May 16, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, May 17, 2023
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8:45 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

American citizen killed in Ukraine identified

From CNN's Haley Britzky and Alex Marquardt 

A retired US Army Special Forces soldier has been identified as the American citizen killed by Russian artillery in the embattled city of Bakhmut this week, according to a close friend and the founder of a non-profit group working in Ukraine.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Maimer served more than 20 years in uniform before retiring in 2018, according to his service record provided to CNN.

Maimer had been in a building in Bakhmut that was hit by artillery fire, Retired Lt. Col. Perry Blackburn told CNN. Blackburn said they later learned that the building had collapsed, and Ukrainians who were with Maimer believed he was either trapped in the collapsed building or killed by a "barrage" Russian artillery fire. 

"They got in the position that they were, artillery started coming in heavy and the building started to collapse. That’s when most of the Americans and Ukrainians there were able to escape," said a friend of Maimer, an American in Ukraine. "Unfortunately, Nick was not able to escape.”

video posted to Telegram on Tuesday by the private Russian military company Wagner Group appeared to show the group's leader inspecting a body and showing what he claimed were US identification documents. The leader of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says in the video that the American was “shooting back” when he was killed in Bakhmut. 

“So we will hand him over to the United States of America, we’ll put him in a coffin, cover him with the American flag with respect because he did not die in his bed as a grandpa but he died at war and most likely a worthy [death], right?” Prigozhin said.

Maimer’s family did not return CNN’s request for comment, though his uncle, Paul, confirmed to the Idaho Statesman that the body in the video was Maimer’s. 

7:11 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

White House doesn't plan on asking for more Ukraine funding before September despite concerns

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Kylie Atwood

The White House says it is not currently planning to ask Congress for new Ukraine funding before the end of the fiscal year at the end of September, pitting administration officials against some lawmakers and congressional staffers who are concerned that the funds could run out by mid-summer.

“Thanks to the bipartisan Congressional support for Ukraine, we believe we have the resources we need through the end of this fiscal year,” a White House spokesperson told CNN. “As we get closer to the end of the fiscal year, we’ll reevaluate and determine what additional resources are needed.”

The White House statement comes amid some anxiety on Capitol Hill about what they say is the administration’s lack of clarity on the issue.

Administration officials told CNN they anticipate the White House’s Office of Management and Budget will have to ask Congress for more Ukraine funding once the current batch – approved by Congress in December – runs out.

White House and Pentagon officials told CNN they are anticipating having to ask Congress for more funding, but want to first determine how to distribute the money they already have.

To date, the US has dispersed weapons and supplies to Ukraine through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which draws directly from Pentagon weapons stocks and requires replenishment funding.

Congressional staffers told CNN that based on how much the administration has been spending every month, they believe the remaining funds could run out sooner than September — and they have not yet heard from administration officials about whether the White House will request additional funding once that money is depleted.

The staffers also said they are concerned that the administration is waiting to see whether Ukraine is successful in its much-anticipated counteroffensive before committing any more funds to the war.

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5:51 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Air raid siren sounded late Tuesday night in Kyiv

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

An air raid siren sounded in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv late on Tuesday night. The siren was active for about an hour before ending. 

Four air targets were moving toward Kyiv during the alert, according to local monitoring groups. 

Air raid alerts remain active in the regions of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro and Donetsk.

6:50 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Normal work has resumed at the occupied power plant in Zaporizhzhia, Russian official says

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

A view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from the right bank of the Dnipro river in Enerhodar, on Sunday.
A view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from the right bank of the Dnipro river in Enerhodar, on Sunday. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Workers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have resumed “normal operations” after the May holidays, according to a Russian official.

The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March last year.

“Employees of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are going to work after the May holidays are over. Faces look happy and rested, ready to keep working for the good of our Motherland," Andrey Matveev, deputy head of communications at the plant, said Tuesday.

There have been contradictory reports about the evacuation of civilians from the town, which is close to the front lines.

Before the May holidays, Ukrainian officials said buses were evacuating civilians from the nearby city of Enerhodar. It’s unclear how many people may have left. They also claimed that the Russians were removing equipment — such as medical machinery — from the town.

Olga Kurlaeva, a Russian journalist reporting from the occupied region, said that rumors of the “mass transfer” of people were unconfirmed and that “everything that should work is working. And people are coming back, let's say, after a long weekend.”

It’s not possible to verify how many people may have left the region ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive. Ukrainian officials said some who had left for Berdiansk further south had returned to their homes because conditions in temporary accommodation were so poor.

 CNN’s Sam Kiley contributed to this report.

6:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Ukraine's capital was hit by a barrage of Russian missiles. Here's what else to know

From CNN staff

Russia is launching larger aerial attacks from several directions at once, targeting command and control centers in Kyiv and other high-value locations, a US official said.

Ukrainian forces say they have liberated parts of the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut.

