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
33 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:27 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

First on CNN: Russian ship caught on satellite images moving stolen Ukrainian grain from Crimea to Syria

From CNN's Tim Lister, Sanyo Fylyppov and Paul P. Murphy

The bulk carrier Matros Pozynich is seen at the Syrian port of Latakia on May 8.
The bulk carrier Matros Pozynich is seen at the Syrian port of Latakia on May 8. (Maxar Technologies)

A Russian merchant ship loaded with grain stolen in Ukraine has been turned away from at least one Mediterranean port and is now in the Syrian port of Latakia, according to shipping sources and Ukrainian officials.

CNN has identified the vessel as the bulk carrier Matros Pozynich.

On April 27, the ship weighed anchor off the coast of Crimea and turned off its transponder. The next day, it was seen at the port of Sevastopol, the main port in Crimea, according to photographs and satellite images.

The Matros Pozynich is one of three ships involved in the trade of stolen grain, according to open-source research and Ukrainian officials.

Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, produces little wheat because of a lack of irrigation. But the Ukrainian regions to its north, occupied by Russian forces since early March, produce millions of tons of grain every year. Ukrainian officials say thousands of tons are now being trucked into Crimea.

Kateryna Yaresko, a journalist with the SeaKrime project of the Ukrainian online publication Myrotvorets, told CNN the project had noticed a sharp increase in grain exports from Sevastopol to about 100,000 tons in both March and April.

From Sevastopol, according to satellite images and tracking data reviewed by CNN, the Matros Pozynich transited the Bosphorus strait and made its way to the Egyptian port of Alexandria. It was laden with nearly 30,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat, according to Ukrainian officials.

But the Ukrainians were one step ahead. Officials say Egypt was warned that the grain was stolen, and the shipment was turned away. The Matros Pozynich steamed toward the Lebanese capital of Beirut with the same result. The ship turned off its transponder again on May 5, but imagery from Tankertrackers.com and Maxar Technologies shows it traveled to the Syrian port of Latakia.

The Ukrainian defense ministry estimates that at least 400,000 tons of grain has been stolen and taken out of Ukraine since Russia's invasion.

Continue reading here:

8:20 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Shell sells Russian retail and lubricants business to Lukoil

From CNN's Robert North

Attendants serve customers on the forecourt of a newly opened gas station, operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, in Kemerovo, Russia, on September 14, 2018.
Attendants serve customers on the forecourt of a newly opened gas station, operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, in Kemerovo, Russia, on September 14, 2018. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Shell has announced plans to sell some of its Russian businesses to Lukoil, the country’s second biggest oil producer.

The deal will include 411 retail gas stations and a lubricant blending plant in Torzhok, which is 200 kilometers (124 miles) north-west of Moscow.

No details were given on the financial terms of the deal, which is expected to be completed later this year.

On March 8, Shell announced plans to withdraw from all of its Russian energy businesses in a phased manner.

In April the company revealed that its exit from Russia could cost it as much as $5 billion.

"Under this deal, more than 350 people currently employed by Shell Neft will transfer to the new owner of this business," said Huibert Vigeveno, Shell’s downstream director, in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, German engineering firm Siemens also announced plans to exit Russia. 

"We join the international community in condemning the war in Ukraine and are focused on supporting our people and providing humanitarian aid," said Roland Busch, Siemens president and CEO. "Today, we announced our decision to carry out an orderly process to wind down our industrial business activities in Russia."

8:10 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

"Everyone wants to avoid" direct clash between Russia and NATO, Kremlin says

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

The Kremlin said on Thursday that "everyone wants to avoid" a direct clash between Russia and NATO, but added that Russia will be ready to give "the most decisive response" to those who would try to get involved in the so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine.

"Everyone wants to avoid a direct clash between Russia and NATO: Both Russia and NATO, and, most importantly, Washington," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call.

"At the same time, Russia will be ready to give the most decisive response to the side that tries to somehow get into Ukraine and get into the special operation being carried out by the Russian armed forces," he added.

7:46 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Kremlin says foreign energy companies that fall under Russia’s sanctions won't participate in gas supplies

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt and Anna Chernova

A compressor station of the Jagal natural gas pipeline near Mallnow, Germany, on April 28. The Jagal is the German extension of the Yamal-Europe pipeline that transports Russian natural gas to Germany via Poland though no Russian gas has arrived at Mallnow since April 8.
A compressor station of the Jagal natural gas pipeline near Mallnow, Germany, on April 28. The Jagal is the German extension of the Yamal-Europe pipeline that transports Russian natural gas to Germany via Poland though no Russian gas has arrived at Mallnow since April 8. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Foreign energy companies under Russian sanctions won't be able to participate in gas supplies, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

"Blocking sanctions have been introduced. Therefore, there will be no relations with these companies, they are simply prohibited," Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call, commenting on the decree published the day before.

On Wednesday, the Russian government approved a list of 31 foreign companies -- all current or former subsidiaries of Russian state gas company Gazprom -- which are now subject to special economic measures, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.

Among the companies on the list are Gazprom Germania GmbH, Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd., and the operator of the Polish part of the pipeline Yamal-Europe.

German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Thursday that Germany had found alternative suppliers to Gazprom Germania.

''Last night Putin published a decree that European gas suppliers will now be sanctioned by Russia. In Germany, Gazprom and its subsidiaries are affected, which means that some of the subsidiaries now no longer receive gas from Russia,'' Habeck told the German parliament without providing further details on the alternative suppliers.

7:53 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Russia "waging war against our children," says Ukrainian first lady

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

At least three people have died and 12 were injured after a school and a boarding school were shelled at night by Russian forces in the northern Ukrainian city of Novhorod-Siversky, Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska said, as she accused Russian of "waging war against our children."

"Tonight, the Russian army fired rockets from a plane at a school and boarding school in the city of Novhorod-Siversky, Chernihiv region. Rescuers are currently working there, but we already know of 3 dead and 12 injured. The bombing was aimed. The Russians, who claim to be attacking only military installations, are waging war against our children. In fact, they are waging war against our future," Zelenska said in a Telegram post Thursday.

She added that, according to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, 1,635 educational institutions in the country have been affected by bombing and shelling, with 126 being completely destroyed.

"Whether Russia's actions in Ukraine are genocide is currently being debated around the world. Instead of answering, look at the map. Every day a new school or kindergarten appears there, which was deliberately destroyed with unprecedented cynicism by the Russians," she said.

What Russia says: According to the Russian defense ministry, its armed forces used high-precision air-based missiles to hit four command posts, 34 areas of concentration of Ukrainian manpower and military equipment, as well as two ammunition depots near Novhorod-Siversky. 

"The attacks have resulted in the elimination of more than 320 nationalists and up to 72 armored and motor vehicles," the defense ministry said during a briefing on Thursday.

7:33 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Ukraine welcomes positive changes in Germany's position, says Ukrainian foreign minister

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, center, speaks between Lars Klingbeil, left, SPD federal chairman, and Rolf Mützenich, right, chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, after talks in the Bundestag, Berlin, Germany on May 12.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, center, speaks between Lars Klingbeil, left, SPD federal chairman, and Rolf Mützenich, right, chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, after talks in the Bundestag, Berlin, Germany on May 12. (Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba praised Germany's response to the war with Russia, saying Germany has now moved in ''the right direction'' following tensions between Kyiv and Berlin.

''We see an evolving position of Germany on the most important issues -- this position is moving into the right direction,'' Kuleba told reporters in Berlin Thursday.

This could be the supply of weapons to Ukraine or the sanctions that need to be imposed against Russia, he said. "We see the positive dynamic.''

In recent months, the German government and Chancellor Olaf Scholz have come under pressure from Ukraine and politicians at home for not doing enough to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

But at the end of April, Germany agreed to deliver Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, and last week it said it will supply Ukraine with seven self-propelled howitzers.

