May 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Travis Caldwell, Seán Federico-O'Murchú, Jack Guy, Sana Noor Haq, Hafsa Khalil and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, May 25, 2022
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3:09 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Russia withdraws its bid to host Expo 2030

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh, Sophie Jeong and Josh Pennington

Russia has withdrawn its bid to host Expo 2030 because its bid would not be evaluated "fairly and impartially" under the current "anti-Russian campaign" waged by Western countries, the country’s foreign ministry said. 

“It is clear that Moscow's bid to host Expo 2030, faced with competition from the other four candidates, will not be evaluated fairly and impartially,” the ministry said in a statement Monday.

World Expos have become another victim of a "large-scale anti-Russian campaign" waged by Western countries aimed at expelling Russia from all areas of cooperation, the statement said.

The ministry notified the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) of its decision on Monday, it said.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, pictured here at the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow on May 9, hopes Russia will be considered by the Bureau International des Expositions as a future host.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, pictured here at the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow on May 9, hopes Russia will be considered by the Bureau International des Expositions as a future host. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

The BIE confirmed it received notification of Russia's decision and said in a statement that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin expressed hope that the country will be a candidate "in the foreseeable future."

Ukraine also bid to host: The host country of World Expo 2030 will be chosen by the 170 member states of the BIE in late 2023.

Odesa, the southern port city in Ukraine, is one of the four remaining cities that had bid for the hosting rights. The others are Rome, Busan in South Korea and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

2:47 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Zelensky: Kyiv ready for prisoner exchange with Russia

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen on a giant screen during his address by video conference as part of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on May 23.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen on a giant screen during his address by video conference as part of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on May 23. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Kyiv is ready for a prisoner exchange with Russia "even tomorrow," as he called on allies to continue to put pressure on Moscow.  

"The exchange of people — this is a humanitarian matter today and a very political decision that depends on the support of many states," Zelensky said Monday via videoconference to an audience in Davos.

"It is really important, that the whole world does not beg Russia, no matter the circumstance, or to make concessions to Russia," he said.
"[They must] keep the political pressure on any way they can, through powerful business connections, through the closure of businesses, oil embargo, and through threats, real threats of sanctions, thwarting business, we can actively intensify the exchange of our people for Russian servicemen."

"We do not need the Russian servicemen, we only need ours. We are ready for an exchange even tomorrow," Zelensky said. 

Ukrainians have also filled "tens of thousands" of black body bags with the remains of Russian soldiers left behind, he added.

2:26 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Biden: US and India will "continue consulting closely" on Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Jessie Yeung and Steve George

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and US President Joe Biden hold a meeting during the Quad Leaders Summit at Kantei in Tokyo, Japan, on May 24.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and US President Joe Biden hold a meeting during the Quad Leaders Summit at Kantei in Tokyo, Japan, on May 24. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden says he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who has been reluctant to condemn Russia's war in Ukraine — would discuss the "brutal and unjustified" conflict on Tuesday.

Biden and Modi are meeting on the sidelines of the Quad Summit, which is taking place in Tokyo and includes their counterparts from Japan and Australia.

Speaking to reporters, Biden raised the effect the war has had "on the entire global world order."

"The US and India are going to continue consulting closely on how to mitigate these negative effects," Biden said.
"There is so much that our countries can and will do together, and I'm committed to making the US-India partnership among the closest we have on Earth."

India is the only Quad member yet to condemn Russia's actions or impose sanctions on Moscow.

Modi delivered his remarks next, calling Quad meetings "very positive and productive." He praised the US-India relationship as "a partnership of trust" and force for global good, highlighting their "common interests and shared values" as well as economic cooperation.

He did not mention the war in Ukraine.

A quip from Biden: After the two leaders spoke, they continued sitting for a moment to allow press photos — a brief silence broken almost immediately by reporters shouting questions about Russia.

"Will you push Prime Minister Modi to take a tougher stance on Russia?" one journalist said. Another asked, "Did you ask Prime Minister Modi to wean himself off of Russian oil?"

Neither leader answered — but Biden gave Modi a wry look, raised his eyebrows, and said: "Welcome to the American press."

Follow CNN's live coverage of the Quad Summit here.

12:37 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Analysis: Biden finds unity abroad. He's losing it at home

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

US President Joe Biden's greatest success has been to marshal most of the world against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Standing up to authoritarian aggressors for democracies is turning into the main theme of Biden's presidency. He wants to show the world that the US form of government is better than the authoritarian version, where presidents change the rules to give themselves power for decades or for life and where they plot to seize land.

But at home, he faces an arduous task.

