May 10, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Andrew Raine, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 0437 GMT (1237 HKT) May 11, 2022
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9:02 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

US national intelligence director says Putin is preparing for a protracted conflict. Here's what we know

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis and Michael Conte

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing in Washington, DC, on May 10.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing in Washington, DC, on May 10. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

The US intelligence community believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is likely to become “more unpredictable and escalatory” in the coming months, the nation’s director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday. 

Here's what to know about Avril Haines' remarks:

  • Uncertain future: Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Haines painted a grim and uncertain picture of the next phase of Putin’s months-old invasion. She said his next move will be difficult to predict in part because “Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities.” 
  • Escalation: Haines said the situation on the ground could "increase the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic means." That could include "including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production, or potentially escalatory military actions."
  • Nuclear weapons: She told lawmakers the intelligence community does not believe Putin would turn to the use of nuclear weapons unless he felt there was an existential threat to Russia. Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, also said specifically that the US does not anticipate Russia moving imminently to use a tactical or battlefield nuclear weapon. 
  • Eastern offensive: Haines' comments come as intense fighting continues in the east of Ukraine, where Russia is trying to capture territory. The intelligence community believes Putin's goals extend far beyond the eastern Donbas region, however. "Even if they are successful, we are not confident the fight in Donbas will effectively end the war," Haines said.
  • In the near term: Putin, she said, wants to capture the two eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, control the city of Kherson and potentially extend a land bridge around the southern rung of the country to Transnistria, a Russian-backed region in Moldova. But to reach Transnistria, the intelligence community believes that Putin would need to launch a full mobilization inside Russia, a step he has so far not taken. 
  • Peace talks: “As both Russia and Ukraine believe they can continue to make progress militarily, we do not see a viable negotiating path forward, at least in the short term,” Haines said. 
7:46 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

Freed US citizen detained in Ukraine by Russian forces says he feels "relieved"

From CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton

Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project Dynamo, left, and Kirillo Alexandrov, a 27-year-old American citizen who was held captive by Russians for alleged espionage
Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project Dynamo, left, and Kirillo Alexandrov, a 27-year-old American citizen who was held captive by Russians for alleged espionage (CNN)

CNN’s Erin Burnett spoke with Kirillo Alexandrov, a 27-year-old American citizen who was held captive by Russians for alleged espionage. 

Bryan Stern, co-founder of Project Dynamo, told CNN that Alexandrov and his Ukrainian wife and mother-in-law were taken by Russian forces more than a month ago in Kherson Oblast. They had been held in a building occupied by the Russians and the Russian security services would not allow them to leave until today, Stern said.    

Sitting next to Stern, Alexandrov told Erin, “I feel relieved, nothing more, nothing less, just relieved.”  

When asked how he was treated by Russian soldiers while in captivity he said he is a victim of war crimes. 

“Some individuals were very cordial with me, some were violent. I was cuffed and beaten a few times. My wife was assaulted. Not high end professionalism as far as military personnel goes. But we are victims of war crimes here,” Alexandrov said. 

Alexandrov did not know negotiations for his release were happening. 

“I was ignorant to basically everything. I was just held in a room for however many days. It just felt like one long day or a lifetime,” he said. 

His wife was assaulted during their time in captivity but she is a strong person and doing much better, he said. 

“She’s great. She’s held me up ... she’s got a strong grip, she’s a strong person and she’s doing a lot better,” he said of his wife. 

The US government was aware and helped when they could, Stern told CNN. 

“We were close to getting them out pretty much every day for the last two and a half weeks,” he said. “A lot of people told us this was a losing case, this is not gonna work, this is too hard, he’s an alleged spy in captivity there’s just no way ... A lot of people told us it was impossible but we get told that a lot in Dynamo and it always seems to work out.” 

Alexandrov says he’s indebted to Stern for his teams work securing his released. 

“Incredibly brave, honorable, he’s a very good man and I’m not gonna forget any of this ever, I don’t know how I can ever repay him and his team because I would be dead if it wasn’t for him,” Alexandrov said of Stern and his team.

5:51 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

UN Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine expected this week

From CNN’s Richard Roth

The UN Security Council is expected to hold a public meeting Thursday morning on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine at the request of France and Mexico. The UN Humanitarian Office and officials from UNICEF are expect to brief the council at that time though no vote is scheduled.

The security council is also expected to hold a public meeting on Wednesday afternoon on North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test. The United States has been pushing a new resolution on the issue, as well, but no vote is scheduled at this time. 

5:22 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

US House expected to vote on $40 billion Ukraine aid bill Tuesday

From CNN's Clare Foran, Kristin Wilson, Annie Grayer and Ellie Kaufman,

(House TV)
(House TV)

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday evening on a nearly $40 billion bill to deliver aid to Ukraine as it continues to face Russia's brutal assault.

