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May 15, 2024 – Russia’s war in Ukraine

May 15, 2024 – Russia’s war in Ukraine
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By Heather Chen, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated

12:02 a.m. ET, May 16, 2024

12:02 a.m. ET, May 16, 2024
5:37 p.m. ET, May 15, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Beijing at the start of a 2-day state visit to China

From CNN’s Abel Alvarado

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing early Thursday morning local time to begin a two-day state visit to China, according to TASS and Chinese state media CCTV.

1:57 p.m. ET, May 15, 2024

Russia is stepping up disinformation campaign against Zelensky, US intelligence shows

From CNN’s Alex Marquardt

Russia has stepped up its disinformation efforts to discredit Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and raise questions about his legitimacy in recent months, US intelligence agencies have observed.

A recently downgraded intelligence assessment shared with CNN says that Russia has seized on various recent events to fuel criticism about Zelensky’s abilities and place as Ukraine’s leader, a senior Biden administration official said in an interview.

Russia has spread disinformation about Zelensky since before the war started but recent intelligence shows “it’s definitely increasing,” the official said.

Russia has highlighted two main areas in this recent disinformation push, the intelligence indicates: Ukraine’s painful withdrawal from the eastern city of Avdiivka and the fact that Ukraine postponed its presidential election scheduled for this Spring due to the war.

Wider impacts: The US is more concerned about the impact of the disinformation on countries abroad than on Ukrainians’ confidence in Zelensky, the official said.

“That’s why we’re briefing our allies and partners about this,” the official said. “We want to make sure that this type of Russian disinformation doesn’t take hold and other countries that might not realize, ‘Oh, of course, they can’t hold elections because they’re in a state of martial law as a consequence of Russia’s war.’”

Dive deeper into Russia’s disinformation campaign and what it could mean.

12:43 p.m. ET, May 15, 2024

Blinken visits Kyiv and reaffirms US support for Ukraine as fighting in Kharkiv intensifies. Here’s the latest

From CNN staff

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) leaves after his visit to an agricultural logistics and transshipment facility in Vyshneve, Kyiv region, on May 15. The United States will back Ukraine until the country's security is
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) leaves after his visit to an agricultural logistics and transshipment facility in Vyshneve, Kyiv region, on May 15. The United States will back Ukraine until the country’s security is “guaranteed,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech in Kyiv on May 14. Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his trip to Kyiv on Wednesday, where he reaffirmed the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine as Russia’s advances continue in the Kharkiv region of the country.

Earlier Wednesday, Blinken announced $2 billion in foreign military financing for Ukraine and said much-needed ammunition and weapons are being rushed to the front lines. The US State Department acknowledged that the $2 billion in foreign military financing is coming primarily from the recently passed Ukraine Security supplemental and $400 million of it is coming from existing Foreign Military Financing (FMF) that had not previously been allocated to Ukraine.

Blinken also said that the US remains “committed” to helping Ukraine win the war against Russia, but it is not encouraging strikes on Russian territory. Blinken added that Washington strongly supports a Ukrainian peace summit set to take place next month in Switzerland. 

Here are more of the latest headlines:

  • Kharkiv and Russian gains: Ukrainian officials suggested further gains by Russian forces on Wednesday in the Kharkiv region, as Moscow continues its push into northeastern Ukraine. The town of Vovchansk, located about 60 kilometers (or about 37 miles) northeast of Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, is seeing some of the most intense battles in areas near the border, with one police official saying Russian forces are already in the town.
  • Zelensky: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will halt all international events scheduled for the coming days, his office announced, as Russian troops push into the northeastern Kharkiv region.
  • UNICEF report: At least 1,993 children in Ukraine have been killed or wounded since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022, according to the UN’s children’s agency (UNICEF), reiterating calls for a ceasefire. On average, at least two children lose their lives in Ukraine every day, UNICEF reported on Tuesday.
11:27 a.m. ET, May 15, 2024

US not encouraging Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory, Blinken says 

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in London 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 15.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 15. Alina Smutko/Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US remains “committed” to helping Ukraine win the war against Russia, but it is not encouraging strikes on Russian territory. 

“We’ve not encouraged or enabled strikes outside Ukraine but ultimately Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war, a war it’s conducting in defense of its freedom, of its sovereignty, of its territorial integrity and we’ll continue to back Ukraine with the equipment it needs to succeed,” Blinken said on Wednesday during a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minster Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv. 

Blinken also announced that the US will provide an additional $2 billion in foreign military financing for Ukraine, adding “we put this together in a first-of-its-kind defense enterprise fund.”

The fund will have three components, Blinken said, including:

  • Providing weapons for Ukraine now
  • Investing in Ukraine’s defense industrial base
  • Financing military equipment purchases from other countries

“Of course, everyone’s eyes are focused on the situation in the east and northeast, Kharkiv in particular. And so the newest support that I just announced, but particularly the $60 billion supplemental, we know is coming at a critical time,” Blinken said. 

10:51 a.m. ET, May 15, 2024

Zelensky condemns shooting of Slovakia’s pro-Russian prime minister

Rescue workers take Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, to a hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, on May 15.
Rescue workers take Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was shot and injured, to a hospital in the town of Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, on May 15. Jan Kroslak/TASR/AP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called a shooting attack on Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico “appalling.”

“We strongly condemn this act of violence against our neighboring partner state’s head of government. Every effort should be made to ensure that violence does not become the norm in any country, form, or sphere,” Zelensky wrote in a post on X Wednesday.

