May 11, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Christian Edwards, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Matt Meyer and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, May 12, 2023
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4:08 a.m. ET, May 11, 2023

Ukraine claims success in the east as south braces for counteroffensive. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

A grab from a video of Yevgeny Prigozhin released on May 9.
A grab from a video of Yevgeny Prigozhin released on May 9. (Concord Press Service/Reuters)

The Ukrainian military says its troops are conducting "effective counterattacks" in the Bakhmut area after they inflicted "huge losses" on Russian forces Wednesday.

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin conceded that Ukrainian forces have been able to advance south of the eastern city and he accused one Russian unit of fleeing from the fight, leading to many casualties among his mercenaries.

The 72nd brigade "just ran the hell out of there," Prigozhin said.

If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments:

  • Eastern battles: The Ukrainian military said Russian offensives were repelled around Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mariinka in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces claimed they had taken the village of Kamianka, north of Avdiivka, where Ukrainian troops have been surrounded on three sides for several months.
  • In the south: Russia's defense ministry and a Russia-backed official claimed Wednesday that Russian forces hit a Ukrainian ammunition in the Zaporizhzhia region, which has seen a rise in shelling by both sides in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Meanwhile, Ukraine's military said Russian forces were conducting "defensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions," and had carried out a number of airstrikes.
  • Nuclear staff blocked: Ukraine's military said Russian soldiers are preventing employees of the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from evacuating a nearby frontline town with their families. Russia-backed authorities have ordered the evacuation of thousands of civilians along the southern front as the Ukrainian counteroffensive looms.
  • Alleged cross-border attacks: The governors of Russia's Belgorod and Bryansk regions said they were attacked by drone strikes Wednesday. No casualties were reported. Russian officials in regions bordering Ukraine have reported an uptick in cross-border drone strikes in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces appear to target Russian fuel depots and supply lines.
  • War crime probe: France has opened a war crimes investigation following the death of AFP journalist Arman Soldin in Ukraine, a statement from the country's antiterrorism prosecution office said Wednesday. Soldin, 32, was killed Tuesday in a rocket attack near Bakhmut.
  • Global repercussions: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s war in Ukraine is informing China's calculations on a possible invasion of Taiwan. His remarks came after Japan's foreign minister told CNN that Tokyo is in talks to open a NATO liaison office, the first of its kind in Asia, citing instability brought by the war.
  • Beijing's view: Meanwhile, China's foreign minister warned against an "emotional" view of the war in Ukraine, saying on a visit to Germany that "the only way out is to remain calm and rational and create conditions for a political solution." Beijing has claimed neutrality over the war and called for peace, but it has also refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and has accused NATO and the United States of fueling the conflict.
12:41 p.m. ET, May 11, 2023

Trump won't say whether he wants Russia or Ukraine to win the war

From CNN's Jack Forrest

Former President Donald Trump participates in a CNN Republican Town Hall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, May 10.
Former President Donald Trump participates in a CNN Republican Town Hall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, May 10. CNN

Former US President Donald Trump, who is running to retake the White House in 2024, would not say Wednesday night who he thinks should prevail in Russia’s war against Ukraine, instead telling New Hampshire GOP primary voters that he wants “everybody to stop dying.”

“I want everybody to stop dying. They’re dying. Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying,” Trump said at CNN’s town hall moderated by “CNN This Morning” anchor Kaitlan Collins. “And I’ll have that done in 24 hours.”

Trump, who would not say whether he wants Ukraine to successfully deter Russia when pressed by Collins, told the audience gathered at Saint Anselm College that he doesn’t “think in terms of winning and losing.”

“I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people,” he said.

Read the full story here.

9:00 p.m. ET, May 10, 2023

Drone strikes hit Russia's Belgorod and Bryansk regions, governors say

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Additional drone attacks were conducted over Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post Wednesday.

Two drones detonated and fell over a residential area in the region, Gladkov said. No casualties were reported, but two residential buildings and a car were damaged, he added.

Another drone was shot down by Russian air defense systems over the region, Gladkov said. The governor said there were no casualties and that response teams are assessing the aftermath on the ground.

A drone strike hit Bryansk, another Russian region on the Ukraine border, said Bryansk Gov. Alexander Bogomaz.

Bogomaz said there were no casualties, and that an administrative building was struck in Stardoub. Response teams are working on site, he added.

