May 11, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Ben Church, Joshua Berlinger, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 0418 GMT (1218 HKT) May 12, 2022
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8:37 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

If Finland applies to join NATO, it will be "for the security" of its citizens, prime minister says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London and Nic Robertson and Lauren Kent in Helsinki

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin, left, speaks next to Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a joint press annoucement at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on May 11.
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin, left, speaks next to Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a joint press annoucement at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on May 11. (Franck Robichon/AFP/Getty Images)

If Finland applies to join NATO it will be "for the security" of its citizens, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Wednesday.

Speaking during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Marin said she had talked to her Japanese counterpart about Finland's "plans to possibly apply for NATO membership."

"If Finland makes this historical step, it is for the security of our own citizens. Joining NATO would strengthen the whole international community that stands for our common values," Marin said.

On Tuesday, Finland's Parliamentary Defense Committee told the Finnish Foreign Affairs Committee that it is in favor of applying for NATO membership, according to Finnish state media YLE.

The defense committee stated its belief that NATO membership would be the best solution for Finnish security.

Finnish Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen for European Affairs told CNN Tuesday that it is "highly likely" that the country will apply for NATO membership.

She hopes that if Finland does apply to join the alliance “the ratification process would be as brief as possible.”

Russia's response: Russia is closely monitoring NATO configuration close to its borders, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday, commenting on the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

“We are watching everything that is connected with actions that are capable of changing the configuration of the Alliance near our borders in one way or another,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call. 

“This is the subject of a very, very thorough analysis,” he added.

Read more about how Finland joining NATO could impact Russia:

CNN's Anna Chernova contributed reporting to this post.

9:14 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Ukraine's desire to negotiate declines "with each new Bucha, with each new Mariupol," Zelensky says

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Camille Knight in Paris

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to students of the Institute of Political Studies (IEP) in Paris, France, on May 11.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to students of the Institute of Political Studies (IEP) in Paris, France, on May 11. (Thibault Camus/AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Kyiv’s patience is running out for negotiations with Russia, given mounting evidence of atrocities committed by the Russian army, in a virtual address to French university students on Wednesday.

“We are ready to conduct these negotiations, these talks, as long as it is not too late,” Zelensky said.

“With each new Bucha, with each new Mariupol, with each new city where there are dozens of dead people, cases of rape, with each new atrocity, the desire and the possibility to negotiate disappears, as well as the possibility of resolving this issue in a diplomatic manner,” he added.

Zelensky also expressed his determination that Kyiv will win the war and take back all territories that belong to Ukraine. 

He reiterated the need for Ukraine to join the European Union, calling for meaningful steps to include Ukraine into the union.

“Ukraine will only strengthen other states, our army has demonstrated its capabilities. Our people have proven themselves,” Zelensky said.

8:31 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

New leadership in Ukraine's Kherson appeals to be incorporated into Russia

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

The new Russian-installed leadership of the Ukrainian region of Kherson plans to make a formal request to become part of the Russian federation.

"Authorities of Kherson region will appeal to the President of Russia with a request to include the region into Russia," says a statement on a new Telegram channel which appears to be linked to the pro-Russian administration.

The announcement was swiftly reported by Russian state media.

The appeal is attributed to Kirill Stremousov — the newly appointed deputy head of the military-civilian administration in Kherson.

At the weekend, Stremousov said that "citizens residing in the Kherson region will have the right to obtain Russian citizenship."

"We are not planning referendums, and we are not planning the creation of republics," he said.

"We are talking about the fact that we will integrate as much as possible into the Russian Federation according to all the opportunities that we have.

"And all those citizens who are on the territory of the Kherson region will have the right to obtain Russian citizenship and Russian passports."

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian President, tweeted his response to the announcement from Kherson.

"The invaders may ask to join even Mars or Jupiter," he wrote. "The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson, no matter what games with words they play."

What Russia is saying: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday it should be the decision of the people of Kherson when asked if Russia is ready to accept the Kherson region should the local authorities make such a request. 

“It is up to the citizens of the Kherson region to decide whether such an appeal will happen or not and to determine their own destiny,” Peskov told journalists on a regular conference call. 

