May 20, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Matias Grez, Jeevan Ravindran, Ed Upright and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 21, 2022
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1:24 p.m. ET, May 20, 2022

The US is expected to keep 100,000 troops in Europe for foreseeable future, officials say

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman and Barbara Starr

The US is expected to keep 100,000 troops stationed in Europe for the foreseeable future unless Russia escalates and threatens Sweden and Finland or NATO members, according to multiple US officials.

The numbers could temporarily increase if NATO carries out more military exercises in the region, and the US could add additional bases in Europe if the security environment changes, the officials added.

The plans are being considered following Thursday's meeting of NATO's military chiefs in Brussels, the officials said. The military chiefs are making the recommendations to a NATO defense ministers meeting planned for June, and NATO leaders including US President Joe Biden will meet in Madrid at the end of that month.

The US increased its overall force posture in Europe from about 60,000 troops before Russia's invasion of Ukraine to about 100,000 now, adding troops and military assets to countries along Europe's eastern flank to support NATO and to further deter Russia. The US contributed thousands of troops to NATO's Response Force, which was activated for the first time in NATO's history earlier this spring.

Read the full story here.

2:46 p.m. ET, May 20, 2022

Vatican City foreign minister reaffirms Vatican's offer to assist in negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow

From CNN's Livia Borghese and Arnaud Siad

Archbishop Paul, second left, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba lay flowers at the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Kyiv on Friday.
Archbishop Paul, second left, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba lay flowers at the Memorial Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Kyiv on Friday. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Archbishop Paul, the foreign minister of Vatican City, reaffirmed the Vatican's "willingness to aid a genuine negotiation process" between Ukraine and Russia in a speech in Kyiv on Friday. 

Speaking alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Archbishop Paul said negotiations were "a just route to a fair and permanent resolution" to the war in Ukraine.

Lamenting the "limitations" of previous attempts at finding a resolution through negotiations, the archbishop said: "Faith in God and in humanity (…) compels us to persevere in the pursuit of peace through prayer, words and deeds and not to succumb easily to the enormous challenges."

"I assure you that both the Holy Father and his closest collaborators, including myself, suffer greatly from the many deaths, violence of all sorts, the devastation of cities and infrastructure, the separation of so many families, and the millions of displaced people and refugees," he added.

Pope Francis has repeatedly made appeals for peace. The Vatican previously said it is willing to do “everything possible” to assist in reaching a ceasefire and brokering an end to the war in Ukraine. 

Archbishop Paul said the visit to Kyiv, at the invitation of Kuleba, had been planned "for quite some time," but "obstacles" including health concerns with the Covid-19 pandemic had prevented it until now.

11:51 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022

"My family was my whole life," Ukrainian man says after wife and 3-month-old baby died in Odesa strike

Yuriy Glodan
Yuriy Glodan (Sara Sidner/CNN)

A Ukrainian man who lost his wife, 3-month-old daughter and mother-in-law in a missile strike on Easter weekend in Odesa said that "it is hard to live."

Yuriy Glodan was at the grocery store and heard an explosion on the way home, he told CNN's Sara Sidner.

"I felt immediately something bad had happened. I tried to call my wife. She did not answer," he said in translated remarks.

When he arrived to his apartment building, which had been struck, he and a bystander immediately tried to start clearing rubble. They, alongside EMS staff, found the bodies of Glodan's wife and her mother.

Officials told him to leave the scene because there was fear of a building collapse, but he wouldn't leave until he found the body of his baby daughter.

"It is hard to live with this. My family was my whole life. I lived for their sake. When my baby came along, I understood the meaning of life," he said. 

Glodan's neighbor, 19-year-old Oleksiy Paradovsky, is in the hospital after suffering burns to 20% of his body.

"I realized that a rocket had hit my place and I started to burn," he told Sidner. "I thought another minute, and I would definitely turn into ash."

Shrapnel also had to be removed from his body. He was preparing to work on a commercial supply ship prior to the war, but now he's just lucky to be alive, he said.

Watch the report and read more about the two men here:

11:44 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022

Germany will deliver first 15 anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine in July, defense ministry spokesperson says 

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin 

Germany will deliver the first 15 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine in July, a German defense ministry spokesperson confirmed Friday, adding that the tanks should be fully operational in Ukraine by mid-July.  

At the end of April, Germany agreed to deliver anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine. And in early May, Berlin said it will supply Kyiv with seven self-propelled howitzers.  

Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed Germany's announcement, saying that Berlin has now moved into ''the right direction” following tensions between Kyiv and Berlin.  

Over the past months, the German government has come under pressure from Ukraine and politicians at home for not doing more in providing heavy military equipment to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian attacks.  

11:57 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022

Germany signs energy partnership with Qatar to distance itself from Russian gas

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Qatari Minister of State for Energy Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi shakes hands with German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck after they signed a new energy partnership between their countries on Friday.
Qatari Minister of State for Energy Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi shakes hands with German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck after they signed a new energy partnership between their countries on Friday. (Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Germany and Qatar on Friday agreed on an energy partnership, which may see Doha start supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Berlin in 2024.

Qatar will become key to Germany's future energy strategy to diversify away from Russian gas, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, addressing a joint press conference with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Berlin.

"The energy security issue plays an important role for us. Germany will develop its infrastructure to be in a position to import liquefied gas by ship," Scholz said. 

"It's a big step, and Qatar plays an important role in our strategy,'' the German leader added.

The Qatari emir told journalists at the news conference that he hopes his country will commence to supply liquefied natural gas to Germany in 2024.