12:28 a.m. ET, May 11, 2023

Operation in Ukraine has been "very difficult," Kremlin says

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Hira Humayun

Dmitry Peskov attends a conference in Moscow, Russia, on December 23, 2021.
Dmitry Peskov attends a conference in Moscow, Russia, on December 23, 2021. Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

The “special military operation” in Ukraine has been what Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described as “very difficult,” but said certain goals have been achieved over the past year.

Speaking to Bosnian Serb channel ATV in remarks carried by Russian state news agency TASS on Wednesday, Peskov said Russia is acting “slowly” In Ukraine because it is conducting a “special military operation, not a war.”

He acknowledged Ukraine’s stronghold in the eastern city of Bakhmut and said “a large amount of AFU troops are concentrated there, which is constantly receiving reinforcements.”

Peskov said the West has made “many mistakes” and “deceived Russia,” which prompted Russia to launch the operation in Ukraine — something he said the West became a participant in.

He maintained that the recent drone attacks on the Kremlin were an “attempted terrorist attack” against Russian President Vladimir Putin. By doing so, Peskov insisted, Ukraine has “equated itself with the state sponsors of terrorism.”

He said Russia will implement all necessary security measures following the incident. Ukrainian officials and the United States have repeatedly denied being behind a drone attack on the Kremlin.

Referring to the International Criminal Court warrant issued against Putin earlier this year, Peskov said, “It's difficult to imagine that anyone in the world would seriously consider issuing an ICC warrant against Putin, the leader of a nuclear power.”

Peskov told the channel that his country is “too strong a state” to give up its positions under pressure from the West, and said the Kremlin would not communicate with Western media “until they begin to show some interest in the truth.”

8:49 p.m. ET, May 10, 2023

Russia conducted unsuccessful offensives in multiple areas, Ukraine military says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Yulia Kesaieva

The Russian offensive is concentrated in four different parts of the Donetsk region, with the "fiercest battles" in the cities of Bakhmut and Mariinka, according to the Ukrainian military's General Staff.

Russia conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in Bakhmut and the Avdiivka and Mariinka areas, it said. Russian forces claimed earlier Wednesday that they had taken the village of Kamianka, north of Avdiivka, where Ukrainian forces have been surrounded on three sides for several months.

Further south — where observers expect a Ukrainian counteroffensive to be focused — Russian forces are conducting “defensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions,” and had carried out a number of airstrikes, the General Staff said.

Settlements close to the front lines had also been shelled, including 35 airstrikes and four attacks from MLRS [rocket systems] on the positions of Ukrainian troops and settlements of the Kherson region, it added.

The General Staff also claimed that Russians were evacuating civilians in the town of Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia region to "terrible living conditions" further south.

“Russian occupiers, under the pretext of evacuating civilians, continue to take away looted property from the frontline settlements of the Zaporizhzhia region,” it said, adding that medical institutions in the city of Enerhodar had been looted.

The Ukrainian air force had carried out several strikes, it said, including against a Russian electronic warfare unit. The Ukrainians appear to be trying to disrupt both Russian military communications and electronic warfare capabilities ahead of a counteroffensive.

12:43 a.m. ET, May 11, 2023

Wagner boss fumes that Russian brigade "fled" from Bakhmut area

From CNN's Tim Lister, Uliana Pavlova and Christian Edwards

Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves a cemetery in Moscow, Russia, on April 8.
Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves a cemetery in Moscow, Russia, on April 8. Yulia Morozova/Reuters

The boss of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused a Russian brigade of abandoning its position in frontline Bakhmut, allowing Ukraine to seize territory.

The remarks are the latest in a series of public criticisms from him of Moscow’s Ministry of Defense for the faltering invasion of Ukraine — and, in particular, the failure to capture the city of Bakhmut. But while Prigozhin has frequently poured scorn on the Russian military and its leadership, he has not previously accused Russian units of running from battle and allowing Ukrainian forces to recapture territory.

Prigozhin said the 72nd brigade “just ran the hell out of there.”

Responding to questions from a Russian media outlet, Prigozhin said: “There is a serious risk of encirclement of PMC Wagner in Bakhmut as a result of the failure of the flanks. The flanks are already cracking and falling through.”

“At the moment, within the city of Bakhmut, there is only Wagner PMC, there are no other units. Outside Bakhmut [there is] only the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. PMC Wagner is not there,” he said.

Bakhmut is the site of a months-long assault by Russian forces, including Wagner mercenaries, that has driven thousands from their homes and left the area devastated. But despite the vast amounts of manpower Russia has poured into capturing the city — using tactics that have been compared to a “meat grinder” — they have been unable to take total control, and on Wednesday suffered heavy losses in the area.

Read more here.