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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12:25 p.m. ET, May 9, 2022

European Council president forced to take shelter from missile strike during Ukraine visit, EU official says 

From CNN’s James Frater and Julia Kesaieva 

President of the European Council Charles Michel is seen during his visit to Odesa, Ukraine, on May 9, in this picture released by the European Council press office.
President of the European Council Charles Michel is seen during his visit to Odesa, Ukraine, on May 9, in this picture released by the European Council press office. (Dario Pignatelli/European Council Press Service/AFP/Getty Images)

During a meeting with the Ukrainian prime minister on Monday, European Council President Charles Michel and other participants “needed to interrupt the meeting to take shelter as missiles struck again the region of Odesa,” a European Union official told CNN. 

In a readout of Michel’s visit, the official, who was not in Ukraine, said that President Michel and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal were joined by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky via video link from Kyiv, and their discussions “focused on how best the EU can continue to support Ukraine in meeting the humanitarian, economic and military challenges they currently face.” 

Speaking in Odesa, Michel said he wanted to confirm to Zelensky and “to all the people in Ukraine, that our support will be maximum,” and that the EU “will provide as much as we can” in terms of military equipment. 

He also said that EU was coordinating with the international community to “mobilize financial support, expertise, in order for you to be able to address the humanitarian challenges, to be also able to run the country, and you need liquidity and to start the rebuilding of the country.” 

Michel added, “We know, that you and the people of Ukraine who are fighting for your homeland, for the future of your children, for your freedoms, but you are also fighting for our common European principles, values and democracy and democratic rights.” 

“And that's why it's our moral duty to support you as much as we can,” he said. 

In a video statement, Zelensky thanked the European Council president for his support and for giving Ukraine “the possibility to be equal in the family of the European Union.” 

"And in this difficult moment — of the bombardment, and the war — your courageous position and being present, in Odesa, in person is not just welcome, but raises lots of gratitude," the Ukrainian leader added.  

Earlier on Monday, Serhiy Bratchuk, the spokesperson for the Odesa region military administration, said that Russian forces had fired four Onyx cruise missiles at the region. 

11:04 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Russian storming of Azovstal plant continues with tanks and artillery, Ukrainian defense official says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll

Smoke rises from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 7.
Smoke rises from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 7. (Alexei Alexandrov/AP)

Russian forces continue with a “storm offensive” on the Azovstal plant in Mariupol on Monday, using tanks and artillery, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told reporters in a daily briefing.

“We cannot exclude renewed bombings, Tu22M3 long range bombers,” he added.

According to the ministry, Russia’s presence in the Black Sea has now swelled to seven vessels armed with Kaliber-type cruise missiles, “collectively carrying up to 50 missiles.”

Meanwhile, the situation in breakaway region of Transnistria remains tense, according to Motuzyanyk, with “local units and brigades of the so called ‘operational forces’ from the Russian Federation stationed there remaining on high alert.”

10:40 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Here's the latest on Ukraine's efforts to obtain EU membership

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a video conference call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday, where he announced the transfer for the second part of the completed questionnaire for obtaining the status of a candidate for EU membership, according to his office.

Sending the answers in itself is "also a small victory for our team," he said, according to a statement released from the office.

Obtaining EU membership candidate status is "of great importance for the Ukrainian people and our Armed Forces, which are defending their homeland," he told von der Leyen on Monday.

"We are waiting for the consideration and conclusions of the European Commission. I would like these conclusions to be positive. And I would like these conclusions to be provided faster thanks to you."

The EU "will aim to deliver its opinion in June," von der Leyen tweeted Monday.

10:36 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

US ambassador to UN: Putin "has recognized he has no victory to celebrate" — but gave no plans to withdraw

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

Press briefing by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield President of the Security Council for the month of May at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on May 3.
Press briefing by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield President of the Security Council for the month of May at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on May 3. (Lev Radin/Sipa USA/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin “has recognized he has no victory to celebrate,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN in response to the lack of a major escalatory announcement in Putin's “Victory Day” speech Monday, but she said he also gave no indication that he plans to end the war. 

In the first reaction from a Biden administration official to Putin’s speech, Thomas-Greenfield noted that the Russian leader did not use his remarks on Monday to announce a withdrawal from Ukraine – which would have been welcomed by the United States – and which she said signals that Putin’s war will continue. 