Commenting on the legitimacy of such a procedure and whether it should be done through a referendum or by a decree, Peskov added it should be done in a “legitimate” way.

“This issue should be clearly and carefully verified and assessed by lawyers and legal experts because such fateful decisions should have a clear legal background, a justification, they should be absolutely legitimate, as was the case with Crimea,” he said.

Russian forces are occupying much of the southern Ukrainian province of Kherson, including the city of Kherson. 

CNN’s Anna Chernova contributed reporting to this post.

8:09 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Hungary will only vote for EU sanctions on Russian oil if bloc comes up with solutions, says FM

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Boglarka Kosztolanyi in London and Mayumi Maruyama in Tokyo

Hungary will only vote for EU sanctions on Russian oil if the bloc comes up with solutions to the problems it would create, according to Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó.

“We have made it clear to the European Commission that we can only vote for this proposal if Brussels offers a solution for the problems Brussels would create,” Szijjártó said in a video posted on Facebook Wednesday.

The EU has proposed banning all oil imports from Russia by the end of this year and removing the country's biggest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payments network.

“We are expecting a solution not only relating to the transformation of our refineries that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, not only relating to the capacity increase of the oil pipeline [that runs] across Croatia to Hungary that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but also with regard to the future of the Hungarian economy, as, like I said before, this current proposal is like ‘an atomic bomb’ for the Hungarian economy,” Szijjártó continued.

Last week, Zoltan Kovacs, spokesperson for the Hungarian Prime Minister, told CNN's Eleni Giokos that the EU proposal is "against Hungarian national energy security."

Kovacs said Hungary has told the EU that Hungarian oil companies have made it "clear" that they would not be able to rid themselves of Russian oil imports for at least three to five years.

8:20 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Foreign weapons "already at the front," says Ukraine deputy defense minister

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova

President Joe Biden speaks on security assistance to Ukraine during a visit to the Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations facility where they manufacture Javelin anti-tank missiles on May 3, in Troy, Alabama.
President Joe Biden speaks on security assistance to Ukraine during a visit to the Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations facility where they manufacture Javelin anti-tank missiles on May 3, in Troy, Alabama. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Ukraine's deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, says that weapons supplied to Kyiv by the US and other partners are already deployed to the front lines.

"Apart from the Javelins and Stingers, 155 mm American howitzers are already being used at the front," Maliar said in a briefing on Wednesday.

"We are working to accelerate the pace of aid, as this is the life of our soldiers."

A senior US defense official told reporters on Tuesday that 89 of the 90 Howitzers the US agreed to give to Ukraine have been transferred to Ukrainian possession.

Maliar said that the supply of foreign weapons had settled into a routine, despite Russian efforts to destroy transport infrastructure.

"We have already received a large number of weapons. But now we have entered the period of rhythmic supply of weapons to Ukraine," she added.

She also suggested that new arrangements would help Ukraine sustain a longer conflict.

“A lend lease package is currently being considered. We receive support from the European Union and other countries," she said.

"That is, we are entering a new phase of the war. Russia is driving itself into a state where it will not be able to win 'the war of equipment.'
"However, until this victory comes, we will have several difficult weeks, and maybe even months," she said.

Maliar also said Ukrainian production lines were being ramped up.

"We are making a strategic bet on the development of our own production. Manufacturers are already loaded with military orders to the end of the year. In addition, the Defense Ministry buys protective equipment from abroad," she said.

In the first ten days of May, the Ukrainian armed forces had received more than 34,000 body armor vests, she said.

8:12 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

UN chief stresses Ukraine’s agricultural production must be available on international markets again

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca in London

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Austrian President give a joint press conference in Vienna, Austria, on May 11.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Austrian President give a joint press conference in Vienna, Austria, on May 11. (Alex Halada/AFP/Getty Images)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that Ukraine’s agricultural production must be available on international markets again.

Speaking at a news conference in Vienna with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Guterres stressed that the “senseless war” in Ukraine “is causing massive devastation, destruction and suffering in the country,” with a vast impact on Ukraine’s “food, energy and finance”.

“Food security is an especially deep concern and was the focus of my recent meetings in Moscow and Kyiv," Guterres urged.