He's bent on ensuring that the Ukrainian and Taiwanese people can choose their own leaders in free elections, but a shocking number of Republicans continue to reject his own election victory.

The Senate is so paralyzed by the filibuster, which gives a minority the ability to squash legislation, that no elected leaders seem to be seriously talking about federal legislation to deal with some of the largest American problems.

Read the full analysis here:

12:41 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

US President Joe Biden said during opening remarks at the Quad Summit with leaders of Australia, India and Japan that “we’re navigating a dark hour in our shared history,” in reference to the war in Ukraine. He described the conflict as “a global issue” and said the US and partners will “lead a global response.”

US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the Quad Summit Tuesday, May 24, in Tokyo, Japan.
US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the Quad Summit Tuesday, May 24, in Tokyo, Japan. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool/AP)

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials reported Russian aerial strikes in east-central Ukraine and heavy fighting" in the eastern Donetsk region where Russian forces are trying to advance.

Here are more of the latest headlines from Russia's war in Ukraine:

  • Theft of Ukrainian grain appears to be ramping up: New satellite photos of the Crimean port of Sevastopol show two Russia-flagged bulk carrier ships docking and loading up with what is believed to be stolen Ukrainian grain. Ukrainian officials and industry sources have told CNN that Russian forces in occupied areas have emptied several silos and trucked the grain south. 
  • Veteran Russian diplomat resigns in protest of war: In a rare public protest by a Russian official, a diplomat posted to the UN in Geneva resigned and condemned Russia's foreign ministry as little more than a propaganda machine. "For twenty years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year," Boris Bondarev wrote on a social media post, referencing the starting date of the invasion.

  • Selling continues in central and eastern Ukrainian towns, officials say: Russian missiles inflicted serious damage to railway infrastructure in the Dnipropetrovsk region Monday evening, according to the head of the regional military administration. Several towns in Donetsk also were shelled or bombed, one top official said, which killed one civilian and injured four others.
  • Subway reopens after serving as bomlters: he subway system of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine will resume operations after months of being used as a shelter by residents trying to escape bombardments. Russian forces have recently vacated areas around Ukraine’s second-largest city, revealing additional evidence of atrocities.
  • Former US soldier recounts fierce defense of Kyiv: A former US soldier said he faced the most intense fighting of his life while serving as part of a group of elieign special forces veterans — primarily American and British — who have enlisted to help the Ukrainian cause. Once a top-level US counter-terrorism operative who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, he says his team uses decentralized, “small group tactics” to fight Russian forces and were among the first to witness Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians.

12:07 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Japan's Kishida says war puts extra emphasis on need for a "free and open Indo-Pacific"

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the Quad Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the Quad Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool/AP)

In his opening remarks at the Quad Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida highlighted the war in Ukraine as a major focus of the meeting.

"A grave incident which has fundamentally shaken the rule of law-based international order we value has happened since we met last September," Kishida said.

"(The) Russian invasion into Ukraine squarely challenges the principles which are enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We should never, ever allow a similar incident to happen in the Indo-Pacific. Because of the harsh reality unfolding, it is extremely significant for us to get together and show to the international society, the four countries' solidarity and our firm commitment toward a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific."

US President Joe Biden also condemned Russia's invasion in his opening remarks, pledging US support for Ukraine.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi —  who has so far resisted condemning the Russian invasion or imposing sanctions on Moscow —  did not mention the war in Ukraine during his opening comments. Instead, Modi emphasized the importance of "mutual cooperation."

"Despite the difficult circumstances of Covid-19, we have increased mutual coordination in several areas such as vaccine delivery, climate action, supply chain resilience, disaster response and economic cooperation," he said. "This will continue to strengthen the image of the Quad as a force for good."

11:59 p.m. ET, May 23, 2022

Top US general: Reintroduction of US forces in Ukraine would be a "presidential decision"

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Planning efforts to bring US troops back into Ukraine in any capacity — like to protect the recently reopened US embassy in Kyiv — are “underway at a relatively low level,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said during a press conference at the Pentagon on Monday after the conclusion of the second Ukraine Contact Group meeting.

Those plans “have not made it to the [Defense] Secretary or myself for that matter for refinement of courses of action and what’s needed,” Milley added. 

“At the end of the day any reintroduction of US forces into Ukraine would require presidential decision,” Milley said. 

“We’re a ways away from anything like that, we’re still developing courses of action and none of that’s been presented yet to the Secretary,” he added.

