May 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Jack Guy, Matias Grez, Adrienne Vogt, Veronica Rocha, Aditi Sangal and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022
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7:27 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

"Many dead" following missile strike in a village in the Chernihiv region, Zelensky says in nightly address

From CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton

A uniformed soldier stands near a crater in the middle of a courtyard in Desna, Chernihiv, on Tuesday, May 17.
A uniformed soldier stands near a crater in the middle of a courtyard in Desna, Chernihiv, on Tuesday, May 17. (Courtesy of Operation Command North/Handout/Reuters)

In the Chernihiv region north of Kyiv, the village of Desna was hit with Russian missiles Thursday left many dead, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday. Desna is 40 forty miles from the border with Belarus.  

“Russian strikes on Chernihiv region, in particular the terrible blow on the Desna, there is an analysis of debris, many dead,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday. 

There are “constant strikes on the Odesa region, on the cities of central Ukraine, the Donbas is completely destroyed — all this has no and cannot have any military explanation for Russia,” he continued.  

“This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible,” he said. 

The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to advance in the liberation of the Kharkiv region, Zelensky said. 

“In the Donbas, the occupiers are trying to increase pressure. There's hell, and that's no exaggeration. The brutal and absolutely senseless bombing of Severodonetsk ... There were 12 dead and dozens wounded in just one day,” he continued. 

“The bombing and shelling of other cities, the air and missile strikes of the Russian army — all this is not just fighting during the war.” 

“This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible. Destroy as many houses, social facilities and enterprises as possible. This is what will qualify the genocide of the Ukrainian people and for which the occupiers will definitely be brought to justice,” he added. 

 “The first trial in Ukraine against a Russian war criminal has already begun. And it will end with the full restoration of justice within the international tribunal. I'm sure of it. We will find and bring to justice all those who give and carry out criminal orders,” he concluded. 

5:23 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

The US Ukraine aid bill will be flown to Korea where Biden will sign it into law 

From CNNs Kaitlan Collins

US President Joe Biden will sign the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine while he is in South Korea, an official says.

The bill has to be flown to Korea for the President’s signature.

Biden embarked on his trip to Seoul, South Korea on Thursday afternoon.

3:45 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

Ukraine's top military commander shares upbeat assessment about course of conflict with Russia

From Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

Ukraine's most senior military figure has met with his NATO counterparts and given an upbeat assessment of the conflict.

"Today, we are not just defending ourselves. We have conducted a series of successful counter-attacks," General Valeriy Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian General Staff, said he had told the NATO Military Committee.

Ukrainian forces had unblocked sieges of Kharkiv and Mykolaiv, and were fighting in the Kherson direction, he said.

Zaluzhny said he had stressed that Ukrainians are paying an extremely high price for freedom and European choice, and Europe is experiencing the greatest security crisis since the Second World War. 

Ever since 2014, "we were aware that the full-scale aggression would eventually begin, and we were getting ready for it," he added.

Ukraine's military had "acknowledged that the first month would be the turning point. We managed to take away the enemy's strategic initiative, cause critical losses, and force them to abandon the main objective — the capture of the city of Kyiv," he continued.

However, despite Ukrainian successes, he said, "the Russians are maintaining missile fire of high intensity, on average 10-14 ballistic and cruise missiles per day. This is a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to NATO member states," and it was crucial to strengthen missile defenses.

3:51 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

US Defense chief thanks Spain for supporting Ukraine following a bilateral meeting

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of State, speaks during a meeting with Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of State, speaks during a meeting with Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles at the Pentagon on Thursday. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin thanked Spain for supporting Ukraine as Russia’s invasion of the country continues, noting their “important military contributions to deterrence along NATO’s eastern flank” and “direct security assistance and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine,” during opening remarks ahead of a bilateral meeting with Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Austin also said he is looking forward to the NATO summit Spain is hosting in Madrid next month. The summit will be a “turning point for the alliance” as NATO leaders “endorse a new strategic concept, one that must look both east and south,” Austin said.