"We need quick and decisive action to ensure the steady flow of food and energy and open markets, by lifting export restrictions, allocating surpluses and reserves to those who need them and addressing food price increases to calm market volatility."

Guterres went on to say these additional challenges were coming off the back of the pandemic, further escalating “inequalities and insufficient resources for recovery”.

“To rise to these challenges, we need to raise our ambition and act together with greater urgency,” Guterres said.

Regarding the possibility of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, Guterres said: "This war will not last forever. There will be a moment in which the peace negotiations will be on the table.”

"It’s not on the immediate horizon, but one thing I can tell you: We will never give up," he added.

8:14 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Germany's gas supply "remains secure," its economy ministry says

From CNN’s Benjamin Brown in London

The pipe systems and shut-off devices at the gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and the transfer station of the OPAL (Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung - Baltic Sea Pipeline Link) long-distance gas pipeline in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lubmin on April 27
The pipe systems and shut-off devices at the gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and the transfer station of the OPAL (Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung - Baltic Sea Pipeline Link) long-distance gas pipeline in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lubmin on April 27 (Stefan Sauer/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Germany’s gas supply “remains secure” after Ukraine suspended some of its Russian gas exports to Europe due to interruptions at key transit points, the German economy ministry said Wednesday.

“Our gas supply is guaranteed at this stage and we are monitoring the supply situation closely together with the Federal Network Agency,” spokesperson Susanne Ungrad told CNN.

Most of the Russian gas imported by Germany, however, does not cross through Ukraine, instead being transported via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline through the Baltic, Ungrad added.

German officials had previously warned that it could face gas shortages over a payments dispute with Russia that arose following the invasion of Ukraine.

7:24 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

More communities liberated from Russian occupation, says Kharkiv official

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

 A couple in front of a house damaged by shelling on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 10.
 A couple in front of a house damaged by shelling on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 10. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv military administration, says more settlements to the north of the city have been retaken by Ukrainian troops.

One soldier posted on his Telegram channel Wednesday a video from a village about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north-west of the city.

"In the north, our armed forces are liberating our settlements. After Tsirkuny there are already Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshky, Bairak and Rubizhne," Syniehubov said.

All the settlements are villages between Kharkiv and the Russian border to the north.

Video geolocated by CNN show signs of a chaotic Russian retreat from the area at the beginning of the month, with several vehicles half submerged in a river after a road bridge was struck.

In some areas to the north and east of Kharkiv, Ukrainian units, which include highly mobile contingents of the Azov Regiment, are within a few kilometers of the Russian border.

Syniehubov warned civilians that it was still dangerous to return to the area.

"The enemy mined everything: kindergartens, schools, private homes. Unfortunately, two women were blown up by a mine in Tsirkuny, in their own backyard," he added.

Despite being under Ukrainian control, much of the area is still within range of Russian artillery fire.

Syniehubov also said that there had been relative silence in the city of Kharkiv, but settlements to the south-west had come under fire.

7:19 a.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Russia does not want war in Europe, its foreign minister says

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on March 17.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on March 17. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia does not want a continent-wide war in Europe, but added a note of caution surrounding the intentions surrounding the Western governments supporting Ukraine.

“If you are concerned about the prospect of war in Europe, we absolutely do not want this, but I draw your attention to the fact that West constantly insists that Russia must be defeated in this situation. Draw your own conclusions,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov appeared to be referring to comments like those from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said last month that Washington wants "to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine."

Russia has continually tried to justify its invasion of Ukraine as a fight against Ukrainian neo-Nazis and NATO's expansion into eastern Europe, forces that, according to the Kremlin, pose an existential threat.

Lavrov has previously alluded to the danger of a wider war -- even a nuclear one -- rhetoric that US President Joe Biden called "irresponsible."

Energy exports: Speaking alongside Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi following talks in Muscat on Wednesday, Lavrov said that Moscow has enough buyers of its energy resources, as the European Union considers banning Russian oil imports.

"We have enough buyers of our energy resources. We will work with them and let the West pay them much more than it paid to the Russian Federation and explain to its population why they should become poorer," he said.