May 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Helen Regan, Jack Guy, Matias Grez and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 19, 2022
17 Posts
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9:31 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

Ukrainians who surrendered at Azovstal should face trial, says DPR leader

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

Buses carrying members of Ukrainian forces who have surrendered from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, Ukraine, drive away under escort of the pro-Russian military on May 17.
Buses carrying members of Ukrainian forces who have surrendered from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, Ukraine, drive away under escort of the pro-Russian military on May 17. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The fate of Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol should be decided in court, according to Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).

As for war criminals and those who are nationalists, if they laid down their arms their fate should be decided by the court," said Pushilin, reports Russian state news agency TASS.

"Regardless of the emotions of some [people], I heard various opinions. If an adversary laid down their arms, their fate is decided by a court," he added. "If this is a Nazi criminal, then by a court martial."

Most of the soldiers at Azovstal who surrendered are being held in DPR territory at Orlenivka.

On Tuesday, Russian investigators announced they would interrogate those described as "the surrendered militants" who were evacuated from the Azovstal plant.

6:38 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

It's a struggle to get vital food supplies out of Ukraine

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Alex Marquardt and Jennifer Hansler

The Biden administration is working closely with European allies to try to develop routes to get Ukrainian wheat and corn out of the country after Russia blocked Ukrainian ships from departing with grain that is vital for food supplies around the world, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

There is no silver bullet to solve the complicated challenge, and officials are considering a wide array of options to get the food exports safely out by rail, sea and air, two US diplomats and four European diplomats told CNN.

Possible scenarios are being studied and devised whether Russia consents or not.

This is far from a done deal. There are so many moving pieces, so many things could go wrong with these discussions," another official familiar with the discussions said.

Read the full story here:

6:17 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

The world's largest aircraft owner lost more than 100 planes to Russia due to sanctions

From CNN's Chris Isidore

AerCap Holdings, the aircraft leasing giant that is the world's largest owner of jets, lost 113 planes when Russia seized them in response to sanctions triggered by the war in Ukraine.

The seizures of the planes and 11 jet engines by Russian authorities caused AerCap to take a $2.7 billion pre-tax charge during the quarter, causing the company to report a net loss of $2 billion rather than the $500 million profit it would have made without the hit.

But company executives said the quarter was actually a good one and they see better times ahead as global demand for flying continues to recover from the Covid pandemic.

Read the full story here:

6:10 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

Europe is still working out how to pay its Russian gas bills

From CNN's Anna Cooban

Europe can't make up its mind on how to pay for Russia natural gas imports that continue to fuel homes, businesses and power stations.

The confusion centers on the logistics of the payments themselves. Several European gas buyers have been preparing to work around the Kremlin's demand that gas bills be paid in rubles, rather than the euros or dollars stipulated in contracts.

According to Russia's new payment mechanism, buyers in "unfriendly" countries must open two accounts at Gazprombank -- one in euros and the second in rubles, from which payments for the gas would be made.

But on Tuesday, the European Commission said companies opening an account in Russia's Gazprombank to allow their payments to be converted into rubles would fall foul of EU sanctions.

That statement appeared to contradict guidance the Commission gave just four days earlier, which led some of Europe's biggest energy companies to assume they could get around the currency issue by opening two accounts with the Russian bank.

It comes as several large European companies are attempting to pay their bills on time without violating sanctions.

Read the full story here:

5:43 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

Russian gymnast banned for a year after wearing pro-war symbol on podium

From CNN's Ben Church in London

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who received criticism outside of Russia for wearing a pro-war symbol on a podium next to a Ukrainian athlete, has received a one-year ban for his actions.

The 20-year-old wore a 'Z' symbol taped to his leotard while standing next to ​Ukrainian gymnast ​Illia Kovtun on a podium in March -- Kovtun won gold and Kuliak picked up bronze in the parallel bars at the gymnastics World Cup event in Doha, Qatar.

The 'Z' insignia has been displayed on tanks and vehicles used by the Russian military and has become a symbol of support for the invasion of Ukraine.

The International Gymnastics Federation criticized Kuliak for his "shocking behavior" and has now been banned for 12 months by the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation and told he must return his medal.

Read the full story here:

5:11 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

Russia says nearly 1,000 Ukrainians have surrendered at Azovstal steel plant

From CNN's Tim Lister in Lviv

The Russian Defense Ministry says nearly 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol since Monday.

Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that a total of 959 Ukrainian soldiers, including 80 wounded, had laid down their arms and surrendered since May 16.

He reaffirmed that 51 wounded were sent to the hospital at Novoazovsk, which is in the self-declared region of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).

Konashenkov said that in the past day alone 694 Ukrainian "militants" had surrendered at Azovstal.

The DPR gave similar figures, saying that altogether 962 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered since May 16.

CNN is unable to confirm the Russian tally.

The Ukrainian side has not given an update on the number who have left Azovstal nor on the status of negotiations for their exchange for Russian prisoners.

Most of the Azovstal soldiers appear to have been taken to Olenivka, a town near the front lines but in territory controlled by the DPR.

Some background: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday the negotiation process on evacuating the last soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant continues with Russia.

It follows the end of Ukrainian forces' "combat mission" at the complex, which was for weeks the last major holdout in a city otherwise occupied by Russian troops.

Ukraine said it expects to carry out an exchange of Russian prisoners of war for the severely injured soldiers.

4:50 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

War in Ukraine is "a wake-up call" to fix global energy system, says UN chief

From CNN's Angela Dewan

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria, on May 11.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria, on May 11. (Lisa Leutner/Reuters)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has announced a plan to speed up the world's switch to renewable energy, saying that the war in Ukraine was a wake-up call for the globe to ditch fossil fuels.

Speaking at the launch of the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate 2021 report, Guterres described the findings as “a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption.”

“The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe. Fossil fuels are a dead end -- environmentally and economically,” he will say, according to prepared remarks. 

“The war in Ukraine and its immediate effects on energy prices is yet another wake-up call. The only sustainable future is a renewable one. We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition, before we incinerate our only home,” he said, adding “time is running out.”

In his plan, Guterres proposed:

  • 1. That renewable energy technologies, such as battery storage, be treated as “essential and freely-available global public goods.��� He called for a global coalition on battery storage to fast-track innovation and deployment, driven by governments and bringing together tech companies, manufacturers and financiers.
  • 2. To secure, scale up and diversify the supply of critical components and raw materials for renewable energy technologies.  
  • 3. Governments must build frameworks and reform bureaucracies to level the playing field for renewables. 
  • 4. Governments must shift subsidies away from fossil fuels to protect the poor and most vulnerable people and communities. 
  • 5. Private and public investments in renewable energy must triple to at least $4 trillion dollars a year. 
3:42 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

Baltic states endorse Finland and Sweden for NATO membership

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

The leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania endorsed "the historic decisions" by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership in a joint statement on Wednesday.

"Finland and Sweden share the same values that bind the NATO Allies together, and share our commitment to the principles that constitute the foundation of Euro-Atlantic security," the leaders said.
"The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO will enhance our collective security and strengthen the Alliance."

The statement was made by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjanis Karinš, and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.

"The Baltic States together with Finland and Sweden share the responsibility for peaceful, secure, and prosperous Nordic Baltic region," they said.

"In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the NATO's role as a defensive Alliance that strives for peace, security, and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic has become even more important. We are looking forward to working together with Finland and Sweden within the Alliance to achieve these goals."
4:52 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022

Finland and Sweden hand in applications to join NATO

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

Finland's Ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen, left, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, center and Sweden's Ambassador to NATO Axel Wernhoff, right, attend a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for NATO membership in Brussels, Belgium, on May 18.
Finland's Ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen, left, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, center and Sweden's Ambassador to NATO Axel Wernhoff, right, attend a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for NATO membership in Brussels, Belgium, on May 18. (Johanna Geron/Reuters)

Finland and Sweden have handed in their applications to join NATO, the military alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

"The applications you have made today are an historic step. Allies will now consider the next steps on your path to NATO," Stoltenberg said after receiving the applications from the Finnish and Swedish ambassadors at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
"The security interests of all allies have to be taken into account and we are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions."

Stoltenberg made the comments alongside Klaus Korhonen, the ambassador of Finland to NATO, and Axel Wernhoff, the ambassador of Sweden to NATO.