Robles spoke first in English and then in Spanish. She thanked Austin for hosting her at the Pentagon, calling it “the best expression of our close relationship between United States and Spain.” 

In Spanish, Robles said that Putin’s attack on Ukraine is not only an attack on Ukraine itself, but an attack on the entire democratic community and democratic values. 

“We are living in a very difficult moment. The situation in Ukraine shows to the world we are, with a lot of threats, we have to stand together, the unity is our strength,” Robles said in English.
2:23 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

Biden administration announces $100 million security package for Ukraine

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Kaitlan Collins 

The Biden administration announced another $100 million security package for Ukraine Thursday as the President is set to sign a bill authorizing billions more in assistance. 

The additional security assistance that will “provide additional artillery, radars, and other equipment to Ukraine, which they are already using so effectively on the battlefield," Biden said in a statement. “These weapons and equipment will go directly to the front lines of freedom in Ukraine, and reiterate our strong support for the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country against Russia’s ongoing aggression."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also released a statement.

“I am authorizing our tenth drawdown of additional arms and equipment for Ukraine’s defense from US Department of Defense inventories, valued at up to $100 million,” he said in a statement.

The latest package brings the total US military assistance to Ukraine to approximately $3.9 billion in arms and equipment since the beginning of the Russian invasion. 

“The United States, as well as more than 40 Allies and partner countries, are working around the clock to expedite shipments of arms and equipment essential to Ukraine’s defense,” Blinken said. 

It comes as the White House warned any further delay in authorizing additional funding to Ukraine could lead to interruptions in the shipments of weapons and equipment. 

The Biden administration has made it a top priority to get shipments into Ukraine as quickly as possible, cutting down the approval and delivery process from weeks to days. But officials had warned that money was running out from the last supplemental funding package and that Congress had to act quickly to keep the critical weapons shipments flowing.

The announcement of the latest security package comes as Biden is set to sign a new $40 billion aid bill into law. It includes $11 billion in presidential drawdown authority in which the US pulls directly from American inventories to send weapons to Ukraine, as well as another $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, where the Pentagon contracts with weapons manufacturers for Ukraine.

2:05 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister discusses ways to "unblock" its food exports with UK counterpart 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks to the press in Brussels, on May 16.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks to the press in Brussels, on May 16. (Olivier Matthys/AP)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he discussed ways to "unblock" Ukrainian food exports with his UK counterpart, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

In a tweet Thursday, Kuleba said he spoke with Truss about "ways to hold Russia accountable for its aggression and unblock Ukraine’s food exports."

"Russia bears full responsibility not only for killing, torturing, and raping Ukrainians, but also for starving people across the world, including in Africa," Kuleba continued. 

The blockade on Ukrainian exports was also discussed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a call Thursday. 

In a tweet, Zelensky said the two leaders had discussed “ways to export agricultural products from Ukraine and import fuel to Ukraine.”

Earlier on Thursday, World Food Programme (WFP) chief David Beasley said the failure to open ports in Ukraine would "be a declaration of war on global food security, resulting in famine destabilization of nations, as well as mass migration by necessity." 

Beasley called it "absolutely essential" that ports are allowed open, stressing "this is not just about Ukraine" but also "about the poorest of the poor around the world who are on the brink of starvation as we speak." 

1:57 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

Ukraine's traditional shirt takes center stage on Vyshyvanka Day, as messages of solidarity pour in

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Volunteers wearing vyshyvankas invite people to embroider Ukrainian attire during celebration of the Vyshyvanka Day in Odesa, Ukraine, on May 19.
Volunteers wearing vyshyvankas invite people to embroider Ukrainian attire during celebration of the Vyshyvanka Day in Odesa, Ukraine, on May 19. (Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine's traditional white embroidered shirt, called a vyshyvanka, is a symbol of solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainian culture — even more so since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. 