The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz shake hands after a joint press conference in Berlin on Friday.
The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz shake hands after a joint press conference in Berlin on Friday. (Michael Sohn/AP)

Some background: Germany has been under pressure from Ukraine and other nations in Europe to make progress in weaning itself off Russian energy supplies since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Germany started construction works for its first floating LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven, a city and port located in Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany.

10:33 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022

France announces its first medical evacuation flight for wounded Ukrainians and child cancer patients 

From CNN's Dalal Mawad in Paris 

France announced on Friday that it launched its first medical evacuation flight from Poland for wounded Ukrainians and child cancer patients. 

In a statement, the French foreign ministry said the flight today evacuated seven Ukrainians wounded in the war, plus three Ukrainian children with cancer and their caregivers. 

The patients will be treated at the expense of France in various hospitals across the country, according to the statement.  

“France remains committed to supporting Ukraine and the populations affected by the consequences of the Russian aggression,” the ministry said.  

9:38 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022

G7 pledges nearly $20 billion to support Ukraine's finances during Russian invasion

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood in London

Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine, speaks virtually at the meeting of G7 Finance Ministers in Koenigswinter, Germany, on May 19.
Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine, speaks virtually at the meeting of G7 Finance Ministers in Koenigswinter, Germany, on May 19. (Florian Gaertner/Photothek/Getty Images)

The finance ministers of Group of Seven (G7) nations have pledged $19.8 billion to support Ukraine’s finances during Russia’s invasion, a statement from the group said on Friday.

In the statement, the G7, an organization of leaders from some of the world's largest economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US, said the funds will be used to help Ukraine "close its financing gap and continue ensuring the delivery of basic services to the Ukrainian people.”

“While also addressing Ukraine’s humanitarian and other material needs, we recognize, in particular, Ukraine’s urgent short term financing needs,” the statement said, adding that the proposed fund of $19.8 billion is “in addition to recent announcements on further military and humanitarian support.”

“We will continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this war and beyond and are prepared to do more as needed,” the group said.

8:36 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russia's war on Ukraine has now entered its 13th week. In the otherwise Russian-occupied city of Mariupol the final holdout of the Azovstal steel plant has become a strong symbol of Ukrainian resistance. Today, an order has been given to stop defending the city, according to the commander of the Azov Regiment inside Azovstal.

Meanwhile, there are "many dead" after a Russian missile strike near Chernihiv, in northern Ukraine, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, who accused Russia of trying to "kill as many Ukrainians as possible."

Here are today's latest developments:

Order given to stop defending Mariupol: The commander of the Azov Regiment, Lt. Col. Denis Prokopenko, issued a video message from inside Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant saying that the top military leadership had "issued an order to preserve the garrison soldiers' life and health and stop defending the city." Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said almost 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered from the plant. CNN cannot independently verify these figures.

Donbas "completely destroyed": Zelensky said there are “constant strikes on the Odesa region, on the cities of central Ukraine, and the Donbas is completely destroyed." In the Chernihiv region north of Kyiv on Thursday, Russian missiles hit the village of Desna leaving many dead, Zelensky said. Desna is 40 miles from the border with Belarus.

12 dead in Luhansk: Ukrainian military officials say 12 people were killed in the eastern Luhansk region in the city of Severodonetsk, and 60 properties destroyed by Russian bombardments on Thursday. But they note that Russian forces do not appear to have made any headway on the main front lines in Luhansk and Donetsk in the past day. 

Russian soldier's trial adjourned: The trial of 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin was adjourned until Monday after a third day of hearings in his trial for war crimes. Shishimarin pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting an unarmed 62-year-old civilian in Ukraine’s Sumy region on the fourth day of the war, and said "I'm sorry and sincerely repent."

Mammoth US aid bill: US President Joe Biden will sign a $40 billion emergency aid package to Ukraine into law while he is in South Korea, an official says. The package was approved by the US Senate on Thursday. The Biden administration also announced another $100 million security package for Ukraine. 

Food export crisis: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he discussed ways to "unblock" Ukrainian food exports with his UK counterpart, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. The blockade on Ukrainian exports was also discussed by Zelensky and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a call Thursday. A failure to open closed ports in Ukraine to ship grain out will bring millions of people to the brink of starvation, according to the World Food Programme.

Biden offers "strong support" for NATO bids: The leaders of Sweden and Finland met with Biden at the White House after they submitted their NATO membership applications on Wednesday. The Biden administration will submit reports to the US Congress on the applications. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again maintained that his country “will say no" to the entry.

7:53 a.m. ET, May 20, 2022

US intel is skeptical that Putin will be swayed by Russian public opinion over Ukraine war

By CNN's Katie Bo Lillis, Zachary Cohen and Jeremy Herb

US intelligence officials are skeptical that any change in Russian public opinion against the Kremlin's war in Ukraine -- even a dramatic one -- would have an effect in persuading Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict, according to multiple sources familiar with the latest intelligence.

Officials also doubt that the war, which many strategists believe has been an unmitigated disaster for Russia's military, is likely to lead to the removal of Putin from power, at least in the short term.

That assessment reflects the extent to which officials believe Putin has cemented his control over Russia during his more than two decades in power.

Putin is intimately involved in the day-to-day management of the conflict, according to three sources familiar with US and western intelligence, who told CNN that Putin directly participates in decision-making that in most Western armies would be reserved for lower-ranking officers.

"He clearly is his own decision maker. He doesn't seem to rely even on experts within the government or the cabinet very much," said a senior NATO official.

So it's a bit hard to imagine that popular opinion sways him all that much."

Full coverage here: