May 17, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Rhea Mogul, Lianne Kolirin, Sana Noor Haq and Matias Grez, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022
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7:12 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Railway infrastructure damaged as Russian missiles target western Ukraine, say regional officials 

From CNN's Andrew Carey, Tim Lister, Roman Tymotsko, Taras Zadorozhnyy and Sofiya Harbuziuk in Lviv

Russian missiles targeted western Ukraine overnight damaging railway infrastructure close to the border with Poland, according to the head of the Lviv regional military administration. 

Maksym Kozytskyi said the location hit was near the town of Yavoriv, which is also home to a large military base. He said there were no reports of casualties. 

Air defense systems shot down three missiles, he added. 

City mayor Andriy Sadovyi said that no sites in the city of Lviv itself had been struck. 

On Twitter, Sadovyi said there had been two missile salvos on the region overnight. Air defenses had worked well, Sadovyi said, adding that it was not clear if the city itself had been a target. 

A series of explosions were heard in central Lviv around 00:45 local time (5:45 p.m. ET), shortly after air raid sirens had sounded in the city. A member of CNN’s team in the city saw air defenses lighting up to the northwest -- in the direction of Yavoriv about 25 miles away. 

Yavoriv has been struck at least three times since the start of the war. In the first attack, on the military base there, on March 13, more than 30 people were killed. 

Sites in Lviv have also been hit by Russian missiles strikes in recent weeks, including an aircraft parts plant, a fuel depot and several electrical substations. 

5:05 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Sweden signs application for NATO membership

From CNN's Per Bergfors Nyberg 

Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde signs Sweden's application for NATO membership at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm on May 17.
Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde signs Sweden's application for NATO membership at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm on May 17. (Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency/AP)

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde on Tuesday morning signed an application declaring the country wants to join NATO.

The move marks a formal step by Stockholm toward joining the US-led military alliance — ending decades of military neutrality — as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparks a dramatic evolution in European security and geopolitics.

"It feels very big, very serious, and it feels like we have arrived at a conclusion which is the best for Sweden," Linde said.
"We don’t know how long it will take, but we calculate that it could take up to a year.
“Now this week, this application will be submitted, together with Finland, in a day or so, and then it will be processed by NATO.” 

Some context: Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Monday that the country should join NATO together with neighboring Finland to "ensure the safety of Swedish people."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the entry of the two Nordic countries into NATO will not create a threat to Russia, but military expansion into the territory will "certainly cause our response."

3:22 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Kharkiv official says Ukrainian forces are advancing in the northeast

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Ukrainian service personnel ride on top of an armoured vehicle amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 16.
Ukrainian service personnel ride on top of an armoured vehicle amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 16. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

Ukrainian soldiers are advancing to the north and northeast of Kharkiv, according to the head of the northeastern city's regional military administration, as a weeks-long counter-attack gathers pace.

Oleh Syniehubov told Ukrainian television Tuesday that fighting was underway northeast of Ukraine's second-largest city, toward the town of Vovchansk, along the Russia-Ukraine border.

The town has become a resupply route for Russian forces as they try to sustain their offensive into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions further south. Disrupting that supply line could compromise the Russians' ability to reinforce their offensive towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

"Active hostilities are taking place in settlements north of the region," Syniehubov said. "The enemy is focused on holding positions. Our troops have to repel (them on) every inch of our territory."

Syniebuhov added that Ukrainian advances had helped reduce — but not eliminate — Russian artillery attacks on Kharkiv. There had been "relative silence for the last two weeks," Syniebuhov said. "However, the enemy sometimes hits with artillery strikes."

There were strikes in the Saltivka and Shevchenkivskyi districts close to Kharkiv on Monday, Syniebuhov added.

"Two people were killed and nine were injured in the past 24 hours," he said.

Syniebuhov said Russian shelling of other parts of the Kharkiv region continued.

3:14 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Ukraine says many casualties in Russian missile strikes north of Kyiv, but attacks in east repulsed

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday there had been heavy casualties in Russian missile strikes far from the front lines, but on the ground Russian efforts to advance were being repulsed.

