

Ukraine’s first lady: ‘Nobody takes my husband away from me’ – video

Isobel Koshiw

My colleague Isobel Koshiw is reporting from Zhytomyr region, which shares a border with Belarus. She reports:

Ukrainian forces have built a new line of defences along the country’s previously unfortified northern border with Belarus amid signs of another attack.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine through the Belarusian border in February when they tried to capture the capital, Kyiv.

On 10 May, Belarus’s army chief, Viktor Gulevich, announced the deployment of Belarusian special forces and equipment in response to what he described as a “southern threat” from Ukraine and Nato. Belarus has been conducting military drills its border with Ukraine since early May.

Belarusian President, Aleksandr Lukashenko, has been Russia’s closest ally in its war in Ukraine. On Tuesday, Lukashenko urged the Russian-led military alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, which met in Moscow, to remain united on Ukraine and accused the west of prolonging the conflict.

Read more:

The Polish president Andrzej Duda has been filmed in Kyiv alongside Zelenskiy.

Duda delivered a speech to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada on Sunday. He said: “I will not rest until Ukraine becomes a member of the European Union.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda embraces Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a session of Ukrainian parliament, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues
Polish President Andrzej Duda embraces Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a session of Ukrainian parliament, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues Photograph: Reuters

“Dear Ukrainians, your relatives — wives, parents, children — who were forced to leave for Poland, are not refugees in our country, they are our guests,” said Polish President Duda.

Ukrainians will never forget everything that Poland has been doing for us.pic.twitter.com/jxojvNn1QC

— Oleksiy Sorokin (@mrsorokaa) May 22, 2022

Martin Chulov

Martin Chulov

Technicians linked to the Syrian military’s infamous barrel bombs that have wreaked devastation across much of the country have been deployed to Russia to help potentially prepare for a similar campaign in the Ukraine war, European officials believe.

Intelligence officers say more than 50 specialists, all with vast experience in making and delivering the crude explosive, have been in Russia for several weeks working alongside officials from Vladimir Putin’s military.

Their arrival is understood to be one factor behind US and European warnings that the Russian military may have been preparing for the use of chemical weapons in the conflict, which has entered its fourth month with little sign of slowing.

Read more here:

Today so far

Here is everything you might have missed:

  • Russian airstrikes hit Ukrainian forces in the Mykolaiv and Donbas regions, targeting command centres, troops, and ammunition depots, the Russian defence ministry said on Sunday. Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the defence ministry, said air-launched missiles hit three command points and four ammunition depots in the Donbas, Reuters reported. In Ukraine’s southern region of Mykolaiv, Russian rockets struck a mobile anti-drone system near the settlement of Hannivka, about 100km north-east of Mykolaiv city, Konashenkov said.
  • Ukraine’s Severodonetsk is one of Russia’s ‘immediate tactical priorities’, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said on Sunday. The city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region is one of Russia’s “immediate tactical priorities” as its forces deploy terminator tanks to the area, the MoD has said. The latest intelligence report, released at 7am BST, said: “Russia’s only operational company of BMP-T Terminator tank support vehicles has likely been deployed to the Severodonetsk axis of the Donbas offensive. Their presence suggests that the Central Grouping of Forces (CGF) is involved in this attack, which is the only formation fielding this vehicle. CGF previously suffered heavy losses while failing to break through to eastern Kyiv in the first phase of the invasion.Russia developed Terminator after identifying the need to provide dedicated protection to main battle tanks it used during the Afghan and Chechen wars.”
  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russia of blocking export of 22m tonnes of food. The Ukrainian president also said that an energy crisis would swiftly follow a food crisis if Ukraine was not given help to unlock its ports.
  • The city of Severodonetsk has been attacked from ‘four separate directions’, says region’s governor. Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, said Russian forces had not succeeded in breaking into the city, despite targeting it from four different directions.
  • Only Ukraine has the right to decide its future, the Polish president told lawmakers in Kyiv on Sunday. Andrzej Duda said:”Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands. Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future … nothing about you without you. Duda became the first foreign leader to give a speech in person to the Ukrainian parliament since Russia’s invasion.
  • Russia’s state gas company, Gazprom, halted gas exports to Finland, which refused Moscow’s demands to pay in roubles for Russian gas after western countries imposed sanctions over the invasion. Gasum, Finland’s state-owned energy company, said it would use other sources, such as the Balticconnector pipeline, which links Finland to fellow EU member Estonia.
  • Ukraine has suggested it is willing to resume talks with Russia. Speaking on Saturday, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that “discussions between Ukraine and Russia will undoubtedly take place … under what format I don’t know … but the war will be bloody, there will be fighting and [it] will only definitively end through diplomacy.” He added: “We want everything back. And the Russian Federation doesn’t want to return anything. That’s why the ending will be at the negotiating table.”
  • However, Kyiv has ruled out a ceasefire or concessions to Moscow. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Russia that involved ceding territory. “Any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years. Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty, nor territories and Ukrainians living on them,” he said in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday. Making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting, he added. “The war will not stop [after concessions]. It will just be put on pause for some time. They’ll start a new offensive, even more bloody and large-scale.”
  • Russia claims to have taken full control of the besieged city of Mariupol. The last group of Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the smashed Azovstal steelworks have surrendered, Russia’s defence ministry said late on Friday, marking an end to the three-month siege of the defenders’ last stronghold in Mariupol. “Underground structures of Azovstal where militants were hiding are now under full control of Russian armed forces,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that in total 2,439 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered.
  • Moscow is considering giving up Ukraine fighters captured in Mariupol for Viktor Medvedchuk, a detained ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “We are going to study the possibility,” said Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating team on Ukraine, speaking from the separatist city of Donetsk in south-eastern Ukraine, Russian state media agency RIA Novosti reported.
  • Zelenskiy described the situation in Donbas as “extremely difficult” in his latest national address, adding that the Russian army is trying to attack Slovyansk and Severodonetsk, a frontline city now at risk of encirclement where 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded by Russian shelling, regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said.

