War in Ukraine: Latest developments

By: AFP
Published: 08:55 PM, 20 May, 2022
War in Ukraine: Latest developments
Caption: Residents sit with their belongings as they wait to be evacuated from the city of Lysychans’k, eastern Ukraine.
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Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- Russia homes in on Lugansk -

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says Moscow is nearing full control of the separatist region of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

"The liberation of the Lugansk People's Republic is nearing completion," Shoigu says.  

After some 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, now under Moscow's control, Kyiv meanwhile orders its remaining troops holed up there to lay down their arms after nearly three months of desperate resistance.

- 'Hell' in Donbas -

The renewed Russian offensive in Donbas has turned the eastern Ukrainian region into "hell", President Volodymyr Zelensky says.

"In Donbas, the occupiers are trying to increase pressure," Zelensky says.

In his nightly address, he adds: "There's hell, and that's not an exaggeration."

- New Russian bases -

Shoigu also says Moscow will create new military bases in western Russia in response to the expansion of NATO. 

"By the end of the year, 12 military units and divisions will be established in the Western Military District," Shoigu tells a meeting. 

- Soldier's lawyer urges acquittal -

The lawyer for the first Russian soldier on trial in Kyiv says his client is "not guilty" of premeditated murder and war crimes, urging his acquittal, even though he has admitted to killing a civilian.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, at the centre of the first war crimes trial held over the conflict, has said he is "truly sorry" and asked the widow of the Ukrainian civilian he killed for forgiveness.

Ukrainian prosecutors have requested he be given a life sentence.

- 'Brutal' bombardment of Severodonetsk -

The governor of the eastern Lugansk region says at least 12 people have been killed and 40 injured in Russian shelling of the city of Severodonetsk.

Severodonetsk has been the target of sustained bombardment in recent days as Russian forces attempt to capture the easternmost city still in Ukrainian hands.

- German no to EU fund -

Germany's finance minister is ruling out any joint EU borrowing to help cover the massive cost of rebuilding war-scarred Ukraine, after the idea was floated by top European officials.

After chairing G7 talks in Germany that saw countries pledge nearly $20 billion (19 billion euros) in aid to Ukraine, Christian Lindner said there would be no repeat of the EU's landmark post-pandemic recovery fund, known as "Next Generation", that is being financed by common debt.

- Rock star in a hard place -

Soviet rock legend and outspoken Kremlin critic Yuri Shevchuk faces a fine after being charged with "discrediting" the Russian army after condemning Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine during a concert, a court in Ufa, central Russia told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Shevchuk, 65 and a long-time critic of President Putin, told cheering fans: "Now people are being killed in Ukraine. Why? Our guys are dying in Ukraine. Why?"

- US Congress approves $40-billion aid package -

Congress approves a new $40-billion aid package for Ukraine, the latest tranche of US assistance for Kyiv in its fight against Russia's invasion.

It is roundly approved by the Senate after being adopted by the House of Representatives last week.

- Turkey 'determined' to block NATO bids -

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is talking to Western leaders about Turkey's objections to NATO membership for Sweden and Finland, whom he accuses of sheltering Kurdish separatists. 

Russia's war in Ukraine in February has shifted political opinion in both Nordic countries in favour of joining the Western military alliance. 

"We cannot say 'yes' to (Sweden and Finland) ... joining NATO, a security organisation," Erdogan said.

- US, Russia generals speak -

Top US General Mark Milley speaks by telephone with his Russian counterpart General Valery Gerasimov, the Pentagon says, their first discussion since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February.

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, discuss "several security-related issues of concern", according to a US JCS spokesman.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.