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
30 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:33 p.m. ET, May 20, 2022

Zelensky calls Russian actions "absolute evil, absolute stupidity," after strike decimates cultural center

From CNN’s Victoria Butenko in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday called Russian air strikes the epitome of “absolute evil, absolute stupidity," after the destruction of a cultural center that left at least seven people injured.

Zelensky posted video on Telegram of the airstrike which wrecked the “newly renovated House of Culture," causing a massive cloud of dust and debris, and also injured at least seven people including a child, in the city of Lazova in the Kharkiv region.

“The occupiers identified culture, education and humanity as their enemies. They do not spare missiles or bombs for them. What is in the minds of people who choose such targets? Absolute evil, absolute stupidity," he said underneath the video of the strike.

4:36 p.m. ET, May 20, 2022

Russia claims it has "completely liberated" the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol

From CNN’s Darya Tarasova and Pierre Meilhan

An aerial view of damaged residential buildings and the Azovstal steel plant in the background in the port city of Mariupol, on Wednesday, May 18.
An aerial view of damaged residential buildings and the Azovstal steel plant in the background in the port city of Mariupol, on Wednesday, May 18. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia claimed Friday that its troops have “completely liberated” the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. 

In a statement, Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said that the “last group of 531 militants surrendered,” referring to the Ukrainian fighters who for several weeks had been resisting the Russian assault on the plant.

Earlier, the Ukrainian commander of the Azov Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Denis Prokopenko, gave the order to stop defending the city of Mariupol and issued a short video message from inside the 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."

Konashenkov said the Azov Regiment commander “was taken out of the territory of the plant in a special armored car.”

New video just posted online appears to show the remaining Azov fighters walking out of the steel plant. 

CNN cannot independently verify that all Ukrainian troops have vacated the steel plant.

2:03 p.m. ET, May 20, 2022

Ukraine aid bill is "being carried by someone who was already traveling" to South Korea

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

The $40 billion Ukraine aid bill is being flown to South Korea for US President Joe Biden's signature, a National Security Council spokesperson confirmed to CNN. 

The bill is "being carried by someone who was already traveling to the region as part of their official duties," the spokesperson said.

"The bill is being flown to South Korea for the President to sign, and it’s being carried by someone who was already traveling to the region as part of their official duties," the spokesperson said.  

The legislation provides money for military and humanitarian aid, including funding to assist Ukrainian military and national security forces, help replenish US equipment sent to Ukraine, and provide public health and medical support for Ukrainian refugees.

1:56 p.m. ET, May 20, 2022

German ambassador: Ukraine war "pulverized" Germany's assumptions on engaging Russia

German Ambassador to the US Emily Haber
German Ambassador to the US Emily Haber (CNN)

German Ambassador to the US Emily Haber said that a strategy of interdependence when engaging Russia has now been "pulverized" by the invasion of Ukraine and resulting fallout.

When asked by CNN's Jim Sciutto whether "Germany fundamentally misread Vladimir Putin" in past years, here's how Haber responded:

"It is true that for many decades our strategy rested on the fundamental assumption ... that interdependence would produce stability, predictability, and to some extent of a time, even alignment. It was, if you will, our experience with regard to the GDR [the former East Germany] and with reunification and even with regard with the implosion of the Soviet Empire. We now do see that interdependence can actually also produce vulnerability. So this assumption, in effect, has been pulverized."

Haber also reiterated that the West needs to be united in its messaging against Russian President Vladimir Putin, because "we know, in effect, probably very little about the inner dynamics of his circle."

Haber also discussed Germany reducing dependence on Russian energy, saying that the country is working at "breakneck speed" and the result will be "irreversible."

"We have to reduce our dependence on Russian fossil fuels as quickly as we possibly can. ... We are now discussing an oil embargo. And Germany is actually pressing for it. There are other options on the table as well, but all of them designed to make sure we are getting out of that dependence. Gas is a more complicated story, because, other than the oil market, it's not a global market. But we are diversifying — Germany is — at breakneck speed. We are ordering big contracts of LNG, we are building LNG facility storage ... And our intention is to get out of Russian gas, let alone oil and coal, as quickly as we possibly can. We need to end that dependence, and it will be irreversible," she said.

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

1:26 p.m. ET, May 20, 2022

Russian missile destroys cultural building in Ukrainian city of Lozova, injuring 7, president's office says

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Tim Lister and Celine Alkhaldi

(Ukrainian community channel/Telegram
(Ukrainian community channel/Telegram

A Russian missile destroyed the House of Culture in the Ukrainian city of Lozova on Friday, injuring seven people, including an 11-year-old child, according to Ukraine's Office of the President.

CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the video, which was shared on Telegram by the president's office. 

Lozova is located roughly 45 miles (about 73 kilometers), southwest of Izium, a Russian-occupied city in the Kharkiv region.

The missile was seen in the video milliseconds before it destroyed the building. When the missile hit the building, there was a large flash and a smoke plume as it exploded.

The president's office claimed that the building had been newly renovated. CNN could not independently confirm the injuries that the office said resulted from the missile strike.

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.