On Vyshyvanka Day this year, the Ukrainian traditional shirt has taken center stage online once again, as messages and pictures of solidarity are pouring in, from humans and animals alike. 

"Today I celebrate the vibrant and rich Ukrainian culture by wearing a Vyshyvanka," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on her official Twitter account on Thursday, along a picture showing her wearing a vyshyvanka. "Every 3rd Thursday of May, people wear this traditional cloth as an expression of unity and national identity. In these difficult times, we stand with our Ukrainian friends."

"Today, on #VyshyvankaDay, I join Ukrainians around the world in their tradition to wear a #vyshyvanka. Ukrainians' fight for freedom is our fight too," said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola on her official Twitter feed as well. 

UNICEF Ukraine, along with a picture showing two Ukrainian newborn twins, also marked the day, writing "Happy #VyshyvankaDay from these two cuties born in #Kharkiv 💙#ForEveryChild, a peaceful and healthy life."

Professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko and his brother, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, posed on social media wearing their vyshyvankas.

"Happy Vyshyvanka Day, friends!" said Wladimir. "Today an embroidered shirt is one of the symbols of our people heroic fight for freedom. It’s also an element of recognition of the Ukrainians in the world. I’m always proud to be Ukrainian! And especially today. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to its heroes!"

The Ukrainian Emergency Services featured a picture of one of its most dedicated staffers, the dog Patron, wearing a vyshyvanka too. 

"Maintaining traditions, today our Patron changed his 'armor' to an embroidered shirt! Looks cool, what do you think?" the service said on its official Twitter account Thursday.

2:40 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

US Senate overwhelmingly approves $40 billion in aid to Ukraine 

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett

Members speak on the Senate floor on May 19, in Washington, DC. 
Members speak on the Senate floor on May 19, in Washington, DC.  (Senate TV)

The United States Senate just approved a roughly $40 billion package to send emergency aid to Ukraine by a wide bipartisan majority.

The final vote was 86-11. The bill will now go to President Biden for his signature. 

All Democrats supported the legislation. Eleven Republican senators voted against it: Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Braun of Indiana, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the US Senate's passage of further economic assistance, tweeting that it is "significant."

Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate “will keep its promise to stand with the people of Ukraine.” He added that the $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid is “large” and “it will meet the large needs of the Ukrainian people as they fight for their survival.”

Schumer noted that given how important it is to back Ukraine in its fight against Russia, “I wish I could say this vote will be totally unanimous.” Every Democrat in the House supported the emergency aid package, and all Democrats in the Senate are expected to as well.

“While most senators in both parties want this package done, it beyond troubling to see a growing circle of Senate Republicans proudly oppose Ukrainian funding. Two days ago, 11 Republicans voted against merely debating this legislation," he said.

He added: “Around the world, our enemies are watching what we do right now. What do you think they're going to conclude if they start seeing more and more US senators oppose aid to democracies under attack by authoritarianism? Our adversaries might conclude that we're divided America is divided; they might conclude that we lack purpose.”

Read more:

1:10 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022

Top US general speaks with Russian counterpart for first time since Russian invasion of Ukraine started

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Gen. Mark Milley attends a hearing on May 11, in Washington, DC. 
Gen. Mark Milley attends a hearing on May 11, in Washington, DC.  (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke with his Russian counterpart, General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, by phone on Thursday, a readout of the conversation from Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said.

This is the first conversation between the two leaders since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.

“The military leaders discussed several security-related issues of concern and agreed to keep the lines of communication open,” the readout of the conversation said.

Milley’s conversation with Gerasimov comes six days after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

The conversation between Austin and Shoigu lasted approximately an hour. Austin used the call to urge Shoigu to implement an “immediate ceasefire” in Ukraine, according to a brief readout of the call. The last time the two had spoken was Feb. 18, before Russia began their invasion of Ukraine.