May 8, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes, Helen Regan and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT) May 9, 2022
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8:17 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Several dead after civilian convoy escaping fighting near Kharkiv fired on, police say

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

A convoy of civilian vehicles trying to escape fighting near the city of Kharkiv was fired upon, killing several people, the Kharkiv region police said. Others are missing.

Serhiy Bolvinov, chief of the investigation department, said police had lost contact with the convoy a few days ago.

There were 15 cars traveling near the village of Staryi Saltiv, which has seen heavy fighting in recent days as Ukrainian forces launch a counter-attack against the Russians east of Kharkiv.

At the time, the convoy was trying to reach territory controlled by the Ukrainians, Bolvinov said.

"Due to the ongoing combat, it was not possible to reach the place of the column," Bolvinov said.

The wreckage of the convoy was found on Friday, he said. Having arrived at the scene, investigators found a broken enemy tank and the bodies of two Russian soldiers.

A further 300 meters away, six cars with bullet holes were found. Four corpses were found in the cars and, according to Bolvinov, they appeared to be some of the civilians who had been in the convoy.

The remains of a 13-year old girl had been positively identified, he said.

Bolvinov gave no details about what may have happened to other vehicles in the convoy.

3:01 p.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Ukrainians reject Russia’s Victory Day as they rebuild their shattered homes

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz in Kyiv and Rob Picheta in London

Olga Teterska has worked to save what remains of her vegetables and flowers, after Russian forces destroyed her home.
Olga Teterska has worked to save what remains of her vegetables and flowers, after Russian forces destroyed her home. (CNN)

Ukrainians once celebrated Victory Day on May 9, in the Russian tradition. But now, as they piece through the rubble of their homes and mourn lost friends and relatives, many pointedly mark the occasion a day earlier.

"This house, I have lived here for 40 years. Both my kids were born here," Olga Teterska, a 48-year-old accountant from Borodianka, near Kyiv, told CNN as she looked at her destroyed home. "It is impossible to describe with words how I feel being back here and seeing what has happened."

"The flower garden is still growing," she added. "We’ll save the ones we can."

"We celebrated May 9 until 2014," Teterska said. "Now I will only observe May 8 as a day to remember the soldiers who fought and also as a way to be closer to Europe."

The surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 marked the end of the largest land war in Europe until this February, when Russian forces launched an all-out assault on Ukraine.

But the timing of that surrender — late in the evening in Germany, and after midnight in Russia — symbolically split Europe in two, creating separate commemoration days on the continent. 

Most of Europe marks VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) on May 8. But in Russia and a clutch of ex-Soviet states, the anniversary falls on the 9th. In Moscow, it is celebrated with an extravagant military parade and a speech by President Vladimir Putin.

Valentina Torghunshko, a retiree, outside her destroyed home.
Valentina Torghunshko, a retiree, outside her destroyed home. (CNN)

"Now May 8 is more important," Valentina Torghunshko, from Borodianka, told CNN. "May 9 for me is Russia’s day now. It used to be Victory Day but everything has changed now. The Russians want us on our knees."

"When the building was shelled, I was in the bunker," the 68-year-old added, describing the day Russian forces struck her home. "Everything I had is destroyed. I was able to save my cat after. She was without food or water but she is alive."

This year, there are fears the Russian leader will use his Victory Day parade speech to formally declare war on Ukraine. Until now, the Kremlin has euphemistically referred to their invasion as a "special military operation."

That could bring yet more destruction for many in Ukraine’s east, and around the country. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has urged citizens to stay inside from Sunday into Monday, and Western officials have warned the Russian invasion may be ramped up.

Vadim Bozhko, a farmer from the village of Andriivka, said his house was occupied by Russians, then destroyed in shelling as he and his wife hid in the cellar. 

Vladim Bozhko said his son was killed in fighting in April.
Vladim Bozhko said his son was killed in fighting in April. (CNN)

His son was fighting in Ukraine’s military and was killed in April near Hostomel, he told CNN.

