Ukraine Daily Summary - Wednesday, May 15 2024

48 hours in Kharkiv, Ukraine's most-bombed major city -- Budanov sees stabilization signs in Kharkiv Oblast hostilities -- Budanov expects Russia to launch new attack on Sumy Oblast after Kharkiv front stabilized -- Two volunteers in Vovchansk reported as missing, allegedly shot by Russian troops -- and more

Wednesday, May 15

Russia’s war against Ukraine

An injured elderly man looks on following a Russian air strike on May 14, 2024 near Kharkiv that injured at least 21 people, including three children. (Vlada Liberova/Libkos/Getty Images)

Blinken emphasizes long-term US security commitment to Ukraine in visit to Kyiv. “If Russia or anyone else were to attack Ukraine, we will work with Ukraine immediately at the highest levels to coordinate how to help you beat back the threat,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Zelensky to Blinken: Ukraine needs 2 Patriots to protect Kharkiv Oblast. Ukraine’s head of state said that Ukrainian defenders went through a “tough period” in the east of the country, stressing that Kyiv hopes to see the U.S. assistance arriving as soon as possible, Ukrinform reported.

EU Council approves Ukraine Plan needed for $54 billion support program. The approval of the plan will allow the European Commission to disburse up to 1.89 billion euros ($2 billion) in an additional pre-financing tranche until the start of regular payments tied to the implementation of the reforms.

Latvia to allocate additional $11 million for Czech-led initiative to buy artillery shells for Ukraine. Latvian Defense Minister Andris Spruds said additional funds would allow the allies to buy over 3,000 rounds of 155 mm shells.

Ukraine introduces emergency power cuts throughout country amid ‘significant’ shortage. Ukraine’s state-owned energy operator Ukrenergo said it had to introduce additional restrictions due to the damage from the recent Russian strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure and the increase in electricity consumption after the temperature drop.

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General Staff: Ukrainian soldiers ‘change positions’ near Lukiantsi village in Kharkiv Oblast. The Ukrainian troops “changed positions” near the village of Lukiantsi in Kharkiv Oblast “to save the lives” of their soldiers, Ukraine’s General Staff reported on May 14.

Budanov sees stabilization signs in Kharkiv Oblast hostilities. Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov’s statement came after he reportedly told the New York Times a day before that the situation in the region “was on the edge” and “moved toward critical every hour.”

Budanov expects Russia to launch new attack on Sumy Oblast. Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov expects that after Ukrainian forces stabilize the front in Kharkiv Oblast, Russia will launch a new attack in Sumy Oblast, the New York Times (NYT) reported on May 14.

Russian media: Russian Defense Ministry personnel chief Kuznetsov detained. Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetsov, the head of the main personnel directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry, was detained on May 13 on criminal charges, the state-owned news agency TASS reported, citing undisclosed law enforcement sources.

Designated Russian defense minister vows to further integrate economy, military. Integrating the military with Russia’s economy is a key task for its Defense Ministry, soon-to-be-appointed Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov told the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, on May 14.

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Ukraine war latest: 30,000 Russian troops involved in Kharkiv Oblast offensive, Ukrainian official says.

More than 30,000 Russian troops are carrying out a renewed offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Lytvynenko said in an interview with AFP published on May 13.

Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

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48 hours in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s most-bombed major city.

Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second-largest city after Kyiv, currently home to around 1.3 million people. Heavily damaged but never captured during the first days of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, the city and surrounding oblast are now once again the focus of Russian attacks.

Photo: Yakiv Liashenko / The Kyiv Independent

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Human cost of war

Russian air strikes on Kharkiv injure 21 people, including 3 children. Russian forces attacked Kharkiv with the UMPB D-30 type of bombs, according to the Kharkiv Oblast Prosecutor’s Office.

Russian assault on Vovchansk kills 2 elderly civilians. Russia’s offensive on Vovchansk in northern Kharkiv Oblast killed two civilians aged 80 and 83, Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported on May 14.

