Russia Ukraine War Top Updates May 19th: Ukrainian troops shelled a border village in Russia’s western region of Kursk on Thursday morning, killing at least one civilian, regional governor Roman Starovoit said. Starovoit took to messaging app Telegram and said that the shells hit an alcohol factory in the village of Tyotkino and several other buildings. As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 85th day today, FE Online brings you the top key updates from the war torn area. Here are the key developments:
– Russia on Thursday said that nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters have surrendered in Mariupol, although a pro-Russian separatist leader has said that top Ukrainian commanders are still holed up in tunnels beneath the giant Azovstal steelworks. Russia has claimed that a total of 959 Ukrainian fighters, including 80 wounded, had surrendered from the bunkers and tunnels below Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks since Monday.
– Ukraine said it ordered the Mariupol garrison to stand down but has declined to comment on the fate of the fighters. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s territorial defence force said its fighters had blown up an armoured train carrying Russian troops, but an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelinskiy later said the attack had been confined to rails near the train.
– Finland and Sweden formally applied for NATO membership on Wednesday, a decision made in the wake of the Ukrainian invasion and the very kind of expansion that Putin cited as a reason for attacking Ukraine. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that President Joe Biden has welcomed the applications, and he looks forward to working with NATO Allies and with Congress on a swift accession process. Biden will welcome the President of Finland and Sweden PM on Thursday to the White House to coordinate on the path forward.
– The US Senate has confirmed Bridget Brink as the US ambassador to Ukraine as officials plan to return American diplomats to Kyiv. Brink who has spent most of her career in the shadow of the former Soviet Union, was nominated to the position last month by President Joe Biden. She was confirmed unanimously by the Senate without a formal roll call vote. American diplomats evacuated Kyiv when the war began three months ago, but the U.S. reopened the embassy on Wednesday. The ambassador’s post has been vacant since former President Donald Trump abruptly forced out Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in 2019.
– The United States has re-opened its embassy in Ukraine three months after withdrawing American diplomats from Kyiv ahead of Russia’s invasion in February. US diplomats are now returning on permanent basis to Kyiv from where they had been temporarily relocated to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv and neighboring Poland.
– The first Russian soldier who was captured by Ukraine and was put on trial for war-crime charges, has pleaded guilty to killing a civilian. The soldier could reportedly get life in prison.
– The US has gathered intelligence that shows some Russian officials have become concerned that Russian forces in the ravaged port city of Mariupol are carrying out grievous abuses, a U.S official familiar with the findings told Associated Press on Wednesday. The Russian officials are concerned that the abuses will backfire and further inspire Mariupol residents to resist the Russian occupation.
– President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly address to the nation on Wednesday said that Russia has already fired more than 2,000 missiles during its attack on Ukraine, which he said was a large part of its arsenal. He said the majority of the missiles hit civilian infrastructure and brought no strategic military benefit.
(With Agency Inputs)