May 12, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Jessie Yeung, Travis Caldwell, Adrienne Vogt, Seán Federico O'Murchú, George Ramsay, Jack Guy and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 3:21 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022
9 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:59 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Russia is the "most direct threat" to world order, says European Commission president

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh and Junko Ogura

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference during the EU-Japan summit in Tokyo, on Thursday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference during the EU-Japan summit in Tokyo, on Thursday. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool/Getty Images)

Russia's behavior in Ukraine and abroad is the greatest threat to global stability, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday.

Russia "is today the most direct threat to the world order with a barbaric war against Ukraine and its worrying pact with China and their call for new, and very much arbitrary, international relations,” von der Leyen told reporters after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and European Council President Charles Michel in Tokyo. 

Michel and von der Leyen are in Tokyo for the 28th EU-Japan summit, during which their support for Ukraine was high on the agenda. 

"Our cooperation in Ukraine is critical in Europe, but it’s also important in the Pacific and we also want to deepen our consultation on a more assertive China," Michel told reporters. "We believe that China must stand up to defend the multilateral system that it has benefited from in developing its country." 
Michel also said "those responsible for war crimes must be and will be brought to justice."

Speaking alongside von der Leyen and Michel, Kishida told reporters, "Russia’s aggression against Ukraine shakes the very foundation of the entire international order, not just for Europe, but for Asia as well, and can never be condoned.”

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Japan and the European Union have imposed a series of sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of President Vladimir Putin and his family members.

1:53 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine faces bombardments "almost every day," mayor says

From CNN's Travis Caldwell and Niah Humphrey

A woman walks in front of a hotel which was destroyed by shelling, on April 21, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.
A woman walks in front of a hotel which was destroyed by shelling, on April 21, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. (Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images)

The mayor of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine told CNN on Wednesday that his city’s proximity to the battlefields between Russian and Ukrainian forces in nearby Kherson means bombardments have occurred “almost every day.”

“They launch rockets, and in three minutes they are over our city,” said Mayor Oleksandr Syenkevych.

The frontlines have remained relatively stationary for two weeks, he said, and officials are expecting more aerial attacks since both militaries have taken defensive positions.

Mykolaiv is about 56 miles (90 km) north of Kherson, which has been under Russian control.

Syenkevych strongly disputed Russian reports that residents in areas under their control wish for Russian rule, adding he knows the previous mayor of Kherson who was replaced after the city was seized and that those claims are not true.

"I'm sure that no one wants to go to Russia," Syenkevych said. "People want to be part of Ukraine, but for sure Russian TV and Russian propagandists will say they want to go to Russia. No one wants to go to Russia."

Some context: Last week, Ukraine claimed to have won back some settlements along the border of the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, which have been subject to intense battles since the invasion began.

12:36 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Video shows Russian soldiers killing 2 civilians before they ransack a business

From CNN's Sara Sidner, Sandi Sidhu, Vasco Cotovio, Kostyantyn Gak and Oleksandra Titorova

CNN has obtained surveillance video of what is now being investigated as a war crime by Ukrainian prosecutors, showing Russian soldiers shooting two unarmed civilians as they walked away after an encounter in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Both civilians died after the heartless shooting that goes against the so-called rules of war that outlaw the targeting of civilians. CNN has identified the victims. One was the owner of the vehicle dealership that was looted, whose family does not want to be named. The other was Leonid Oleksiyovych Plyats, a 68-year-old grandfather who worked as a guard there.

His daughter, Yulia, cannot bear to watch the video of the day her father died, but she is saving it to one day show her children, so they don't forget how savage the invaders were.

"They are executioners," she told CNN. "It's awful because my father was a civilian, he was 68, a peaceful unarmed man."