"I feel nothing now," he said, reflecting on the significance of May 9.

"It used to be about celebrating the victory of our grandparents. This year there is nothing to celebrate."

"I will always remember what my grandparents did in World War II," he added. "But with what the Russians have done to my son, to my house, I will not celebrate Victory Day."

"To the Russians: Don’t bring your sons here," he warned. "We have nothing left to lose anymore. We will fight you."

12:25 p.m. ET, May 8, 2022

It's 2 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

A school in Bilohorivka, Ukraine was bombed by Russia, on Saturday, May 7.
A school in Bilohorivka, Ukraine was bombed by Russia, on Saturday, May 7. (From Luhansk Regional Governor Serhiy Haidai)

Sixty people are feared dead following an airstrike Saturday on a school in the Luhansk region where 90 people were sheltering, according to a local official. While rescuers are dismantling the debris "as quickly as possible," the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Serhiy Hayday, said the chances of finding anyone still alive -- beyond the 27 survivors already rescued -- are "very small."

Here are the latest developments:

Luhansk school shelter bombing: The bodies of two people were found in the debris of a school building where 90 people were sheltering in Luhansk, Hayday said in a Telegram post Sunday. There are 27 survivors, according to Hayday, and "60 people most likely died." He added that heavy fighting overnight had disrupted the rescue operation.

Azovstal rescue operation: All women, children and elderly people have now been evacuated from Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant complex, the Ukrainian government has said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his government is now preparing for the second stage of the evacuation mission, focusing on "the wounded and medics." They are also working to evacuate Ukrainian military personnel from the plant, which has been blockaded by Russian forces. Zelensky said the government would try to establish humanitarian corridors for all residents of Mariupol and surrounding settlements on Sunday.

G7 meeting with Zelensky: On Sunday, US President Joe Biden will meet virtually with the Ukrainian President and his G7 counterparts during a meeting of the G7 forum, deliberately scheduled ahead of Russia's "Victory Day." Sanctions will be on the agenda for the meeting.

Kyiv warning: The mayor of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv has urged citizens to "be aware" and stay inside Sunday into Monday, around Russia's symbolic annual Victory Day. Western officials have warned that Putin could formally declare war on May 9, allowing him to step up his campaign and mobilize reserves.

Black Sea combat: Both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have claimed successes in what appears to be ongoing combat in the Black Sea, and especially over Russian-occupied Snake Island. Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa region military administration, said Sunday that about 40 Russian soldiers had been killed. The Russian Ministry of Defense gave a very different version of events, claiming to have shot down several Ukrainian aircraft and drones.

Pressure at Izium and Kharkiv: Russian forces have made minor advances on one front near the city of Izium, capturing the northern outskirts of the village of Shandryholove, according to the Ukrainian military. However, it added that they are also on the defensive near Kharkiv as a Ukrainian counter-attack continues.

UK's $1.6 billion package: The UK will provide a further £1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) in military support and aid to Ukraine, according to the country's Treasury. The pledge marks "the highest rate of UK military spending on a conflict, since the height of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan," the Treasury said in a statement. The new pledge almost doubles the UK’s previous spending commitments on the war in Ukraine.

6:20 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Both Ukraine and Russia claim successes in ongoing combat in the Black Sea

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Smoke rises above Snake Island in the Black Sea, on May 8.
Smoke rises above Snake Island in the Black Sea, on May 8. (Planet Labs PBC/AP)

Both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have claimed successes in what appears to be ongoing combat in the Black Sea, and especially over Russian-occupied Snake Island.

Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa region military administration, said Sunday that a Russian helicopter on the island had been struck and destroyed Saturday night. The military released a drone video purportedly showing the strike.

He also said a small landing boat with a capacity of about 80-100 personnel had been eliminated, as well as two Raptor-class patrol boats.

Bratchuk said that, according to preliminary information, about 40 Russian soldiers had been killed.

A satellite image from Sunday morning showed at least one column of smoke rising from the island.

The Russian Ministry of Defense Sunday gave a very different version of events. 