Here are the top headlines to know:

  • Air raid in Kyiv: The Ukrainian capital was struck by a missile attack that was “exceptional in its density, with the maximum number of missiles in the shortest time possible,” said Serhiy Popko the head of the Kyiv city military administration. Popko added that “the vast majority of enemy targets in Kyiv’s airspace were detected and destroyed."
  • US Patriot missile hit: The Russian Defense Ministry claimed it destroyed a US-made Patriot air defense system in Kyiv in a missile strike Tuesday morning. However, Ukraine said it intercepted all 18 Russian missiles launched at the country in the early hours of Tuesday morning, including six Kinzhal missiles — a claim Russia's defense minister denied. A US official said the system was likely damaged, but not destroyed and the US is assessing the extent of that damage.
  • Battle in Bakhmut: Ukrainian forces have liberated substantial areas to the north and south of the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar claimed. Russia’s attempted offensive actions around the city have been “unsuccessful,” according to the Ukrainian General Staff. However, Maliar acknowledged that Russia is also making advances in Bakhmut, bringing in paratroopers and "destroying the city with artillery."
  • Use of UK weapons: Ukrainian forces have begun using long-range "Storm Shadow" missiles provided by the United Kingdom to strike Russian targets, two US officials and a Western official said. The Storm Shadow is a long-range cruise missile with stealth capabilities, jointly developed by the UK and France, which is typically launched from the air. 
  • Western support: The Council of Europe, the main European body governing human rights on the continent, met at its fourth summit in almost 75 years on Tuesday, with a "top priority" of supporting Ukraine against Russia’s war. Meantime, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department would not rule out designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its accused atrocities in Ukraine. The UK and the Netherlands also say they are working to build an "international coalition" to help Ukraine procure F-16 fighter jets.
  • Grain deal deadline looms: Efforts are ongoing to extend a deal to allow the safe export of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, the United Nations aid chief said. It is set to expire on Thursday if not renewed — something that is critical to limit "future shock" to the security of global food supplies, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement on Tuesday.
4:44 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Russia expends more munitions to overwhelm and confuse Ukrainian air defenses, US official says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Natasha Bertrand

Russia is expending more munitions than usual in an attempt to overwhelm and confuse Ukrainian air defenses, according to a US official familiar with the matter.

Russia launched larger aerial attacks from several directions at once, the official said, targeting command and control centers in Kyiv and other high-value locations.

Russia may have begun the expanded attacks in an attempt to force Ukraine to delay its highly-anticipated counteroffensive, the official said. But Ukraine has been able to withstand the attacks, intercepting a high percentage of the incoming missiles and drones with the layered air defenses provided by Western nations.

The expanded attacks may even work to Ukraine’s advantage, the official said, as Russia dips deeper into its limited supply of precision munitions.

On Tuesday, Russia unleashed a barrage with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles launched from fighter jets, Kalibr cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea, and land-based Iskander missiles, the head of Ukraine’s military said. The attack came from the north, south and east. The attack likely damaged – but did not destroy – a Patriot system, another official told CNN, as the US assesses the extent of the damage.

Earlier this month, Ukraine used its newly-delivered Patriot missiles to intercept a hypersonic Kinzhal missile, marking the first time the US-made missile interdicted a weapon Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed was impossible to stop.

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky said Ukraine needs “a bit more time” before it begins its counter-offensive.

7:37 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

UK and Netherlands working to build international coalition to help Ukraine procure F-16 fighter jets

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

A Belgian Air Force F-16 is seen flying over the Rinkven International Golf Club on May 12, in Anterwp, Belgium.
A Belgian Air Force F-16 is seen flying over the Rinkven International Golf Club on May 12, in Anterwp, Belgium. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are working to build an "international coalition" to help Ukraine procure F-16 fighter jets "at this pivotal moment in the resistance to Putin’s invasion," according to the Downing Street readout of the leaders' meeting Tuesday. 

“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Rutte agreed they would work to build international coalition to provide Ukraine with combat air capabilities, supporting with everything from training to procuring F16 jets," a Downing Street spokesperson said, following Sunak and Rutte's meeting at the Council of Europe Summit in Iceland. 

Sunak also "reiterated his belief that Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO and the leaders agreed on the importance of allies providing long-term security assistance to Ukraine to guarantee they can deter against future attacks," according to the spokesperson. 

Ukraine swiftly welcomed the news of the international coalition talks.

“We need F-16s and I am grateful to our allies for their decision to work in this direction, including training our pilots. In particular, Belgium has confirmed its readiness to train," said Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, on Telegram.

Speaking in the United Kingdom Monday, Zelensky welcomed promises of fresh military aid from European leaders – but renewed his demands to be provided with modern fighter jets. Ukraine is hankering for US-made F-16s to help secure its skies, but some of its allies have been reluctant to offer weapons that would allow Kyiv to reach Russian soil.

Following his visit with the British prime minister Monday, Zelensky hinted that Ukraine is closer to receiving F-16s, saying that Ukraine and the UK "continue to work on the fighter jet coalition," and "we're actively moving forward."

Zelensky also thanked Great Britain for agreeing to train Ukrainian pilots.

Julia Kesaieva contributed reporting.

4:08 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023

Russian defense minister denies Ukraine shot down 6 Kinzhal missiles

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu denied Ukraine shot down as many as six hypersonic Kinzhal missiles in the early hours of Tuesday.

"The Russian Federation has not launched as many 'Kinzhals' as they allegedly shoot down every time when making their statements," Shoigu told Russian state media RIA Novosti.

He said the number of intercepts claimed by Ukraine was “three times more than [the missiles] we are launching."

"And they get the kind of missile wrong all the time,” Shoigu claimed. “That's why they don't hit them."

Ukrainians said they intercepted all 18 Russian missiles launched at the country in the early hours of Tuesday morning, including six Kinzhals.