Read more about the killings here:

12:26 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

It's 7:25 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

The struggle over the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol continues, with all the civilians believed to have been evacuated -- though injured soldiers remain inside. Meanwhile, fighting continues in the east of the country, with Ukrainian forces blowing up bridges to counter the Russian advance.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Civilians out of Azovstal: A Ukrainian captain in the besieged steel plant told CNN on Wednesday he believes all civilians sheltering inside are now out -- but added it's difficult to make a full assessment across the massive facility, given the constant bombardment from Russian forces.
  • Ukraine offers an exchange: Ukraine has offered to release Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the evacuation of injured Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal plant, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister said on Wednesday. She added there is no agreement yet, and negotiations are underway regarding the proposal.
  • The risk of returning to Kyiv: The mayor of the Ukrainian capital said he had "no doubt" the city was still Russia's "main target," saying on Wednesday that residents returning should be cautious. As long as the war continued, "we can't give you guarantee" of safety, he said.
  • Russian civilian reported killed: For the first time, a civilian in Russia has reportedly died as a result of cross-border shelling from Ukraine, according to Russian authorities.
  • Ukraine blocks Russian efforts: Ukrainian forces blew up two pontoon bridges in the last 24 hours, stopping Russian efforts to cross a river in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's topography — specifically its rivers — has proven a logistical nightmare that's hampered Russian military advances for weeks.
  • An undisclosed message: The US Ambassador to Russia visited the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow on Wednesday to deliver a message, according to a US State Department. The meeting was to discuss bilateral issues, the official said, without detailing what specific issues were discussed.
12:14 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Journalists responsible for publishing articles critical of Putin on pro-Kremlin outlet speak to CNN

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

The newsroom in Moscow.
The newsroom in Moscow. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Journalists Yegor Polyakov and Aleksandra Miroshnikova, working for Russian online newspaper, told CNN that the idea to publish dozens of articles critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin came about because they couldn't continue working as usual with the war in Ukraine raging on.

The articles were published to, a pro-Kremlin news outlet in Russia, on May 9. It coincided with Russia's Victory Day, a major national holiday in the country that celebrates the surrender of the Nazis in Berlin during World War II. 

The two journalists published a number of articles with headlines such as "Putin unleashed one of the bloodiest wars of the 21st century" and "Vladimir Putin lied about Russia's plans in Ukraine."

"The idea came to us almost at the same time," the two told CNN in a statement. "We did not even have to discuss with each other the need for this decision. It was simply impossible to continue to work as usual when people are dying in a neighboring country." 

"Some people say, 'We had no other choice but to keep working,'" the statement said. "We had no choice but to do what we did. It was the only right decision for us." 

Fearful of reprisals against their families in Russia, the two journalists would not go into details of how they published the articles. But they said they have been hard at work for the last week, sleeping only two to five hours a day. 

"The articles that we have published are not just catchy headlines, they are well-thought-out materials, with all links, with visual inserts," the two said. 

It's unclear whether the two journalists have been fired from, but they say that they no longer have access to the site's publishing tools.  

"Perhaps this will have serious consequences for us," they said — but added that they hope others in Russia will be inspired to do the same. For now, the two say they are no longer in Russia. 

"I don't know what's next," Miroshnikova said. "I am in another country, completely alone, I have some small savings to live on for a few months. But I have no idea what to do, where to go and how to live on. Hope I will figure it out."  

While both have received positive responses from some readers thanking them and offering them shelter, others — namely colleagues and family members — were less supportive.

"For me personally, the situation is quite difficult, because many of my relatives did not approve of my decision at all," Miroshnikova said. "Someone considered it a betrayal, someone just stupidity, because of which I will be left without a job and any future."

12:05 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Kyiv mayor says he can't guarantee safety of returning residents

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko speaks with CNN on Wednesday May 11.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko speaks with CNN on Wednesday May 11. (CNN)

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko tells CNN's Erin Burnett he worries about the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin using a tactical nuclear weapon on Kyiv.

"Safety is the main priority right now ...Yes of course we worry, and we hope our warriors defend us, but the risk is still there and without our partners, without United States and European countries we can't survive," Klitschko said.

He also said there is "no doubt" the capital of Ukraine is still Russia's "main target."

