May 9, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Andrew Raine, Tara John, Ben Church, Aditi Sangal, Laura Smith-Spark and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT) May 10, 2022
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8:17 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Ukrainian officials alarmed by Russians crossing major river in the east

From CNN's Tim Lister and Gianluca Mezzofiore

Ukrainian servicemen are seen in the trenches as fighting against Russian troops continues near to Cherkaske in eastern Ukraine, on May 3.
Ukrainian servicemen are seen in the trenches as fighting against Russian troops continues near to Cherkaske in eastern Ukraine, on May 3. (Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials have raised the alarm about a Russian pontoon bridge that was erected a few days ago and may now enable Russian forces to threaten Ukrainian defenses and supply routes in the Luhansk region.

Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said Monday that the Russians were trying to take away "the road of life," which connects the front lines in the east around Severodonetsk with the town of Bakhmut, an important rear base.

"The Russians transported equipment to the other shore via a pontoon across the Siversky Donets river," Hayday said.

"If they consolidate, they will be able to develop an offensive and get closer to the road, cutting off Luhansk region.
"This will mean the loss of the single path to security, and connection with other regions."

CNN has confirmed satellite imagery showing a pontoon bridge across the Siversky Donets on Sunday. There had been no such bridge on May 3.

The location of the bridge is less than two miles from the village of Bilohorivka, which was bombed by Russian aircraft on Saturday.

The school in the village, where 90 people were taking shelter, was hit and about sixty people are thought to have been killed.

Rescue efforts have since been hampered by continued shelling.

It now appears that the bombardment was to prepare for an attempted ground advance by Russian forces.

It's unknown how far Russian forces have progressed if they have crossed the river.

8:13 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Russia's Victory Day air shows canceled across the country, raising eyebrows

From CNN's Brad Lendon and Sarah Dean

MiG-29 jet fighters of the Strizhi Swifts and Su-30SM jet fighters of the Russkiye Vityazi, Russian Knights, aerobatic teams take part in a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, on May 7.
MiG-29 jet fighters of the Strizhi Swifts and Su-30SM jet fighters of the Russkiye Vityazi, Russian Knights, aerobatic teams take part in a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, on May 7. (Bai Xueqi/Xinhua/Getty Images)

Planned Victory Day air shows were canceled in locations across Russia, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, Russian state news agency TASS reported Monday. 

The decision raised eyebrows among foreign military analysts watching Moscow's Victory Day parade on Monday. The parade had been expected to feature 77 aircraft flying over the capital's Red Square, including eight MiG-29 fighters flying in a “Z” formation to show support for Russian troops fighting in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow's air show was canceled due to weather conditions, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. Aviation shows were also canceled in Samara, Kaliningrad, and Murmansk, TASS wrote. 

Sounds unbelievable. It seemed sunny on what I saw. The only excuse would be strong crosswinds at the air bases the aircraft were coming from," Peter Layton, a fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia and former Australian air force officer, told CNN.

During the parade in Moscow, winds were sustained at around 15 mph, with gusts reported at around 30 mph at 11 a.m. local time. The cloud cover was also increasing throughout the morning with mostly cloudy skies during the parade, according to CNN Meteorologist Monica Garrett.

Light rain was reported after 12:30 p.m. local.

The only air parade scheduled in Russia's south, which was due to be held in the city of Rostov-on-Don, did not take place, TASS said, citing the press service of the Southern Military District.

8:05 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Jill Biden met with Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova, says the White House

From CNN's Kate Bennett

US First Lady Jill Biden, left, and Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, right, pose for a photo prior talks inside the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, on May 9.
US First Lady Jill Biden, left, and Slovak President Zuzana Caputova, right, pose for a photo prior talks inside the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, on May 9. (Photo by Vladimir Simicek/AFP/Getty Images)

United States first lady Jill Biden met with the President of Slovakia Zuzana Caputova at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava on Monday.

The two discussed the US's continued support of Ukraine, with Biden expressing gratitude for the way Slovakia has welcomed refugees, according to a White House official.

