May 22, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Leinz Vales and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:12 a.m. ET, May 23, 2023
29 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:28 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

The Freedom for Russia Legion releases video appearing to show opposition flag flying over Moscow university

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova 

The Freedom for Russia Legion – a group that has claimed responsibility for an apparent incursion inside Russian territory in Belgorod – posted a video on Monday evening that appears to show the so-called flag of free Russia flying over Moscow State University. 

In the video of the incident, which the Legion did not directly claim responsibility for, balloons appear to lift the blue-and-white-striped flag above the university's main building.

"Thanks to those who support and wait for us!" said The Freedom for Russia Legion's caption Telegram. "'L' [Legion] For Russia! For freedom!" 

Other videos posted by The Freedom for Russia Legion appear to show another Russian opposition flag flying over various areas of Moscow, carried by blue and white balloons.  

CNN could not independently verify the reports. 

The blue and white flag has been used by several anti-Putin Russian opposition groups and has become more widely used since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

3:08 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

Bakhmut remains the "epicenter of fighting," Ukraine's armed forces says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Lauren Kent

Ukrainian soldiers ride on a BMP infantry fighting vehicle toward Bakhmut, on May 20, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian soldiers ride on a BMP infantry fighting vehicle toward Bakhmut, on May 20, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Sergey Shestak/AFP/Getty Images

The eastern Ukrainian cities of Bakhmut and Marinka continue to be the "epicenter of fighting," according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Monday. 

Twenty five "combat engagements" took place around Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka, the update said.

"Fighting for the city of Bakhmut continues. The occupiers carried out air strikes near Bakhmut and Ivanivske," the General Staff said. "Ukrainian defense forces repelled numerous enemy attacks near the town of Marinka. In addition, Pobieda village in Donetsk region was shelled by the enemy."

Russian attacks hit residential apartment buildings, private houses, a kindergarten and other civilian infrastructure facilities, injuring some civilians, according to Ukraine's Armed Forces.

"They continue to destroy civilian infrastructure near the contact line" in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions, according to the update. The daily report also highlighted the "massive missile and air attack at Ukraine’s civil and critical infrastructure facilities," which struck the city of Dnipro, the city of Zaporizhzhia, and settlements in the Kharkiv region. 

Earlier on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the Ukrainian forces who are defending the country's skies.

"From last night to this morning, they have shot down 25 Shaheds (drones). 25 out of 25. An excellent result," Zelensky said in his daily address. "Each such downing means saved lives, saved infrastructure."

2:29 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

Russia expected to hold hearing this week on extending US journalist's pre-trial detention, source says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court on April 18.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the Moscow City Court on April 18. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

The Russians are expected to hold a hearing this week about extending Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s pre-trial detention, a source familiar told CNN. 

Gershkovich, who has been designated as wrongfully detained by the US State Department, appeared in court in April to ask that his pre-trial detention be under house arrest rather than in jail. That appeal was denied, and he was sent to Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison until May 29.

The expected hearing this week will be about extending his pre-trial detention beyond May 29.

It is unclear if Gershkovich will appear in person, as he did in April. 

 

4:39 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

Russia is accusing Ukraine of a "sabotage" attack across the border. Here's what to know

From CNN staff

Several people were hurt in an attack on the Belgorod region in Russia, near the border. Ukrainian officials say it was carried out by a group of Ukraine-aligned Russian nationals who crossed into the country.

Meanwhile in the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, the leader of the Russian mercenary company Wagner claimed his men had captured the town — a claim Ukraine has denied.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Attacks on Belgorod: At least eight people were hurt in attacks on Russia's Belgorod region, the governor there said. Vyacheslav Gladkov said “a sabotage and reconnaissance group” of the Ukrainian army had crossed into Russian territory and attacked the town of Grayvoron. Groups called the "Freedom of Russia Legion" and "Russian Volunteer Corps" claimed the attack. Russian forces were working to push out the group of saboteurs in what it's calling a "counter-terrorist operation," the governor said.
  • What Ukraine is saying: The attack in the town of Grayvoron was carried out by a group that was “part of the defense and security forces" in Ukraine but acting as “independent entities” in Russia, according to Andriy Yusov, a representative of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency. He confirmed the group was made up of Russian nationals.
  • Border strikes increasing: Strikes in the Belgorod region appear to have intensified in recent weeks, according to claims by Russian officials. Earlier this month, Gladkov claimed two drones had detonated and fell over a residential area in the region. He added that no casualties were reported, but two residential buildings and a car were damaged. Another drone was shot down by Russian air defense systems over the region, he said. 
  • Battle for Bakhmut: Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his troops have captured “all the territories they promised to capture, to the last square centimeter" in the eastern city of Bakhmut. He confirmed reports from Russian-backed officials that their forces had started to demine the city. But Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Maliar said Ukrainian forces were still in control of some buildings in the southwest of Bakhmut and are advancing on the city’s flanks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also denied that Bakhmut is fully occupied by Russia.
  • Missing Ukrainians: Search teams found 50 bodies of missing people in the past month alone in formerly Russian-occupied areas, including the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, a Ukraine official said. Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs said about 23,000 people have been officially deemed missing since the start of Russia's invasion. 
  • Push for fighter jets: Ukraine’s quest for US-made F-16 fighter jets received a huge boost when US President Joe Biden gave his backing for Kyiv’s pilots to be trained to fly them. Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov claimed that the US “continues to fan the flames of conflict” and that providing Ukraine with jets allows the US to oppose Russia “with other’s hands, by proxy.”
1:36 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

Governor: Situation in Russia's Belgorod region "remains extremely tense" as evacuations continue

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

This video geolocated by CNN appears to show smoke rising over Russia's Belgorod region.
This video geolocated by CNN appears to show smoke rising over Russia's Belgorod region. Freedom for Russia Legion Press Service

The situation in Russia's Belgorod region "remains extremely tense" Monday following an attack from what Russia has called a group of saboteurs that crossed into its territory from Ukraine, the governor of the region said.