The mayor warns residents coming back to Kyiv to be cautious saying, "... as mayor of Kyiv I tell to anyone, sorry, it's your personal risk, but we can't give you guarantee ... So long as there's war in Ukraine we can't give the guarantee for any Ukrainian."

He said Russian attacks could happen "any second."

Klitschko added that war "changed life for everyone" and he says he is keeping his fingers crossed to "stop this senseless war as soon as possible."

3:21 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Ukrainians eliminate at least 2 pontoon bridges near Bilohorivka, satellite and drone images show

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Tim Lister, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Katie Polglase


The Ukrainians have — twice in the last 24 hours — stopped Russian efforts to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in the Luhansk region, blowing up two pontoon bridges near Bilohorivka.

A satellite image collected by geospatial intelligence firm BlackSky shows a Russian pontoon bridge crossing the river on May 10 shortly after a Ukrainian artillery barrage hit the surrounding area.

Smoke is seen rising from the western shore of the Siverskyi Donets River at one end of the bridge. On the eastern bank, craters and smoke are also seen on the eastern shore, including around Russian military vehicles that crossed over.

(From Telegram)
(From Telegram)

(From Telegram)
(From Telegram)

Grainy drone video circulating on social media, geolocated and its authenticity verified by CNN, shows the aftermath of the strikes. The military strikes destroyed the bridge, which is seen half-sunk in the river. 

Additional photos circulating on social media, also taken by a drone, show the Russians tried to erect a second pontoon bridge across the river. That bridge, too, was blown up by the Ukrainians in addition to a number of military vehicles.  

(From Telegram)
(From Telegram)

Traversing Ukraine's topography — specifically its rivers — has repeatedly proven a logistical nightmare that's hampered Russian military advances for weeks, across numerous parts of Ukraine. In more remote areas, or in places that bridges have been blown up, they have resorted to utilizing pontoon bridges.

These bridges have repeatedly been targeted and blown up by Ukrainian forces. 

CNN has previously reported the bridge first appeared on May 8.

Serhiy Hayday, the Luhansk regional military administrator, said on Wednesday that the Russians are continuing to try to construct bridges across the Siverskyi Donets River. He also said that the Ukrainians have repeatedly blown them up.  

11:57 p.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Russian civilian reported killed in shelling of Belgorod

From CNN's Tim Lister and Mariya Knight

For the first time, a civilian in Russia has reportedly died as a result of cross-border shelling from Ukraine, according to Russian authorities.

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that "one person was killed during shelling of the village of Solokhi."

Solokhi is a village 10 kilometers (about 6.2 miles) from the Ukrainian border. 

"The population of the village of Solokhi will be taken to a safe place under the leadership of the head of the district, Vladimir Pertsev, and the head of the regional Ministry of Emergency Situations, Sergey Potapov," Gladkov said.

Some context: Belgorod region has seen several explosions in recent weeks that appear to have been caused by missiles and bombs. Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied being responsible for the blasts. 

Last week, Gladkov said five houses had been destroyed in another village, Nekhoteevka.

"Today there are just under 30 people left in the settlement," he said. "We have already evacuated most of the people to safety."

11:56 p.m. ET, May 11, 2022

Ukraine offers Russia an exchange of Russian prisoners of war for injured Ukrainians in Azovstal 

From CNN's Hira Humayun

Ukraine has offered Russia to release Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the evacuation of injured Ukrainian soldiers from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Wednesday.

In a Facebook post, Vereshchuk said there is no agreement yet and negotiations are underway regarding the proposal.

"As of now, it is impossible to raise the blockade of Azovstal by military means. Azovstal defenders shall not yield themselves prisoners. It is worthy of respect. Russians won't hear of the extraction. This is a reality but coming from the Russians, it is not surprising," she wrote.

She said the government is working out different options to get Ukrainian soldiers out of Azovstal but that none of the options are "ideal."

"We are not looking for an ideal option, but a working one," Vereshchuk said.