While relations between the two countries have improved, ''we have to make sure that the positive dynamic is maintained and we all move forward and that right decisions are being taken,'' Kuleba said. 

The decision about Ukraine's membership of the European Union, due to be taken at the European summit at the end of June, will largely define the future of Europe, he said.

''The EU needs Ukraine as much as Ukraine needs the EU,'' Kuleba said. 

8:10 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

It's 2 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Finland continues to move towards membership of NATO. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he commends Finland’s "readiness" to join NATO, while the Kremlin said it would see Finland's accession to the military alliance as a threat.

On the ground, all the civilians are believed to have been evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant.

Here are the latest updates from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

Finland’s NATO membership: Finland's leaders announced in a joint statement on Thursday that they are in favor of applying for NATO membership, moving the Nordic nation closer to joining the alliance. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, public support for joining NATO in Finland, which shares an 800-mile border with Russia, has leaped from around 30% to nearly 80% in some polls.

Sweden could be next: It is also expected that Sweden, Finland’s neighbor to the west, will soon announce its intention to join NATO. Sweden's foreign minister said Thursday that the country will "take Finland’s assessments into account." Russia has warned both countries against joining the alliance, saying there would be consequences.

Support for Finland: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Finland would be "warmly welcomed" into the alliance. Meanwhile, NATO members Denmark and Estonia said they would support Finland’s membership, with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen saying it "will strengthen NATO and our common security."

Moscow's reaction: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Russia would see Finland's accession to the NATO as a threat and the move would not contribute to more security. Russia will analyze the situation with Finland's entry to NATO and will work out the necessary measures to ensure its own security, he added.

Azovstal evacuation: All the civilians who were sheltering in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant have likely been evacuated, according to a Ukrainian officer inside the facility. However, the officer added that it's difficult to make a full assessment of the situation across the plant given the constant bombardment from Russian forces.

Ukraine offers 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 that there is no agreement yet as negotiations are underway regarding the proposal.

Russian civilian reportedly 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.

8:10 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Finland joining NATO is a threat to Russia, says the Kremlin

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Russian BMD-4M infantry fighting vehicles and BTR-MDM armoured personnel carriers drive in Red Square during a military parade on Victory Day in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9.
Russian BMD-4M infantry fighting vehicles and BTR-MDM armoured personnel carriers drive in Red Square during a military parade on Victory Day in central Moscow, Russia, on May 9. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

Russia would see Finland's accession to the NATO military alliance as a threat and the move would not contribute to more security, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

"As we have said many times before, NATO expansion does not make the world more stable and secure," Peskov told reporters after Finland’s top politicians announced their support for an application for NATO membership.

Peskov added that Russia’s reaction will depend on the development of NATO military infrastructure.

"It will depend on what this expansion process will entail, how far and how close to our borders the military infrastructure will move," Peskov said.

Russia will analyze the situation with Finland's entry to NATO and will work out the necessary measures to ensure its own security, he added.

8:43 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Finland would be "warmly welcomed into NATO" if it applies for membership, says NATO chief

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and James Frater in London

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on March 24. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

Finland would be "warmly welcomed into NATO," said the military alliance's chief Jens Stoltenberg after the country's top politicians said they wanted to join.

"This is a sovereign decision by Finland, which NATO fully respects. Should Finland decide to apply, they would be warmly welcomed into NATO, and the accession process would be smooth and swift," said Stoltenberg, according to his office.

"Finland is one of NATO's closest partners, a mature democracy, a member of the European Union, and an important contributor to Euro-Atlantic security," he added. 

Earlier Thursday, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin issued a joint statement announcing their support for a Finnish application to join NATO.

Stoltenberg said he agreed with the analysis from Niinisto and Marin "that NATO membership would strengthen both NATO and Finland's security." 

He emphasized that Finnish accession to NATO would show "that NATO’s door is open, and that Finland decides its own future."