Two volunteers in Vovchansk reported as missing, allegedly shot by Russian troops. Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigative department of the regional police, wrote on Facebook that preliminary information indicates that the two could have been shot by the Russian military.

Russian attacks against Ukraine kill 3, injure 18 over past day. Russia targeted a total of 10 Ukrainian oblasts — Sumy, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, Odesa, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson. Casualties were reported in the latter four regions.

Death toll in Belgorod apartment building collapse reportedly rises to 16. At least 16 people were killed in the Russian city of Belgorod after an apartment building collapsed on May 12, Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry claimed on May 14.

Over 7,500 civilians evacuated from northern Kharkiv Oblast. Of the 7,531 people who have been evacuated so far, 568 are children, and 201 are people with disabilities, Syniehubov said.

Russian attacks on Sumy Oblast injure 1 person. Russian forces attacked 13 communities in Sumy Oblast on May 14, injuring one person, the Sumy Oblast Military Administration reported.

Kharkiv Oblast town faces annihilation as Russia opens new front

International response

US State Department does not anticipate Russian breakthrough toward Kharkiv. The U.S. State Department does “not anticipate any major breakthroughs” by Russia toward Kharkiv, but Russia may “make further advances in the coming weeks,” Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a press briefing on May 13.

‘We will never force Ukraine to accept peace treaty,’ says UK defense secretary. The comments follow reporting by the Sunday Times that U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron had allegedly personally pitched a peace plan to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Georgian parliament passes ‘foreign agents’ bill in final reading. Georgia’s parliament on May 14 passed the controversial “foreign agents” bill in its third and final reading.

White House: If ‘foreign agents’ bill passes, US will be compelled to ‘reassess’ relationship with Georgia. If Tbilisi’s proposed foreign agents bill is ultimately approved by Georgia’s parliament, the U.S. would be compelled “to fundamentally reassess” its relationship with Georgia, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on May 14.

FT: Moldova, EU to sign security pact. Moldova and the EU intend to sign a security agreement in the next week, increasing cooperation in the spheres of defense, cyber threats, and foreign interference to “unprecedented levels,” the Financial Times reported on May 14.

Putin to visit China on May 16-17, meet Xi. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit China on May 16-17 to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, RIA Novosti reported on May 14, citing the Kremlin press service.

Estonian defense minister: No new development on idea to send troops to Ukraine. The Estonian government has held no specific discussions on sending the country’s troops to Ukraine, Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said on May 14, according to public broadcaster ERR.

Poll: 50% of Ukrainians in Poland, Germany, Czechia, say they are ‘less likely to return’ to Ukraine. The poll found that 66% of respondents said they were “completely” or “rather satisfied” with their lives in the countries.

In other news

Freight train derailed in Russia’s Volgograd Oblast due to alleged ‘interference.’ Several cars of a freight train in Russia’s Volgograd Oblast were derailed due to “interference by unauthorized persons,” the Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported on May 14, citing a statement from the Russian railway services.

Governor: 6 children brought back from Russian-occupied territory. Save Ukraine, a Ukrainian humanitarian NGO, rescued six more children from Russian-occupied territory, Kherson Oblast Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on May 14.

Government appoints acting ministers of agriculture, infrastructure. The Ukrainian government has appointed on May 14 Taras Vysotskyi and Vasyl Shkurakov as the acting agriculture and infrastructure ministers, respectively, Taras Melnychuk, the government’s representative in parliament, said.

National Bank: Ukraine’s losses from Polish blockade partially offset by maritime trade. Losses caused by the Polish blockade of the Ukrainian border amounted to $500 million in lost imports and $160 million in exports in its first month, the National Bank of Ukraine said on May 14.

Kuleba says narrative that ‘Ukraine rejected peace deal’ is ‘lie promoted by Russia.’ Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russia is intent on pushing this unsubstantiated narrative because it wants to “shift the blame for the war…to Ukraine.”

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