Germany’s reliance on Russian gas is providing a backdrop for chancellor Olaf Scholz’s first trip to Africa.

He is embarking on a three-day tour of Senegal, Niger and South Africa kicking off on Sunday. The first stop on Scholz’s trip is Senegal, which has billions of cubic metres of gas reserves and is expected to become a major gas producer in the region.

Germany is seeking to reduce its heavy reliance on Russia for gas following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. It could help explore a gas field in Senegal, a government official said on Friday.

The source told Reuters that Scholz also wanted to discuss possible cooperation on the development of renewable energy.

In Senegal, he will visit a solar power plant after meeting and holding a joint news conference with the country’s President Macky Sall.

Germany has invited both Senegal, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the African Union, and South Africa to attend the G7 summit it is hosting in June as guest countries.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz gestures during a news conference with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on May 20, 2022
German chancellor Olaf Scholz at a news conference with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Friday. Photograph: Annegret Hilse/Reuters

Puppies evacuated from war-torn Kharkiv as fighting increases – video

Puppies evacuated from war-torn Kharkiv as fighting increases – video

Ukraine must decide its own future, says Poland’s president

Only Ukraine has the right to decide its future, the Polish president told lawmakers in Kyiv on Sunday.

Andrzej Duda said:

Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to Putin’s demands. Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future … nothing about you without you.

Duda became the first foreign leader to give a speech in person to the Ukrainian parliament since Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian man drives 3,700km to be reunited with parents and fiancee – who live just 10km away

It is a 10-minute drive from Serhi Belyaev’s house in the village of Tsyrkuny to his fiancee’s home in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city. A quick spin west on Soborna Street, over the E40 motorway on to the Lesia Serduika highway, and you are there. That was, until the war came.

It took just hours for Russian forces to sweep into Belyaev’s village on 24 February, as they advanced on Kharkiv, the closest major Ukrainian city to the Russian border.

Lives across Ukraine were changed that morning. For Belyaev, the frontline of the largest conflict in Europe since the second world war now lay between him and both his girlfriend, Nataliy Drozd, 28, and his parents.

No longer the familiar road into town, Lesia Serduika was now an impassable no man’s land. Belyaev was cut off, worried for his sick mother, Galina, 66, and determined to be with his terrified girlfriend.

Then Belyaev, 32, a professional poker player, had an idea. A gamble. He mused on it, initially rejected it and then settled on it. He would replace the 10km drive with a 3,700km odyssey.

Read the rest of this incredible story by Daniel Boffey below:

The latest updated map from the Ministry of Defence on the situation in Ukraine:

Russian airstrikes target Mykolaiv and Donbas regions

Russia attacked Ukrainian forces with airstrikes and artillery in the east and the south, targeting command centres, troops, and ammunition depots, the Russian defence ministry said on Sunday.

Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the defence ministry, said air-launched missiles hit three command points and four ammunition depots in the Donbas, Reuters reported.

In Ukraine’s southern region of Mykolaiv, Russian rockets struck a mobile anti-drone system near the settlement of Hannivka, about 100km north-east of Mykolaiv city, Konashenkov said.

He added:

Rockets and artillery hit 583 areas where troops and Ukrainian military equipment amassed, 41 control points, 76 artillery and mortar units in firing positions, including three Grad batteries, as well as a Bukovel Ukrainian electronic warfare station near the settlement of Hannivka, Mykolaiv region.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy accuses Russia of blocking export of 22m tonnes of food

The Ukrainian president also said that an energy crisis would swiftly follow a food crisis if Ukraine was not given help to unlock its ports.

After a meeting with Portuguese prime minister António Costa on Saturday, he told the media:

The world community must help Ukraine unblock seaports, otherwise the energy crisis will be followed by a food crisis and many more countries will face it.

Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food – our grain, barley, sunflower and more. A lot of things.

There will be a crisis in the world. The second crisis after the energy one, which was provoked by Russia. Now it will create a food crisis if we do not unblock the routes for Ukraine, do not help the countries of Africa, Europe, Asia, which need these food products.

He added that one way to unblock the ports would be via a military solution that would involve procuring further weapons from allies.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking during a joint press conference with Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa (not pictured).
Volodymyr Zelensky speaking during a joint press conference with Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa (not pictured). Photograph: Presidential Press Service Handout/EPA

Why do Finland and Sweden want to join Nato?

‘A dangerous neighbour’: why Finland and Sweden want to join Nato – video explainer

Severodonetsk has been attacked from ‘four separate directions’, says region’s governor.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, said Russian forces had not succeeded in breaking into the city, despite targeting it from four different directions.

On the Telegram messaging app, he said:

The Russians tried to enter Sievierodonetsk from 4 directions at once, but they were repelled and retreated to their earlier positions.

However, they continued to shell residential neighbourhoods with mortars and artillery. Almost every Ukrainian-controlled town and village sustained damage.

On Friday, Haidai said that a school that was sheltering more than 200 people, many of them children, was hit, and more than 60 houses were destroyed across the region.

Neither of these accounts could be independently verified.

The city of Severodonetsk was earlier on Saturday morning described as one of Russia’s “immediate tactical priorities”, the UK Ministry of Defence said.

Ukrainian service members rest on a street, in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk region
Ukrainian service members rest on a street, in Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk region. Photograph: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters