May 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Nectar Gan, Tara John, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt and Joe Ruiz, CNN

Updated 0405 GMT (1205 HKT) May 15, 2022
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2:25 p.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Director of Odesa hotel struck by Russian missile laments pro-Russian past

From Sanyo Fylyppov

Odesa businessman Sergey Demidov used to be a prominent member of the pro-Russian Party of Regions, which was in power in Ukraine from 2010 to 2014.

Now, he prefers to forget that part of his life.

Demidov is apoplectic about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As the director of the Grand Pettine hotel complex on the beach, that's perhaps inevitable — as a large section of it was demolished last week by a Russian cruise missile.

Demidov told CNN that the irony of the attack was not lost on him. Ten years ago, when pro-Russian factions in Ukraine were powerful, the Grand Pettine welcomed prominent Russian political figures and media personalities. When the pro-Russian movement in Odesa was at its peak during that time, the complex held conferences dedicated to the brotherhood of Ukraine and Russia. One was called "Challenges of the global crisis: the unity of Ukraine and Russia."

"Many Russian politicians, many famous Russian people came here, stayed here," he said. "Russian political scientists, Russian deputies, all these scoundrels came here."

"Everyone could see that the hotel did not have any ammunition or troops deployed there. This is a health-entertainment-tourist complex. Apparently, those who direct these missiles do not understand at all where they are sending them," Demidov said.
"This missile attack put us out of work for at least a year," he said. 

As for his current political outlook, Demidov said: "I am Ukrainian, I am a patriot of Odesa, I am 100% Ukrainian!"

The four-star hotel is owned by a German company.

2:12 p.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Swedish foreign minister to meet with Turkish counterpart about Ankara's reservations on NATO membership

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan and Per Nyberg

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde said Saturday she now expects to have a bilateral meeting with her Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, after Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday he is not looking at Finland's and Sweden's moves to join NATO "positively," accusing both counties of housing Kurdish "terrorist organizations."

Çavuşoğlu has said Ankara's stance is clear: "Those countries should not support PKK/YPG terrorist groups," according to the Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu on Saturday.

The PKK, or Kurdistan Worker's Party, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been in an armed struggle with Turkey for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Following Saturday's informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, Linde said in comments to Swedish broadcaster SVT that "we have a very good and constructive relationship."

"We have met several times before, and we have never heard of any problems in case we were to apply for NATO membership. But now, there are new signals from the president. So I will try to get to the bottom of what this is about and if there are any misunderstandings," she said.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Saturday that he spoke with Linde, as well as Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto, ahead of Sunday's formal NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin. Stoltenberg said via Twitter that "Finland and Sweden are our closest partners, and we discussed developments regarding their possible applications for membership. NATO enlargement has been a historic success."

2:03 p.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukrainian city of Odesa warns about a sea mine close to shore

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

Restrictive tape blocks access to a beach in Odesa, Ukraine, on May 8.
Restrictive tape blocks access to a beach in Odesa, Ukraine, on May 8. (Viacheslav Onyshchenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Odesa's city council warned residents about a sea mine floating just off one of the city's beaches.

"Being tens of meters from the shore, it does not pose a direct threat," the council said, "but once again it reminds of the dangers of swimming and other uses of coastal waters."

The Black Sea port city said the mine would be dealt with by disposal specialists but told residents that "for your own safety, you should not approach the beaches and the coast, go out on the water with the use of watercraft and even for swimming."

The council said the threat of missile strikes also remains.

1:00 p.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Finland wants to keep border with Russia "peaceful," foreign minister says at NATO meeting

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in London

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks to reporters as he arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on May 14, in Berlin, Germany.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks to reporters as he arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on May 14, in Berlin, Germany. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

Finland wants to keep its border with Russia peaceful, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Saturday, affirming the need to maintain communication with the Kremlin as the Nordic nation inches closer to joining NATO.

“We have a 1,300-kilometer [about 800 miles] border with Russia,” he told reporters in Berlin, where he was invited to join a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. “The border is peaceful and we want to maintain that border peaceful. It’s very important that we communicate with our neighbor.” 

Asked about Turkey being against Finland joining NATO, Haavisto said he called Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday to “take the tensions down” and will continue discussions with him at the NATO meeting on Saturday. 

He conceded that any NATO member could “block the process,” therefore it is important to maintain “good contacts” with everyone. 

Turkey, which has presented itself as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, has signaled an unfavorable view on Finland and Sweden possibly joining NATO, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing the nations of housing Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”

Nevertheless, Haavisto said Saturday he is “confident that in the end, we will find a solution and Finland and Sweden will become members of NATO.” 