In the Chernihiv region north of Kyiv, Vyacheslav Chaus, head of the military administration, said the Russians "fired missiles at the village of Desna this morning. There are dead and many wounded."

It's unclear what the target was. Chaus gave no further details. Desna is some 40 miles (about 64 kilometers) from the border with Belarus. 

Russian missile and artillery strikes have increased in several border areas recently as a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast gathers momentum.

In the northeastern Sumy region, the General Staff of the Ukrainian military said Tuesday that Russia had fired artillery across the border.

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, head of the Sumy region military administration, said Russian sabotage and reconnaissance groups had tried to cross the border. "There was a very serious battle. Mortars, grenade launchers, small arms were used," he said.

Russian officials also reported exchanges in the area. Roman Starovoit, governor of Russia's Kursk region, said that at dawn Tuesday, large-caliber weapons were fired at a border village and several houses were damaged. He said there were no casualties and Ukrainian border guards had fired back.

Along the front lines in Luhansk and Donetsk, Ukraine reports continuing efforts by Russian forces to advance in several areas but all claims were repelled. The General Staff said in the heavily contested area around Severodonetsk, the Russians had attacked the town of Syrotne but "suffered losses during the fighting and withdrew its forces."

But artillery fire and airstrikes continued.

The head of the Luhansk military administration, Serhii Hayday, said the Russians hit two hospital buildings and a production facility in Severodonetsk and there were also airstrikes in the Popasna area. Altogether, he said, 10 civilians were killed in the latest shelling.

The main hospital in Severodonetsk had been hit again, Hayday said, while airstrikes in villages further west had destroyed several homes. Video from the area shows large craters among heavily damaged houses. 

Russian casualties: Vadym Denysenko, an adviser at the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, told Ukrainian television Tuesday that "enemy losses are numerous."

"The main events are now around Severodonetsk. The enemy is trying to make an operational encirclement," he said.

He also said overnight missile strikes in the far west of Ukraine had struck a district near Lviv, but provided no further details.

4:19 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

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

Buses carrying Ukrainian service members from the  Azovstal steel mill drive away under escort of the pro-Russian military in Mariupol, on Monday.
Buses carrying Ukrainian service members from the  Azovstal steel mill drive away under escort of the pro-Russian military in Mariupol, on Monday. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

After nearly three months under relentless attack from Russia, Ukrainian forces have completed their "combat mission" in the besieged city of Mariupol, according to a statement by the country’s military.

Here's the latest:

  • Mariupol on the brink: Commanders of Ukrainian units stationed in Mariupol's massive Azovstal steelworks plant have been ordered “to save the lives of their personnel,” according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as they announced the end of their "combat mission" in the besieged southern city. Hundreds of people were evacuated on Monday from the steel plant, the final holdout in a city that had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.
  • Missile attack in western Ukraine: A Ukrainian military base about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Poland was targeted in a Russian missile attack early Tuesday morning, according to Maksym Kozytsky, head of the Lviv regional military administration. He gave no further details in a late-night Telegram post.  
  • Putin responds to Nordic nations' NATO moves: The Russian President said the entry of Sweden and Finland into the US-led alliance will not create a threat to Russia, but military expansion into the territory will "certainly cause our response." The Swedish government said on its website that it has decided to apply for NATO membership, following a similar declaration from Finland on Sunday.
  • But Turkey may block their bids: Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that he would not approve Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership if they sanction Ankara. It follows comments by Erdogan last week that he was not looking "positively" at the prospect of the two Nordic countries joining NATO, accusing both Sweden and Finland of housing Kurdish "terrorist organizations."
  • Russian oil ban and sanctions: European Union leaders were unsuccessful in reaching unanimity on banning Russian oil during a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers, Josep Borrell, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said Monday. Borrell said “unhappily” it was not possible to reach an agreement on a sixth sanctions package against Moscow.
  • Economic hit: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will cause European growth to slow and inflation to rise at a faster than expected rate, according to the latest EU Commission economic forecasts. It said the war has caused commodity prices to rise, disrupted supply chains and increased uncertainty.
9:10 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Russian missiles target military base in Western Ukraine, official says

From CNN's Andrew Carey, Tim Lister, Roman Tymotsko, Taras Zadorozhnyy and Sofiya Harbuziuk in Lviv

A Ukrainian military base about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Poland was targeted in a Russian missile attack early Tuesday morning, according to information from Maksym Kozytsky, the head of the Lviv regional military administration.