Upon arrival at the Great Hall palace reception room, Biden first signed a guest book with this message:

During my time in this beautiful country, I have seen firsthand the shared values that united Slovakia and the United States as friends, partners, and allies. This includes our common devotion to helping those most in need. We stand with Slovakia as it stands with the people of Ukraine.”

Biden, who made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Mother's Day, told the media she had spoken to US President Joe Biden afterward. 

“I said just how much I saw the need to support the people of Ukraine and … the horrors and the brutality that the people I had met had experienced,” said Biden of their conversation.

Following her departure from the palace, Biden traveled to the airport for the flight back to Washington, ending her four-day European trip.

6:27 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Analysis: On a Victory Day without new victories, Putin's speech keeps the world guessing

From CNN's Angela Dewan

Russian servicemen march on Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9.
Russian servicemen march on Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered very few clues on the direction of the Ukraine conflict in his speech at Russia's Victory Day commemorations on Monday.

Global leaders and defense officials had spent weeks speculating over what he might reveal about his plans, with some suggesting that he may use this historic day to escalate his so-called "special military operation" and declare an outright war.

Instead, the Russian president used his speech to blend history with the present, banking on Russian nationalism on its most patriotic of holidays to justify his war.

The question now is whether Putin will use this day – or this week even – to escalate the war in other ways.

Read more analysis here:

8:31 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Putin showed "a slight shine of desperation," says UK defense secretary

From CNN's Brad Lendon in Seoul

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace speaks during the Defence of Europe conference at King's College London in central London, on May 9.
Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace speaks during the Defence of Europe conference at King's College London in central London, on May 9. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin showed “a slight shine of desperation” in his Victory Day speech Monday, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, according to PA Media.

Among the reasons for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was that the NATO alliance was surrounding Russia and putting bases in its western neighbor, Putin said.

Wallace dismissed Putin's claims.

NATO accounts for 6% of his land border. That’s not being surrounded if only 6% of your land border is NATO countries,” the UK defense secretary said.

As for NATO bases in Ukraine, “I’m sure the Ukrainian ambassador will tell you there weren’t any NATO bases in Ukraine,” PA quoted Wallace as saying.

I think he is believing what he wants to believe – a slight shine of desperation,” Wallace said of Putin.

Earlier, in a speech at the British National Army Museum, Wallace reiterated London’s strong support for Kyiv in the war.

“The British government – the whole United Kingdon – stands in solidarity with Ukraine, supporting their courageous defense of sovereignty, territorial integrity and simple right to a peaceful and prosperous future,” Wallace said.

5:57 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Putin is 'completely out of ideas' on Ukraine, analyst says

From CNN's Brad Lendon in Seoul

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on the screen as he delivers a speech during 77th anniversary of the Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on May 9.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on the screen as he delivers a speech during 77th anniversary of the Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on May 9. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin seems like he’s “completely out of ideas” about the war in Ukraine, one prominent analyst said after the Russian President’s Victory Day speech in Moscow on Monday.

Either doesn’t now understand the reality of the situation in Ukraine, or willfully ignoring it,” Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said of Putin in a Twitter post.

Some context: Speculation before the speech was that Putin might formally declare war on Ukraine or order a mass mobilization of Russian forces to prosecute the war that has now stretched into its third month, with heavy Russian losses.

While Putin blamed NATO and the West for forcing him to invade Ukraine to protect Russian interests, he didn’t offer any idea of what would be considered a victory or any ways to prosecute the war further.

Without concrete steps to build a new force, Russia can’t fight a long war, and the clock starts ticking on the failure of their army in Ukraine,” O’Brien said.
5:48 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Head of Russia-backed Luhansk People's Republic congratulates residents on Victory Day

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

The head of the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), Leonid Pasechnik, laid wreaths at monuments in honor of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti reported on Monday.

Wreaths were laid at the Pylon of Glory in tribute to Luhansk Heroes of the Soviet Union and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

"Victory will be ours," said Pasechnik.

He said that due to the liberation of the regions of the LPR, residents can celebrate Victory Day, wear a St. George ribbon and speak Russian "without fear of persecution and repression."

"People of different ages, professions and nationalities united to deliver a crushing blow to Nazism -- which is now Ukrainian," Pasechnik said.