 

Previous reporting from CNN's Talia Kayali in Atlanta, Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Samantha Tapfumaneyi in London contributed to this post.

12:38 p.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Finland is moving toward a NATO bid. Catch up on the latest on those developments and the war in Ukraine

It's after 7:30 p.m. in Ukraine. Here's what's happened on Saturday so far.

Finland makes moves toward NATO: Finland's President Sauli Niinistö told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the Nordic nation will decide "to seek NATO membership in the next few days," Niinistö's office said in a statement.

Putin said it would be a "mistake," according to the Kremlin, adding "it may have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations." Russia previously warned Finland, which it shares an 800-mile border with, that it “will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard,” according to its foreign ministry.

Russia also suspended power exports to Finland, Finnish operator Fingrid confirmed to CNN on Saturday. Fingrid brushed off the cut, as Russian electricity amounts to a small fraction of the country’s total consumption. 

Programming note: CNN's Dana Bash will interview the Finnish president on Sunday's "State of the Union" at 9 a.m. ET.

GOP senators in Kyiv: A delegation of Republican US senators, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky said on his Instagram account that the visit "is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people."

The visit comes as Congress has been trying to pass a roughly $40 billion aid bill that would provide Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance.

Combat moves: The Ukrainian military said Russian forces are retreating from the northern Kharkiv region. A fierce counterattack has taken back a number of villages in the area east of Kharkiv. 

But a Ukrainian lawmaker called on the United States to provide air defense systems and fighter jets to Ukraine, saying that the situation on the battlefield is "far worse" than it was at the beginning of the war. 

Meanwhile, satellite imagery and firsthand testimony have provided a fuller picture of the multiple and disastrous efforts by Russian forces to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine over the past week. New video and analysis of drone and satellite imagery show that the Russians may have lost as many as 70 armored vehicles and other equipment in attempting to cross the river early this week. Their goal was to try to encircle Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region, but it failed. 

Azovstal families appeal for extraction: The relatives of Ukrainian soldiers still holed up in Mariupol's Azovstal plant are appealing to Chinese President Xi Jinping to act as a mediator to help extract their loved ones, following a similar plea to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

"Our children are in hell," one father said at a press conference in Kyiv.

A Ukrainian fighter inside the plant told Ukrainian TV about horrific conditions for the wounded, saying that "fighters are simply lying without limbs, without arms, without legs." Conditions are unsanitary and there is no medicine, the solider said.

Ukraine's deputy prime minister said the government would welcome the prospect of Turkish or Chinese mediation in helping to arrange the evacuation of wounded soldiers from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol.

12:23 p.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukraine welcomes possible Turkish role in evacuating wounded from Azovstal

From CNN's Tim Lister and Hande Atay Alam

People walk near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12.
People walk near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukraine's deputy prime minister said the government would welcome the prospect of Turkish or Chinese mediation in helping to arrange the evacuation of wounded soldiers from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol.

Iryna Vereshchuk said on Ukrainian television that "the Turkish side could really be a mediator in extraction issues. We are talking now about the seriously injured and this is a question to the ICRC [International Red Cross]. If Turkey can be a mediator in this matter as well, that would be good."

"If Xi Jinping can influence, that would be good too. We hope for the best," she said. 

Vereshchuk said that if Turkey or China were not involved, "at least a document should be signed by ICRC representatives who, under the Geneva Conventions, have the authority to monitor the process and moreover, to be leaders in this process."
"We want a document to be signed, how exactly the evacuation from Azovstal will take place," setting out a corridor that will operate and allow the severely wounded soldiers to be taken to Zaporizhizhia.

Vereshchuk spoke as Turkey's presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, was outlining one option for the evacuation.

"We have had a number of plans, proposals. The first one was to get the soldiers from Mariupol to Berdiansk, and from the Berdiansk port to the ship from Istanbul, bring them here to Turkey. That offer is still on the table," he said. Berdiansk is controlled by the Russians and is about 50 miles west of Mariupol. 

"The boat is still in Istanbul. It is ready to sail but we are waiting for final clearance from the Russian and the Ukrainian sides for it to go to Berdiansk and bring those injured soldiers to Turkey," Kalin said. 

11:40 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

"Our children are in hell": Families of soldiers still in Azovstal share messages with loved ones inside plant

From CNN's Daria Markina in Kyiv

The relatives of Ukrainian soldiers still holed up in Mariupol's Azovstal plant are appealing to Chinese President Xi Jinping to act as a mediator to help extract their loved ones, following a similar plea to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

After a press conference with the families in Kyiv, Stavr Vishnyak told CNN that his son Artem, 21, is fighting inside Azovstal.