12:22 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Kharkiv subway will resume operations after months of serving as a shelter, mayor says

From CNN's Julia Presniakova 

People displaced by Russian shelling remain in an underground subway station where they have been sheltering for months on May 19 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. 
People displaced by Russian shelling remain in an underground subway station where they have been sheltering for months on May 19 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.  (John Moore/Getty Images)

Ihor Terekhov, the mayor of the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, said the city's subway system would resume operations Tuesday, after months of serving as a shelter for citizens looking to escape Russian bombardment. 

"Tomorrow, on May 24, we will open the subway," Terekhov said in remarks on television. "All lines will be launched. Subway traffic will be from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. The intervals won't be the same as in peacetime. The subway depot was damaged during the bombing and shelling, so the intervals will be longer."

During the height of the Russian bombardment of Kharkiv — Ukraine's second-largest city — many residents of Kharkiv took refuge in the city's metro system. Terekhov said many of those who remained underground had been relocated in dormitories, in areas further away from shelling. 

"If necessary, people can use the subway as a bomb shelter, especially subway underpasses," Terekhov said. 

The subway in Kharkiv became a shelter in the opening hours of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24. Residents occupied benches, steps, and station floors, as well as subway cars.

12:23 a.m. ET, May 24, 2022

Veteran Russian diplomat resigns in protest of Moscow's "aggressive war" in Ukraine 

From CNN's Nathan Hodge, Vasco Cotovio, Radina Gigova, Anna Chernova and Jennifer Hansler

The United Nation flag waves in the wind on the top of an UN building in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, June 14, 2021. A veteran Russian diplomat to the UN Office at Geneva says he handed in his resignation before sending out a scathing letter to foreign colleagues inveighing against the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning at the Russian diplomatic mission after a diplomatic official passed on his English-language statement to The Associated Press.
The United Nation flag waves in the wind on the top of an UN building in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, June 14, 2021. A veteran Russian diplomat to the UN Office at Geneva says he handed in his resignation before sending out a scathing letter to foreign colleagues inveighing against the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning at the Russian diplomatic mission after a diplomatic official passed on his English-language statement to The Associated Press. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

A 20-year veteran of Russia's diplomatic service announced his resignation Monday in protest of his country's war on Ukraine, multiple media outlets reported.  

In a rare public protest by a Russian official, Boris Bondarev, a diplomat posted to Russia's mission to the United Nations in Geneva, posted a statement on a LinkedIn account condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and criticizing the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for complicity in what he described as an an "aggressive war" — language that is proscribed in Russia under wartime censorship laws. 

"For twenty years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year," Bondarev wrote, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine. "The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country."

The respected Russian business newspaper Kommersant reached out to Bondarev, who confirmed the authenticity of the post. The New York Times confirmed the receipt of a resignation sent by email to diplomats in Geneva.

The Russian mission to the UN in Geneva declined to comment on the matter to CNN, and Bondarev did not respond to messages sent to the LinkedIn account. 

The post on LinkedIn lambasted Russia's leadership for corruption, saying, "Those who conceived this war want only one thing - to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity. To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this."

It also singled out the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for harsh criticism. 

"I regret to admit that over all these twenty years the level of lies and unprofessionalism in the work of the Foreign Ministry has been increasing all the time. However, in most recent years, this has become simply catastrophic. Instead of unbiased information, impartial analysis and sober forecasting, there are propaganda clichés in the spirit of Soviet newspapers of the 1930s," the post read.

"Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred. It serves interests of few, the very few people thus contributing to further isolation and degradation of my country. Russia no longer has allies, and there is no one to blame but its reckless and ill-conceived policy," the post continued.

The LinkedIn profile describes Bondarev as a veteran of Russian diplomatic service, with expertise in arms control and nonproliferation. The picture on the profile now has the hashtag #opentowork. 

The US State Department said Monday that Bondarev's resignation shows that “despite the Kremlin’s propaganda, there are Russians who profoundly disagree with what President Putin is doing in Ukraine and share our concern about the danger he is creating for the entire global community.”

A State Department spokesperson said it was encouraging that “many are willing to stand up to” Putin and noted that “it takes immense bravery to stand up to an oppressor, and it requires courage to speak truth to power, especially given the Russian government’s long and terrible track record of attempting to silence legitimate and peaceful protests and dissent.” 

“Plummeting morale is clearly not limited to Russia’s military forces fighting in Ukraine,” they said. 

“Boris Bondarev’s statement underscores that people around the world, including in Russia and even within the Russian government, are recognizing the brutality of the Kremlin’s assault on the Ukrainian people,” the spokesperson said. “They are doing so despite the Kremlin’s best efforts to manufacture and perpetuate disinformation.”