Thomas-Greenfield told CNN’s Kylie Atwood “there was no reason for (Putin) to either declare victory or declare a war that he has already been carrying on for more than two months.”

“His efforts in Ukraine have not succeeded,” she said. “He was not able to go into Ukraine and bring them to their knees in a few days and have them surrender.”

However, “the conflict is not over, for sure,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

“He didn’t announce a withdrawal. He didn’t announce a deal with the Ukrainians,” she told CNN. “So I suspect and we all assess that this could be a long-term conflict that could carry on for additional months.”

Moreover, Thomas-Greenfield told CNN that it would be too strong to say the United States “welcomed” Putin’s remarks today because the “unconscionable war on the Ukrainian people” continues.

“So what we would see as a positive sign is for Putin to pull his troops out of Ukraine and bring this unconscionable war to an end,” she said.

10:18 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Russian diplomats' behavior at UN has "absolutely" changed since the war began, US ambassador to UN says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia consults with ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy, center, during a Security Council meeting on maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on May 5
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia consults with ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy, center, during a Security Council meeting on maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on May 5 (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images)

The US ambassador to the United Nations told CNN the behavior of the Russian diplomats she works with in New York has “absolutely” changed since Russia began its war in Ukraine.

“From day one, the 24th of February, when we were sitting in an emergency meeting of Security Council and the Russians were president of the Security Council, we saw their demeanor change significantly in the council,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in Brussels Monday.

Thomas-Greenfield told CNN that the Russian diplomats at the United Nations “certainly” are “reading off of prepared remarks.”

“We know and expect when they will respond to things we say but I suspect that everything is very much laid out for them and scripted,” she said.

The Russian diplomats at the UN seem “uncomfortable,” noting she sees that reflected in “the way they carry themselves, the demeanor,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that she sees her Russian counterpart appear at the UN Security Council less frequently than before the war — now he often sends his deputy or his experts in his place.

She also said that she believes the Russian diplomats at the UN “were taken by surprise by the attack” on Feb. 24 that launched Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“I think they knew about the attack when we knew about the attack in the (Security) Council,” the US ambassador said, referring to the emergency meeting that was taking place at UN headquarters at the same time.

10:44 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Ukrainians are fighting back in Luhansk region after Russian units cross key river, official says

From CNN's Tim Lister, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Anastasia Graham Yooll

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says that Russian forces are trying to develop their offensive in the Luhansk region with "continuous attempts" to cross the Siverskyi Donets river near Belahorivka.

Col. Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said the Russians had built three pontoon crossings across the river and were supporting ground troops with artillery and aircraft.

He said the Russians were aiming to cut off Lysychansk, a town on the frontlines some ten miles (about 16 kilometers) from one of the pontoon bridges identified on satellite imagery.

If successful, the Russian advance might be able to cut Ukrainian supply lines to the defenders of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

But images reviewed by CNN indicate that at least one pontoon bridge has already been destroyed, with ruined tanks and other equipment half-submerged in the river.

"Our troops are clearing the territory of Belohorivka, where the occupiers crossed the river by pontoon crossing," Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk military administration, said.

"After the clean-up of Belohorivka, evacuation will resume," he added, saying rescuers would be able to clear the rubble of the school building that was hit on Saturday by a bomb dropped by a Russian aircraft, killing dozens of people taking refuge in the school.

It's unclear whether the Ukrainians retain control of Belohorivka. 

Hayday said that in Popasna —to the south — "our defenders keep the defense in new fortified positions, there are no breakthroughs. Soon the situation must change in our favor."

More context: 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.

Hayday said earlier 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.

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

The location of the bridge is less than two miles (about 3 kilometers) from the village of Bilohorivka, which was bombed by Russian aircraft on Saturday.

CNN's Gianluca Mezzofiore contributed reporting to this post.