Fico was shot multiple times, according to a statement on his official Facebook page, adding he is currently in a life-threatening condition.

“We sincerely hope Robert Fico recovers soon and express our solidarity with the people of Slovakia,” Zelensky continued.

For context: Fico won a third term as Slovakian prime minister last October after running a campaign that criticized Western support for Ukraine. Ahead of the election, Fico made no secret of his sympathies toward the Kremlin and blamed “Ukrainian Nazis and fascists” for provoking Vladimir Putin into launching the invasion, repeating the false narrative Russia’s president has used to justify his invasion.

Fico, who began his fourth term last October, has shifted Slovakia’s foreign policy toward pro-Russian positions and initiated reforms in criminal law and media regulations, raising concerns about the erosion of the rule of law.

Fico also had pledged an immediate end to Slovak military support for Ukraine and promised to block Ukraine’s NATO ambitions in what would upend Slovakia’s staunch backing for Ukraine.

10:13 a.m. ET, May 15, 2024

Ukrainian officials suggest there are more Russian gains amid ongoing push in Kharkiv region 

From CNN’s Radina Gigova and Maria Kostenko 

Rescue workers help Liudmila Kalashnik, 88, after evacuation from Vovchansk, Ukraine, on May 12.
Rescue workers help Liudmila Kalashnik, 88, after evacuation from Vovchansk, Ukraine, on May 12. Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

Ukrainian officials suggested further gains by Russian forces on Wednesday in the Kharkiv region, as Moscow continues its push into northeastern Ukraine.

The town of Vovchansk, located about 60 kilometers (or about 37 miles) northeast of Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, is seeing some of the most intense battles in areas near the border, with one police official saying Russian forces are already in the town. 

“The situation in Vovchansk is extremely difficult. The enemy is taking positions on the streets of Vovchansk,” said Oleksii Kharkivskyi, chief patrol officer of the Vovchansk Police Department, urging residents to evacuate. 

Gen. Serhii “Marcel” Melnyk, the commander of the Kharkiv city defense forces, also suggested there have been changes in Ukrainian positions in Vovchansk and a possible tactical withdrawal. 

“Heavy fighting is ongoing. In some areas, near Vovchansk and Lukiantsi, Ukrainian defenders were forced to move to more favorable positions to more effectively use their forces and defend the region from the offensive,” Melnyk said Wednesday. 

At least 24 people, including four children, were injured as a result of Russian shelling in various parts of the Kharkiv region on Wednesday, Melnyk said.

The Ukrainian monitoring group DeepStateMap indicated on Wednesday that Russian forces have reached northeastern parts of Vovchansk as they continue to push further south into Ukrainian territory. Russian forces have taken control of more than nine villages near the border in recent days. 

Mandatory evacuations continue from all northern border settlements, according to Roman Semenukha, deputy head of Kharkiv Regional Military Administration. Nearly 8,000 people have been evacuated from these areas since May 10, when Russia launched its push. 

11:21 a.m. ET, May 15, 2024

Nearly 2,000 children have been killed or injured since Russia invaded Ukraine, says UNICEF

From CNN’s Sana Noor Haq

ODESA, UKRAINE - APRIL 27, 2022 - Relatives and friends attend the funeral service of Valeriia Hlodan, her three-month-old baby girl Kira and her mother Liudmyla Yavkina at Transfiguration Cathedral, Odesa, Ukraine, on April 27.
ODESA, UKRAINE – APRIL 27, 2022 – Relatives and friends attend the funeral service of Valeriia Hlodan, her three-month-old baby girl Kira and her mother Liudmyla Yavkina at Transfiguration Cathedral, Odesa, Ukraine, on April 27. Nina Liashonok/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images

At least 1,993 children in Ukraine have been killed or wounded since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022, according to the UN’s children’s agency (UNICEF), reiterating calls for a ceasefire.

On average, at least two children lose their lives in Ukraine every day, UNICEF reported on Tuesday.

“Ukraine’s children urgently need safety, stability, access to safe learning, child protection services, and psychosocial support,” the agency said in a statement. “More than anything, Ukraine’s children need peace.”

Mental health impact: The war in Ukraine has “harmfully affected” the mental health and wellbeing of children, UNICEF said, adding that half of teenagers report trouble sleeping. At least one in five suffer intrusive thoughts and flashbacks.

Loss of education: Almost half of children enrolled in school in Ukraine have been robbed of in-person education, according to the report. Nearly one million children across the country cannot access any in-person learning “due to insecurity,” UNICEF added.

Earlier this year, CNN reported on Ukrainian children attending newly built bunker schools in the northern city of Kharkiv, as daily Russian strikes rained down overhead.

9:07 a.m. ET, May 15, 2024

US secretary of state announces $2 billion in foreign military financing for Ukraine

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in London

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hold a joint press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 15.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hold a joint press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 15. Alina Smutko/Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday the provision of additional $2 billion in foreign military financing for Ukraine and said much-needed weapons and ammunition are being rushed to the front lines. 

“Ukraine is facing this renewed brutal Russian onslaught,” Blinken said during a news conference in Kyiv, speaking alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, adding he discussed weapons deliveries with Kuleba and President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

“We are rushing ammunition, armored vehicles, missiles, air defenses. Rushing them to get to the front lines to protect soldiers, to protect civilians,” Blinken said, pointing out that air defenses are “a top priority.”

Blinken also said Washington strongly supports a Ukrainian peace summit set to take place next month in Switzerland. 

This post has been updated with the latest comments from Blinken.

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