Major General Igor Konashenkov said that, during Saturday night, two more Ukrainian Su-24 bombers and one Mi-24 helicopter of the Ukrainian Air Force were destroyed by Russian air defense systems over the island.

Both sides also reported attacks near the port of Odesa. The Russians said they had taken down a Bayraktar-TB2 combat drone near Odesa, while the Ukrainian military said it had intercepted two cruise missiles launched by Russian aircraft.

Bratchuk said that altogether 10 Russian cruise missiles had been fired at the Odesa region on Saturday. The runway at the main airport had been hit again. A residential district had also been hit.

5:44 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

UK announces additional $1.6 billion in military support for Ukraine, ahead of G7 summit

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London

The UK will provide a further £1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) in military support and aid to Ukraine, the country's Treasury said in a statement.

The announcement comes ahead of a virtual G7 summit on Sunday, which will include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The pledge marks "the highest rate of UK military spending on a conflict, since the height of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to a Treasury statement Saturday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in front of a live video feed showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 5, 2022 in London, England. 
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in front of a live video feed showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 5, 2022 in London, England.  (Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised £300 million ($370 million) of military support to Ukraine, including electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices. The Treasury said this would be funded from the £1.3 billion increase. 

The new pledge almost doubles the UK’s previous spending commitments on the war in Ukraine.

Per the statement, it adds up to Britain’s "existing £1.5 billion ($1.85 billion) support, which included around £400 million ($494 million) in humanitarian aid and grants to the Ukrainian government, and unlocking over £700 million ($864 million) in lending from the World Bank through guarantees."

Johnson and his defense secretary will host a meeting of defense companies later this month "to discuss ramping up production in response to increased demand created by the conflict in Ukraine and a global shift away from Russian-made weaponry," the statement added.

6:00 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Fleeing pregnant women and young mothers arrive at temporary accommodation in western Ukraine

From Taras Zadorozhnyy in Lviv

Tetiana and her daughter outside their new home.
Tetiana and her daughter outside their new home. (CNN)

The intense fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine has forced millions of people to flee to the country’s westernmost regions.

At least 200,000 people have arrived in Lviv alone, according to the city’s mayor Andriy Sadovyi, pushing the city to its limits.

Many locals have opened their homes to the refugees and the city has also recently built two container towns for families who were staying in temporary shelters in schools and sports facilities.

But working with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, Lviv is now constructing two new buildings specifically for pregnant women and mothers of young children.

Away from the city center, the site was chosen in the hope that it will offer some calm to its future residents.

Peace and quiet is what people like Tetiana, who is expecting her fifth child in July, are dreaming of.

She and her husband want to name their son Victor to commemorate the victory they are expecting Ukraine to achieve.

This is not the first time that she and her older children had to run from war. In 2014, the family lived in Horlivka when it became part of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic.

There, hiding in a cellar, she gave birth to her daughter Milana. When the family’s house was destroyed, she moved to Kamianske, to a container shelter much like the one she currently calls home in Lviv.

Architect Anton Kolomieytsev surveils a construction site.
Architect Anton Kolomieytsev surveils a construction site. (CNN)

After four years there, the family moved to Slovyansk, where her husband — who is now fighting for Ukraine on the frontline — got a good job. They dreamt of buying a house and raising their children in peace.

Instead, she is once again sheltering in a container with her children, hundreds of miles away from her husband.

Tetiana says that she has been offered a chance to move to the new buildings as soon as they are ready, potentially in a couple of months' time.

Anton Kolomieytsev, Lviv’s chief architect, said he and his colleagues are trying to think months and years ahead, knowing some refugees will likely stay long-term.

"They have nowhere to go. Many of them will have to stay here even after the end of the war," he said.

Containers are a good temporary solution, but they are expensive. According to Kolomieytsev, one square meter of container housing costs $800, a price that is comparable to the cost of building regular houses.

Kolomieytsev said he wants the city to build apartments which internally displaced people would be able to rent for 10 years for a lower price before having the right to become their owners.