9:36 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

EU sanctions discussions still ongoing due to Hungarian opposition 

From CNN's Clare Sebastian and Radina Gigova in London

The receiver station of the Druzhba pipeline of petroleum between Hungary and Russia at the Duna (Danube) Refinery of Hungarian MOL Company located near the town of Szazhalombatta, south of Budapest, Hungary, on May 5.
The receiver station of the Druzhba pipeline of petroleum between Hungary and Russia at the Duna (Danube) Refinery of Hungarian MOL Company located near the town of Szazhalombatta, south of Budapest, Hungary, on May 5. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)

Discussions on the proposed sixth round of European Union sanctions are ongoing as Hungary threatened it won't vote for the package "until there is a solution to Hungary's energy security," EU spokesperson Daniel Ferrie said Monday.

Hungary "will not vote for another Brussels sanctions package until there is a solution to Hungary's energy security," Hungarian government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said Sunday, quoting prime Minister Péter Szijjártó, and adding, "we Hungarians are interested in peace as soon as possible."

Also on Sunday, Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev said in an interview on Bulgaria's National Television (BNT) that Bulgaria will not support the European Union's new set of sanctions against Russia if his country doesn't get a derogation from the proposed ban on buying Russian oil, like other countries have requested. 

Vassilev said there is an agreement on most points of the sanctions draft, except when it comes sanctions on Russian oil. He said several countries, including Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, still have issues with the proposed latest sanctions on Russian oil.

10:07 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Vladimir Putin took part in "Immortal Regiment" walk on Victory Day

From CNN's Katharina Krebs, Simon Bouvier and Dalal Mawad

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other participants carry portraits of their relatives - WWII soldiers - as they take part in the Immortal Regiment march on Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other participants carry portraits of their relatives - WWII soldiers - as they take part in the Immortal Regiment march on Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the "Immortal Regiment" procession on Red Square in Moscow, holding a portrait of his father, a front-line soldier, the Kremlin said in a statement on Monday. 

On May 9, as part of the "Immortal Regiment" campaign, people march in cities of Russia and abroad with portraits of relatives who participated in the Great Patriotic War.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday the differences in how Russia and the European Union have chosen to mark the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat shows they are “very different projects.”

“We have shown two very different faces of May 9th,” Macron said at a news conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday.

“On one side, there was a will to make a show of force, to intimidate and bellicose rhetoric. And here, there was a broad and civic gathering of citizens, of national and European representatives, to think about our future,” he continued.

Asked by a journalist if Putin’s stated desire to avoid confrontation was hypocritical, Macron replied that: “President Putin has taken a bellicose stance; we are clearly on the side of Ukraine,” but warned that there would be “a peace to build tomorrow” and that “it will not be achieved by excluding one another or through humiliation.”

Earlier, President Macron delivered a speech to the European Parliament, in which he said that "Ukraine, through its fight and its courage, is already today a heartfelt member of our Europe, of our family, of our union," while warning that any formal Ukrainian accession to the EU could take decades.

More on Russia's Victory Day: Global leaders and defense officials had spent weeks speculating about what Putin might reveal about his Ukraine plans in a speech at Russia's Victory Day commemorations. The leader offered few clues on the direction of the conflict.

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.

CNN's Angela Dewan contributed reporting to this post.

8:49 a.m. ET, May 9, 2022

Separatist leader plans to make Mariupol a "resort town"

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin attends a ceremony, marking the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 9.
Head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin attends a ceremony, marking the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 9. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The head of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, has said that he plans to make Mariupol into a resort town.

"Russia is here forever, and you are finally home. Now this is the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic forever. No one will take it away from us," Pushilin said after attending events to mark Victory Day.

"We have strength, we have opportunities, we have the support of the biggest beautiful country — Russia," Pushilin told Mariupol residents according to the Russian state news agency TASS. "The task is to make Mariupol a resort city, which has not been possible to do before."

Pushilin said the Azovstal steel plant, where hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers remain, had "negatively affected the ecology of the city."

"If Azovstal is not restored, then we will make a resort town," Pushilin said, explaining it would create additional jobs and bring income to the city.

Pushilin said the DPR is "faced with the task of regaining control over its territories, and then the republic will decide on its future."

"As soon as we reach the constitutional borders of the Donetsk People's Republic, these are the borders of the former Donetsk region, we will make the decision ... Now the main task is to liberate all of our lands, to start rebuilding cities," he added.

On Feb. 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow recognized the sovereignty of the DPR and the Luhansk People's Republic.