“Our children are in hell. We ask the world community again and again to make the extraction procedure. The petition to save Mariupol has collected one-and-a-half million signatures. We have already reached out to everyone. Only Xi Jinping remained. We ask president of China to mediate, intervene and become a peacemaker in this war. Our heroes have almost no time left. Our warriors have already been to hell. Give them the opportunity to step on the earth and see the sun," Vishnyak said.
Stavr Vishnyak and his wife, Tatyana, have a 21-year-old son in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. They are part of the families who are asking the Chinese and Turkish leaders to help facilitate the extraction of remaining soldiers in the plant.
Stavr Vishnyak and his wife, Tatyana, have a 21-year-old son in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. They are part of the families who are asking the Chinese and Turkish leaders to help facilitate the extraction of remaining soldiers in the plant. (Daria Markina/CNN)

A Ukrainian soldier inside the plant described horrific conditions for the wounded on Ukrainian TV on Saturday, saying that "fighters are simply lying without limbs, without arms, without legs." Conditions are unsanitary and there is no medicine, the solider said.

Alina Volovik shows a photo of her and her husband, Artem, who is inside the Azovstal plant.
Alina Volovik shows a photo of her and her husband, Artem, who is inside the Azovstal plant. (Daria Markina/CNN)

Soldier Alina Volovik, 25, told CNN that she last saw her Marine husband, Artem, 29, in mid-February. She said she drove to Kyiv overnight from Mikolaiv to join the appeal to save him and others from Azovstal. They've been together for four years and have a 2-year-old daughter.

On Thursday, her husband wrote to her that he was alive, Volovik said. When she receives a message from him, she said she is both happy and cries at the same time.

"He has been defending our country since 2014. After this contract, he was going to resign. ... We are doing everything possible and impossible to save our men," she said.

A message from Alina Volovik's husband Artem, who is inside the Azovstal plant.
A message from Alina Volovik's husband Artem, who is inside the Azovstal plant. (Daria Markina/CNN)

His last message reads: "Hello, honey. I'm all right. There is no internet, so I wrote a message through a friend. How are you? How are parents? Greetings to all. Are you getting my money? Write something and drop the photo. I love you very much and I miss you all, my dear."

Volovik said that her love for him keeps her going.

"When it becomes difficult, I say to myself in the mirror, 'He is strong, he will endure everything and he will definitely come back to me,'" she said.
Anna Ivleva said she last spoke with her husband Anton, who has been fighting in Azovstal, in April.
Anna Ivleva said she last spoke with her husband Anton, who has been fighting in Azovstal, in April. (Daria Markina/CNN)

Anna Ivleva, 30, said that she and her 32-year-old husband Anton, a Marine, last spoke to each other in April. He told her he was in Azovstal and seriously wounded. She said he told her he would not surrender and wanted to set an example for their four sons.

"On April 24, he wrote that the situation was very critical, that he did not want to send vain hopes of return, and said that I should be happy and raise our sons properly," she said.

His fellow soldiers later wrote that he was still alive.

12:28 p.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Zelensky welcomes US Senate delegation led by Minority Leader McConnell to Kyiv

From CNN's Tim Lister 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with the US Senate delegation led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 14.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with the US Senate delegation led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 14. (From Andrij Sybiha, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine/Facebook)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed to Kyiv a congressional delegation led by US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

Zelensky said on his Instagram account that the visit "is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people."

He added: "Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our struggle not only for our country, but also for democratic values and freedoms. We really appreciate it."

Also seen meeting Zelensky in video and photographs on the president's official social media accounts are Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas. 

It's unclear whether the meeting took place Saturday and whether the delegation is still in Kyiv.

Zelensky also "expressed hope that the US Senate will promptly approve a package of additional funding to support the Ukrainian people, which has already been considered in the House of Representatives and increased from $33 billion up to $39.6 billion," according to his office.

10:08 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Photos appear to show Russian ship allegedly struck by Ukraine is back in home port

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova 

A pro-Russian Telegram account has posted images purporting to show that the Russian support ship allegedly struck by Ukrainian fire this week is undamaged and in port in Sevastopol in Crimea, the home of the Russian Black Sea fleet.

On Thursday, the Odesa Regional Administration said that the ship, named Vsevolod Bobrov, was on fire near Snake Island and being towed to Sevastopol.

The Telegram account, called Black Sea Fleet, posted Saturday that the "logistic support vessel 'Vsevolod Bobrov' of the Black Sea Fleet returned to its native Sevastopol today. Itself, on its own at 18 knots, and calmly reached the pier." 

"Those who wish to search for some kind of mythical 'damage' are invited to look," it said.

CNN cannot verify when the photographs of the ship were taken.