But he says his grand plans will rely on international donors. The public coffers have been completely depleted by the war.

4:44 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Rescue efforts underway, but likelihood of finding survivors of school bombing "very small," official says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

(From Serhiy Hayday)
(From Serhiy Hayday)

A senior official in the Luhansk region has said that the chances of finding anyone still alive inside the school that was sheltering around 90 people when it was bombed by a Russian aircraft on Saturday afternoon are "very small."

Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said the school building was completely destroyed.

"The explosion happened inside the building. Rescuers [are] dismantling the debris as quickly as possible. The chances of finding [anyone still] alive are very small. There were 90 people inside the school building; 27 survived, 60 people most likely died."

The bodies of two people were found in the debris, Hayday said in a Telegram post Sunday.

A Russian aircraft dropped a bomb on the school in the village of Bilohorivka, which is about seven miles from the frontlines, according to Hayday.

The strike hit at around 4:37 p.m. local time on Saturday, causing fires to break out that took almost four hours to extinguish, he said.

Hayday added that heavy fighting overnight had disrupted the rescue operation.

He said fighting had continued into Sunday on several fronts in Luhansk -- including Bilohorivka, Voyevodivka, and Rubizhne. He also said there was an extremely difficult situation around Hirske.

Near Popasna, Russian artillery hit the house where 11 people were hiding in the basement, he said. Rescuers were dismantling the debris.

Hayday said Ukrainian troops had withdrawn a "little way" from Popasna. "Since the city was destroyed, our troops retreated to more fortified positions."

3:58 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

Russians make minor advances but are under pressure around Kharkiv, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Russian forces have made minor advances on one front near the city of Izium, according to the Ukrainian military, but are also on the defensive near Kharkiv as a Ukrainian counter-attack continues.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said Sunday the Russians had captured the northern outskirts of the village of Shandryholove as they try to push south from the Izium area into the Donetsk region.

The enemy concentrated its main efforts on "preparations for the continuation of the offensive" in the area.

Along other front lines there were few changes, the General Staff said, with the Russians using artillery against Ukrainian defenses.

In the Kharkiv area, the General Staff said that the Russians were concentrating on "preventing the further advance of our troops towards the state border of Ukraine to the north and northeast of Kharkiv."

To that end they were shelling villages recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces -- such as Prudyanka and Slatine -- and trying to strengthen their defensive positions.

In the south-west of Ukraine, the armed forces said "the situation remains tense."

They claimed that "armed formations" in the pro-Russian area of Transnistria in Moldova, as well as Russian troops there, are in full combat readiness. Transnistria, a breakaway territory within Moldova, has housed Russian troops for decades.

The General Staff confirmed clashes on Snake Island, a small island off the Romanian and Ukrainian coastline. It said that, during Saturday, one Russian Mi-28H helicopter as well as a number of drones had been destroyed by anti-aircraft missiles. The military's Operational Command (South) later published drone video purporting to show a Russian helicopter on Snake Island being destroyed.

3:08 a.m. ET, May 8, 2022

60 people feared dead after bombing of school shelter in Ukraine

From CNN's Lizzy Yee and Svitlana Budzhak-Jones

Images show the aftermath of a bombing in Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. 60 people are feared dead following the airstrike, according to Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration.
Images show the aftermath of a bombing in Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. 60 people are feared dead following the airstrike, according to Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration. (From Serhiy Hayday)

Sixty people are feared dead following an airstrike on Saturday on a school in the Luhansk region where 90 people were sheltering, according to a local official.

Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said 30 people sheltering in the school had been rescued, of which seven were injured. 

The bodies of two people were found in the debris, Hayday said in a Telegram post on Sunday, adding that it is "likely that all of the 60 people left under the building’s wreckage were killed."

A Russian aircraft had dropped a bomb on the school in the village of Bilohorivka, which is some seven miles from the frontlines, according to Hayday.

The strike hit at around 4:37 p.m. local time on Saturday, causing fires to break out that took almost four hours to extinguish, he said.