Kozytsky gave no further details in a late-night Telegram post, saying only that further information would be released in the morning.  

A series of explosions were heard in central Lviv around 12:45 a.m. local time (5:45 p.m. ET), shortly after air raid sirens had sounded in the city. A member of CNN’s team in the city saw air defenses lighting up to the northwest — in the direction of the Yavoriv military facility about 40 kilometers away.

In his first Telegram statement shortly after the all-clear sounded at 1:15 a.m. local time (6:15 p.m. ET), Kozytsky said only that air defense systems had responded to the attack. Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, in a post on his Facebook page, said he could not confirm any information about possible missile strikes in Lviv itself. 

Yavoriv has been targeted at least three times since the start of the war. In the first attack on March 13, more than 30 people were killed. 

Sites in Lviv have also been hit in Russian missiles strikes, including an aircraft parts plant, a fuel depot and several electrical substations.

8:23 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Ukraine declares "combat mission" over in Mariupol amid evacuation

From CNN's Tim Lister, Taras Zadorozhnyy, Victoria Butenko and Jack Guy

A wounded service member of Ukrainian forces from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol is transported on a stretcher out of a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian militayt in Novoazovsk, Ukraine, on Monday.
A wounded service member of Ukrainian forces from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol is transported on a stretcher out of a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian militayt in Novoazovsk, Ukraine, on Monday. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian forces have completed their “combat mission” in the besieged city of Mariupol, according to a statement by the country’s military.

Commanders of units stationed at the city’s massive Azovstal steelworks plant have been ordered “to save the lives of their personnel,” the statement by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also said.

Hundreds of people were evacuated on Monday from the steel plant, the last holdout in a city that had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance under relentless Russian bombardment.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar described the evacuation operation in a separate video statement, noting that some Ukrainian forces remain at Azovstal.

“Fifty-three seriously injured people were evacuated from Azovstal to a medical facility in Novoazovsk for medical care,” she said. “Another 211 people were taken to Olenivka through the humanitarian corridor.”

An “exchange procedure” will see the evacuees eventually brought home, Malyar also said.

“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday in a statement about the evacuation, thanking the Ukrainian military and negotiators, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations.
“The 82nd day of our defense is coming to an end. A difficult day. But this day, like all others, is aimed precisely at saving our country and our people,” Zelensky said.

The Russian Defense Ministry had earlier said that a ceasefire had been established to allow the passage of wounded Ukrainian servicemen, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.

Read more:

8:22 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Erdogan says he will not approve Sweden and Finland's NATO membership if they sanction Turkey

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Zahid Mahmood in London

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a welcoming ceremony for his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in Ankara, Turkey on May 16.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a welcoming ceremony for his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in Ankara, Turkey on May 16. (Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he would not approve Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership if they sanction Ankara. 

“First of all, we would not say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey joining NATO, which is a security organization. Because then NATO would not remain a security organization anymore, it becomes a place where representatives of the terror concentrate,” Erdogan said. 

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Erdogan said Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Turkey to try to convince Turkey to approve the country’s NATO membership. 

Turkey’s foreign minister held “some” meetings with Swedish and Finnish counterparts, Erdogan said, adding that none of the two countries had a clear stance against terror organizations.

“Even if they say ‘we are against them,’ on the contrary they have statements saying that they do not hand over the terrorists that they need to hand over to Turkey,” he said. 
He added that Sweden is a “nest” for terror organizations, saying it allows terrorists to speak in parliaments. 
“They have special invitations to terrorists. They even have pro PKK MPs in their parliaments. How are we going to trust them?”

Erdogan reiterated the same stance last week when he told a news conference in Istanbul that he was not looking at the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining NATO “positively,” accusing both countries of housing Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”

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 European Union.