The leaders of the self-declared separatist republics in eastern Ukraine have been prominent in marking Victory Day, claiming it symbolizes another victory over Nazism.

Some context: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government have repeatedly said the aim of their so-called "special operation" is to "denazify" Ukraine, and made the baseless claim that freeing the country of Nazis is a matter of Russian survival.

8:08 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

"Auntie Soup" rescued from Mariupol steel factory

From CNN’s Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Ivana Kottasová in Lviv

“Auntie Soup," one of the evacuees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
“Auntie Soup," one of the evacuees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Mariupol City Council)

Her name is Natalia, but the kids of the Mariupol steel plant know her simply as “Auntie Soup.”

Natalia is one of the civilians rescued from the Azovstal complex, according to a statement posted on the Mariupol City Council’s Telegram channel.

Her last name has not been released by the authorities.

“Me and my husband have been sitting in the bomb shelter for two months and four days. We've been feeding the children and adults,” Natalia says in a video posted on the channel.

"That's why I'm Auntie Soup, because kids could not remember my name."

With little food available, Natalia had to be creative, the statement said, using “water dough and canned food” to create “the most delicious pizza in the world.”

“What is the power of these wonderful people? War and death are around, bombs dropping every minute, and they continue to fight for life, believe in the best and give each other love,” the statement added.

On Saturday, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that "all women, children and elderly people" had been evacuated from the steel plant.

7:12 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

It's 12 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, center left, walk after a military parade on Victory Day in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, center left, walk after a military parade on Victory Day in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his accusation that the West left him no choice but to invade Ukraine in a speech given during Russia's Victory Day parade, an annual commemoration of the country's defeat of Nazi Germany at the end of World War Two. The speech provided little detail on how Russia planned to proceed in Ukraine; it followed days of speculation that Putin would use the event to announce to make a major announcement.

Here are some of the latest developments:

  • Russia's muted Victory Day parade: Defence analysts noted a low-key parade, which saw thousands of troops assemble outside the Kremlin in the Red Square and the expected air portion of the annual event canceled due to weather, according to a Kremlin official. Putin repeated his reasons for invading Ukraine, saying the intervention was necessary as the West was creating "threats next to our borders" and "preparing for the invasion of our land." He also said the West didn't want to hear Russia's proposals for dialogue.
  • Modest celebrations in occupied areas: There were small pro-Russian celebrations in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, including Kherson, according to Russian state media. Pro-Russian social media accounts circulated videos shot in Ukraine's southern Kherson region showing small crowds waving red flags and carrying flowers as they marked Russia's Victory Day. Ukrainian activists in Kherson claimed Russia had brought in people from Crimea to bolster the numbers attending. In the southeastern city of Mariupol, flowers were laid at a memorial recently refurbished by Russian-backed separatists, according to Ukrainian officials.
  • Evacuations from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol: The Ukrainian government said "all women, children and elderly people" have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol -- the last Ukrainian holdout in the city. Zelensky said more than 300 civilians have been rescued.
  • Ukrainian counterattack in Kharkiv unfolds: The Ukrainian military says that Russia is holding back some of its forces within its borders to prevent a Ukrainian counterattack that has made some headway east of Kharkiv. Inside Ukraine, the general staff says the most intense activity is in Donetsk region, where Russian forces are trying to advance towards the town of Lyman, a major transport hub.
  • Rebuild Ukraine with Russian foreign exchange reserves, says top diplomat: The European Union should consider using billions of dollars’ worth of Russian foreign exchange reserves to rebuild Ukraine after the war, the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said in an interview with the Financial Times Monday. 
  • First lady Jill Biden and Canada’s Prime Minister make unannounced Ukraine trips: The US first lady made an unannounced trip on Sunday to Uzhhorod, a small city in the far southwestern corner of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau announced the reopening of the Canadian embassy in Kyiv in a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Ukrainian capital.
  • Dozens feared dead after bomb hits school sheltering Ukrainians: Ukraine has accused Russia of dropping a bomb on a school in the Luhansk region. Ninety people were said to be sheltering in the school; 60 are feared dead. Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said the school building was destroyed.