"A sabotage and reconnaissance group, the Ministry of Defense and all law enforcement agencies have entered the territory to carry out combat missions to protect our country," regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a live-streamed address from the Graivoron district.

Gladkov said that the Belgorod government is "completing a house tour of the border villages" and in the town of Graivoron to ensure the safety of the local population. 

He added that "most of the population left the territory" with personal transportation and the local government is providing transportation for those who do not have the opportunity to leave on their own. 

The head of the district Gennady Ivanovich Bondarev is working with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the police to evacuate people, according to Gladkov.

The governor previously said eight people were injured in the attack.

12:57 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

Ukrainian authorities say 50 bodies of missing people have been found in the past month alone

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Ukrainian search teams found 50 bodies of missing people in the past month alone in areas formerly occupied by Russian forces, a Ukraine official said.

Ukraine's Commissioner for Persons Missing in Special Circumstances Oleh Kotenko said the bodies were discovered in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions. The commission is still searching de-occupied territory for possible graves, according to Kotenko.

Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs said about 23,000 people have been officially deemed missing since the start of Russia's invasion. 

"Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, tens of thousands of people have been reported missing. The vast majority of them have been found. However, about 23,000 people have been officially confirmed as missing under special circumstances as a result of military operations," the Ministry of Internal Affairs said earlier this month as it launched a register of missing people. 
1:27 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

At least 8 people injured in attack on Russia's Belgorod region, governor says

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

At least eight people were injured in an attack in Russia's Belgorod region, the governor there said Monday.

Regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a video live stream there were no deaths among civilians in Belgorod.

What happened: Earlier on Monday, Gladkov said several people were injured with shrapnel wounds in an attack in the town of Graivoron. He also said shells hit an administrative building in Belgorod and damaged three residential buildings, which caught fire. A shell also hit a kindergarten in the neighboring village of Zamostye, where another woman was injured, he added.  

A Ukrainian official acknowledged that the units that had carried out an operation in the area were part of the defense and security forces of Ukraine, but insisted they were acting independently. “We can confirm that this operation was carried out by Russian citizens,” Andriy Yusov, a representative of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency, told CNN.

1:27 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

Governor of Russia's Belgorod region claims "counter-terrorist operation" launched in the area 

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Uliana Pavlova 

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said Monday that a "counter-terrorist operation" has been launched in the area following Moscow's announcement that it is fighting a group of saboteurs that crossed into its territory from Ukraine.

"In order to ensure the safety of citizens in the Belgorod Region, the legal regime of the counter-terrorist operation has been introduced today, which establishes special measures and temporary restrictions," regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.

More on stringent security measures: Those measures include enhanced document verification for individuals as well as "the suspension of the activities of hazardous industries and organizations that use explosive, radioactive, chemically and biologically hazardous substances," according to an update published on the Belgorod government website.

Other special measures include "control of telephone conversations and other information transmitted through the channels of telecommunication systems" and the use of private vehicles "to deliver persons in need of urgent medical care to medical institutions, as well as to pursue persons suspected of committing a terrorist attack," according to the Belgorod government. 

The Belgorod region's government will also restrict the movement of vehicles and pedestrians on the streets and roads. 

1:27 p.m. ET, May 22, 2023

At least three people injured in attack, Belgorod governor says 

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Uliana Pavlova

This video geolocated by CNN appears to show smoke rising from a border crossing station in Kozinka, Belgorod Oblast, near the border with Ukraine. 
This video geolocated by CNN appears to show smoke rising from a border crossing station in Kozinka, Belgorod Oblast, near the border with Ukraine.  bpzua/Telegram

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said on Monday that at least three people have been injured with shrapnel wounds amid an attack by a Ukrainian "sabotage" group that entered Russian territory in the town of Graivoron bordering Ukraine. 

"They are in the hospital in a state of moderate severity. All necessary medical assistance is provided," regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram. 

Gladkov said that shells hit an administrative building in Belgorod and damaged three residential buildings, which caught fire. A shell also hit a kindergarten in the neighboring village of Zamostye, where another woman was injured with a hand wound, he added.  

An unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down by Russia's air defense system, according to Gladkov, who said there were no victims in the attack and Russian operational services were looking into any potential damage on the ground.

Earlier on Monday, Belgorod's governor said that Russian armed forces, along with the border service, the National Guard and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) were "taking measures to eliminate the enemy."

Some context: A Ukrainian official acknowledged that the units that had carried out an operation in the area were part of the defense and security forces of Ukraine, but insisted they were acting independently. “We can confirm that this operation was carried out by Russian citizens,” Andriy Yusov, a representative of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency, told CNN.

CNN's Victoria Butenko contributed to this post.