Lawmakers unveiled bill text on Tuesday ahead of a planned vote later in the day on the legislation, which is expected to have bipartisan support. Aid to Ukraine has been a rare bright spot of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill with Democrats and Republicans largely rallying around a call to help the nation as it faces Russian attack. 

The legislation the House will vote on provides funding for a long list of priorities, including military and humanitarian assistance. 

Included among the legislation's allocations for defense is $6 billion to assist Ukrainian military and national security forces, according to a fact sheet released by House Democrats. The expenditure will go toward training, weapons, equipment, logistics and intelligence support as well as other needs. 

There will also be almost $9 billion to help restock US equipment that has been sent to Ukraine. That comes as many lawmakers have raised concerns about replacing US stocks of weapons the US is giving to Ukraine, especially stingers and javelin missiles.

The bill includes an increase in presidential drawdown authority funding from the $5 billion the Biden administration originally requested to $11 billion. Presidential drawdown authority funding allows the administration to send military equipment and weapons from US stocks. This has been one of the main ways the administration has provided Ukrainians with military equipment quickly over the past 75 days of the conflict in Ukraine.

In the Ukraine aid supplemental that was signed into law in mid-March, $3 billion in this kind of funding was included. The Biden administration has been using that funding to provide military assistance to Ukraine in a series of presidential drawdown authority packages. The latest package of $150 million was authorized on May 6. 

The bill also includes $6 billion in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding, another way the Biden administration has been providing Ukraine with military assistance. USAI funding allows the administration to buy weapons from contractors and then provide those weapons to Ukraine, so this method does not draw directly from US stocks.

To address humanitarian needs, the bill will include $900 million to bolster refugee assistance, including housing, trauma support, and English language instruction for Ukrainians fleeing the country.

The measure provides an additional $54 million that will be used for public health and medical support for Ukrainian refugees.

"This monumental package of security, economic and humanitarian aid will be on the Floor tonight, where we hope to secure a strong bipartisan vote," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats on Tuesday after the bill text was released.

"This package, which builds on the robust support already secured by Congress, will be pivotal in helping Ukraine defend not only its nation but democracy for the world," Pelosi said.

Senate Democratic leadership has indicated the chamber will take up the bill quickly once it passes the House.

Read more here.

4:56 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

Lithuanian foreign minister: Russian regime must be removed to stop "warmongering"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the removal of not only Vladimir Putin, but the entire regime that supports him is necessary to stop Russia's "warmongering" and predicted the Kremlin leader will become increasingly erratic as his battlefield losses grow in Ukraine.

Speaking to CNN in Washington on Tuesday, Landsbergis also said his nation is seeking a permanent US troop presence, calling it "the biggest deterrent to an aggressor like Russia," as well as fortified support from NATO at next month's leaders' summit in Madrid.

Lithuania has been a strong supporter of Ukraine since the start of the war more than two months ago and has pushed for a robust response to counter Russia, becoming the first country in the European Union to stop Russian gas imports.

Landsbergis said the United States and European allies have thus far been focused on their "tactical approach" to the war in Ukraine, responding to the developments on the ground.

However, the foreign minister stressed that they also need to think strategically about the longer-term — and until Putin and his enablers are gone, the world needs to be prepared that Russia "might war again, and not excluding NATO countries."

"There are countries that are expecting that we just have to wait it out and kind of wait for the war to be over and then we'll get back to the business as usual," Landsbergis said, who argued that "Russia is out of the civilized world order ... they no longer belong in this."
"Russia's warmongering state will be over when the regime is over in Russia. That's the only way that we see it," he said.  

Landsbergis did not suggest the West should take concrete action to remove Putin from power and acknowledged that "it might take quite some time for it to change, because we don't have any active means to change it. So it needs to change from within."

Moreover, Landsbergis explained it would not be enough just for Putin to no longer lead Russia because "it's a whole system."

"Putin might be sick, he might be pushed aside by his inner circle — who's probably quite unhappy about the losses in the battlefield — but that doesn't mean that the regime will change or its attitude, the war mongering attitude will change," he said, saying it was reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Landsbergis told CNN that Putin's Victory Day speech on Monday suggested there may be discontent among that inner circle about Russia's failures in the war, saying it was "fascinating" that the Russian President "tried to explain" why he started the war in those remarks.

 Read more here.

4:34 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

The ordinary Ukrainians fighting back against Russia

From CNN's Mick Krever

Ukraine’s fierce resistance to the Russian invasion has resonated around the world.

At the center of that fight are ordinary citizens who left behind comfortable lives to answer a call of duty -- people such as a software engineer, a logistics manager and even a poet.

The area south of Izium is a key point of resistance against Russian attempts to completely encircle the Donbas region.

Most civilians have left, and the artillery battles are near-constant. These are some of the people trying to ensure it does not fall into Russian hands.

Anna Arhipova, 22

(Mick Krever/CNN)
(Mick Krever/CNN)

Anna Arhipova was a logistics manager in her hometown of Poltava, northeast Ukraine, before the war began.

At the time, her overriding fear was not of the violence, but of "not being useful," she says. So she signed up, and now drives a pickup truck to some of the most dangerous areas of the conflict.

In a world of bearded, stocky young men, her slight frame cuts an uncommon figure. But she says it’s the men, not her, who are troubled by her presence.

"Everybody tells me that I have to give birth, cook, clean, and do the housekeeping, not be here," she says. "It irritates me very, very much. I answer that if I would like to give birth, I would not be here."

Alex, 34

(Mick Krever/CNN)
(Mick Krever/CNN)

Alex, who wanted to use only his first name out of privacy concerns, is a software engineer from Kharkiv. Last year, he built his own countryside log cabin.

Now his house, which was on a strategically located hill, has been reduced to a hole five meters deep, and he spends many of his nights sleeping in a tank named ‘Bunny,’ which was stolen from the Russian military in the opening weeks of the war.

"This is like my personal tank," he explains. "I am like tank commander and tank owner," he says with a laugh.

Vlad Sord, 27

(Mick Krever/CNN)
(Mick Krever/CNN)

Vlad Sord was still a teenager when he signed up to fight for Ukraine in 2014.

"A lot of strange things happen there," explains Sord, as he chain smokes cigarillos. "Things that I could not explain, I collected them, compiled them, wrote them down."

He’s now a published author and poet. He fights for his country, and gathers material to document what's happening.

"I have a very good memory for the dialogues themselves and I use that. I write everything down."

4:29 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

US working with other partners to find alternative routes for Ukrainian grain and corn, official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Bridget Brink, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, prepares to testify at her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, May 10
Bridget Brink, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, prepares to testify at her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, May 10 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Bridget Brink, the nominee for US ambassador to Ukraine, said Tuesday that the United States is “trying to work with international partners and others to help find alternative routes for grain and corn out of Ukraine.”

“On the question of moving things out of the ports, this is a big challenge right now because Russia is blocking the ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov,” she said during her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing. “So we are trying to work with international partners and others to help find alternative routes for grain and corn out of Ukraine, as well as to work with the other relief organizations to supplement those countries that had depended upon these exports.”

Brink called it “an enormous challenge” but said the US has the benefit of the Biden’s administration’s “success in galvanizing a coalition of like-minded people who together condemned this war of choice and are ready to work together.”

4:15 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

It's 11 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN Staff

Damaged cars and debris from a damaged residential building are seen in the  Saltivka neighbourhood, of  Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday May 10.
Damaged cars and debris from a damaged residential building are seen in the Saltivka neighbourhood, of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday May 10. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

The war in Ukraine is likely to become “more unpredictable and escalatory” in the coming months, the US director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines painted a grim and uncertain picture of the next phase of Putin’s two-month-old invasion, which she told the US Senate Armed Services Committee will be difficult to predict in part because “Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities.” 

“At the very least, we believe the dichotomy will usher in a period of more ad hoc decision-making in Russia, both with respect to the domestic adjustments required to sustain this push, as well as the military conflict with Ukraine and the West,” she told US lawmakers.

“And the current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic means, including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production, or potentially escalatory military actions to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives as the conflict drags on, or if he perceives Russia is losing in Ukraine," she continued.

Still, Haines told US lawmakers, the intelligence community does not believe Putin would turn to the use of nuclear weapons unless he felt there was an existential threat to Russia.

Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:

  • The bodies of 44 civilians recovered from rubble in occupied Izium: The bodies of 44 civilians were found in the rubble of a five-story building in the town of Izium, which is currently controlled by Russian troops, according to the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration. Oleh Syniehubov said the building had been "completely destroyed by the occupiers" but it's not yet clear when it happened. Russian forces have been in control of Izium for nearly two months. Before that, the town was heavily contested and intensively shelled.
  • Belarus is moving special forces to border with Ukraine: The Armed Forces of Belarus will deploy special forces to the border of Ukraine because "the United States and its allies continue to increase their military presence at the state borders," according to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Viktor Gulevich. "In order to ensure the security of the Republic of Belarus in the southern direction, the forces of the units of the special operations forces are deployed in three tactical directions," according to a statement Tuesday. It said the Ukrainians had created a force of 20,000 close to the Belarus border, which "requires a response from us."
  • Germany will begin reopening its embassy in Kyiv: Germany will start reopening its embassy in Ukraine, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock announced during a visit to Kyiv Tuesday. Baerbock had an “open, friendly conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, together with Dutch Foreign Minister Hoekstra," a source in the German delegation said. “The conversation focused on assistance to Ukraine in the military sphere and reconstruction, as well as on how to solve the blockade of much-needed global food exports from Ukraine,” media was told.
  • Ukrainian intelligence says grain stolen by Russians is already in the Mediterranean: The intelligence arm of the Ukrainian defense ministry said that grain stolen by Russian troops in occupied areas is already being sent abroad. The intelligence directorate claimed that a "significant part of the grain stolen from Ukraine is on dry cargo ships under the Russian flag in the Mediterranean." The directorate said the "most likely destination is Syria. Grain may be smuggled from there to other countries in the Middle East." The directorate also said the Russians "continue to export food stolen in Ukraine to the territory of the Russian Federation and the occupied Crimea."
  • Ukraine says Russia is diverting troops north into Kharkiv region: The Armed Forces of Ukraine said that the Russians have sent about 500 troops from occupied areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions north into the Kharkiv region. They gave no explanation for the move, but CNN reported earlier Tuesday comments by local officials in the Kharkiv region that suggested some Russian troops were being sent northward to reinforce supply lines from the border. Local authorities said there is "a mass withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Borova and Bohuslavka in the direction of Kupyansk." Kupyansk is an important Russian logistics hub inside Ukraine and may become vulnerable if a Ukrainian counterattack in the region is sustained.
  • Ukraine has killed up to 10 Russian generals, head of US Defense Intelligence Agency says: Ukraine has killed between “eight and ten” Russian generals during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. US officials have closely watched the climbing number of general officer deaths in the Russian military — an unusually high number for a modern military that far outstrips the number of US generals lost during 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan. Some US officials have attributed that atypically high figure in part to the intelligence support provided by the United States, while others believe it is because Russian generals are being forced to operate far more forward in the conflict zone than would normally be expected in order to motivate their troops. 
  • Russia’s economy is "clearly in recession" and facing 20% inflation, US Treasury secretary says: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that Western sanctions have delivered a powerful blow to Russia’s economy following the invasion of Ukraine. “Their economy is clearly in recession,” Yellen told lawmakers during a hearing on the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s annual report to Congress, adding that there are forecasts the Russian economy will contract by 10% to 15%. Inflation in Russia is probably running around 20% this year, Yellen said. That would be more than double the 8.5% year-over-year jump in consumer prices in the United States in March.
  • More than 8 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine, according to UN agency: More than eight million people have been internally displaced in Ukraine, according to the latest report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency. Over 18% — or nearly one in five — of Ukraine's pre-war population is now internally displaced, said the fourth Ukraine Internal Displacement Report, published Monday. "The needs of those internally displaced and all affected by the war in Ukraine are growing by the hour," IOM Director General António Vitorino said Tuesday. The latest survey, conducted between April 29 and May 3, found that 63% of those internally displaced are women. More than 50% of displaced households have children, 55% include elderly members and over 30% have people with chronic illnesses, according to the survey.
4:02 p.m. ET, May 10, 2022

President Biden thanks Italian prime minister for his response to Putin's "brutality" in Ukraine war

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi meets with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, May 10, in Washington, DC. T
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi meets with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, May 10, in Washington, DC. T (Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said that the ties between their two countries are “stronger” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The President thanked Draghi for his response to the “brutality of Putin,” when the two leaders met at the White House on Tuesday.

“Your cooperation and sometimes at a greater cost than to others to take on Putin and to what’s going on in Ukraine has been really incredible,” Biden told the prime minister. “Italy and the United States have a long history of shared bonds.”

Draghi told Biden he felt those bonds had been strengthened due to the unrest in Europe.

“The ties between our two countries have always been very strong, and if anything, this war in Ukraine made them stronger,” the Italian leader said.

“I agree,” the President responded.

“If Putin ever thought that he could divide us, he failed,” Draghi continued. “There’s no question about that.”

Draghi said that he and Biden would discuss “energy security” and “food security” during their meeting.

“What happened in Ukraine is going to bring a drastic change in (the) European Union,” the Italian prime minister said. “We’ve always been close, now we’re going to be much closer. I know that I can count on your support as a true friend of Europe and of Italy.”

Biden said he believed a strong European Union was “in the interest of the United States. 

“Granted,” he added, “that’s competition economically but it’s good. It’s good.”

“Putin really believed he could split us,” Biden said, “and we’ve all stepped up.”