May 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Joshua Berlinger, Hafsa Khalil and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 26, 2022
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4:10 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022

European Council chief "confident" Russia oil ban issues will be resolved by next meeting on Monday

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London 

European Council chief Charles Michel, left, and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speak at a joint press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 25.
European Council chief Charles Michel, left, and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speak at a joint press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 25. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/AP)

European Council chief Charles Michel is "confident" that any issues over a proposed ban on Russian oil imports will be resolved by the next council meeting on May 30. 

Addressing a news conference alongside the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm on Wednesday, Michel said that although he was "still confident" that the bloc will be able to resolve any issues, it will require "a lot of dialogue." 

"We are working very hard in order to be able to stay united," Michel stressed. 

The Swedish prime minister publicly declared the country's desire "to go further" with sanctions against Russia. 

The proposed ban has been largely opposed by Hungary, which has said that such a measure would be "against Hungarian national energy security." 

12:39 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022

Putin signs decree streamlining Russian citizenship for Ukrainians in regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia  

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow on May 16.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow on May 16. (Alexander Nemenov/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on Wednesday making it easier for Ukrainians in the parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions occupied by Russian troops to obtain Russian citizenship. 

According to the decree published on a government portal, amendments will be made to an existing decree used to simplify the process for the residents of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic or the Luhansk People's Republic. 

Russia handed out hundreds of thousands of Russian passports to residents of the DPR and LPR ahead of the massive Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, helping create one of the pretexts for a wider war.

4:18 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022

"Fierce battles" occur around Severodonetsk as Russian troops advance, Ukraine says

From CNN's Nathan Hodge and Maria Kostenko

Smoke rises during shelling in the city of Severodonetsk on May 21.
Smoke rises during shelling in the city of Severodonetsk on May 21. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian presidential administration on Wednesday reported "fierce battles" around the industrial city of Severodonetsk in the eastern Luhansk region, with a top military official saying shelling of the town had increased "exponentially." 

A statement on Wednesday from the presidential administration reported "fierce battles for Severodonetsk," with constant mortar shelling, adding, "In the morning, with the support of artillery, the Russian occupiers are advancing on Severodonetsk."

According to the statement, six civilians have died and eight were wounded in the region amid the stepped-up fighting. 

Serhiy Haidai, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said the shelling of Severodonetsk had "increased exponentially" in recent hours. 

"Russian troops are very close; they can already fire mortars," he said. "The fighting was on the outskirts of the city yesterday. [Russian] forces are being transferred here from different regions — from Kharkiv, Mariupol, even from Donetsk in order to push through in the Luhansk region at any cost."

He added that "the next week is important; if they do not succeed by Saturday or Sunday, they will run out of steam, and the situation will at least stabilize for us."

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian military acknowledged Wednesday that it had launched cruise missiles at targets in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia. A statement by Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defense ministry spokesperson, said the strikes on Zaporizhzhia had targeted production workshops of the Motor Sich plant, an aerospace facility. 

Ukrainian officials previously reported strikes in Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk without giving extensive details on the facilities targeted. Officials in Zaporizhzhia subsequently posted video showing damage to a shopping mall. 

8:23 a.m. ET, May 25, 2022

It's 2:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's everything you need to know about the war in Ukraine today

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, May 23.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, May 23. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

The World Economic Forum opens. Fighting rages in Ukraine's east. And a state of emergency is declared in Hungary.

Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine:

  • Dire warnings in Davos: Business and political leaders are descending on the Swiss ski resort town for the WEF, with the war in Ukraine one of the main points of conversation. Two of the early speakers addressed the conflict with stark predictions. Slovakia's Prime Minister warned his country would be next if Ukraine fell, while Hungarian-born billionaire and philanthropist George Soros said the invasion may have marked the start of "a third world war."
  • 'His bubble of this alternative reality': Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking via videoconference at a breakfast event in Davos, said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin needs to "leave his bubble of this alternative reality into the real world and talk to us, understand that a lot of people are being killed, including civilians." Zelensky said he was willing to talk to Putin, but directly, "with no intermediaries, no brokers.”
  • Hungary emergency: Hungary will enter a "state of emergency" due to the war in Ukraine, the country's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. The ruling will allow Orban to continue to rule by decree. Hungary was already in a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic but that was set to expire at the end of May
  • Food exports blocked: Russia has established an "effective blockade" in the northern third of the Black Sea, according to a US official who provided a declassified map of the region to CNN on the condition of anonymity. Ukraine provides about 10% of the world’s wheat exports, the official noted — the vast majority of which exit the country from Black Sea ports. The head of the UN's World Food Programme has urged Putin to reopen ports in Ukraine to exports to prevent children around the world from starving.
  • Mariupol death toll: At least 22,000 residents are believed to have died during Russia's three-month assault on Mariupol, according to an official from the Ukrainian port city. Petro Andriushchenko said the figure is based on the many contacts he and other town hall officials continue to have with officials trapped inside, and believes the true number could be much higher. The figures cannot be independently verified.
8:07 a.m. ET, May 25, 2022

Ukrainian Eurovision winners to auction off trophy to raise money for army

From CNN's Petro Zadorozhnyy  

Members of the band Kalush Orchestra pose onstage with their trophy after winning Eurovision on May 14.
Members of the band Kalush Orchestra pose onstage with their trophy after winning Eurovision on May 14. (Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, which recently won the Eurovision Song Contest, is auctioning off its trophy to raise funds for the Ukrainian army, the group announced on Instagram Wednesday. 

Oleh Psiuk, the group's frontman, also offered to sell his signature pink bucket hat.

The group recently announced it would tour Europe to raise funds for Ukraine and its armed forces. 

Kalush Orchestra won the competition on May 15 with the song "Stefania," written about the frontman's mother. The band beat competition from main rivals the United Kingdom and Spain.

The event marked the first major cultural event in which Ukrainians have taken part since Russia invaded in February, and many in the audience waved Ukraine's blue and yellow national flag during the evening.

Ahead of the final round, Kalush Orchestra were runaway favorites to win the campy, much-loved singing contest this year, in part because of all the obstacles it overcame due to the war.

The band was unveiled as the country's entry on February 22, two days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

8:16 a.m. ET, May 25, 2022

Hungary's Viktor Orban to rule by decree during state of emergency

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks to parliament on May 24 in Budapest.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks to parliament on May 24 in Budapest. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)

Hungary’s reelected Prime Minister Viktor Orban will continue to rule by decree after a state of emergency was declared at midnight due to the fact that one of the country's neighbors -- Ukraine -- is in a state of war. 

“We have seen that the war and sanctions from Brussels have brought about a great economic upheaval and drastic price rises. The world is on the brink of an economic crisis. Hungary has to stay out of this war and has to protect the financial security of families," Orban said.

The Hungarian government argues that “the government needs to be able to make decisions and act swiftly. The state of emergency, similarly to that introduced during the pandemic, will make it possible for the government to react quickly."

Orban said the decree was reinstated to use “all methods at its disposal” to protect Hungary and Hungarians.

The current state of emergency, which allows Orban to disable some laws and push through emergency measures by decree, was set to expire at the end of May. It had been introduced in the spring of 2020 at the start of the coronavirus-pandemic.

Orban and his Fidesz party were reelected in April despite his historically pro-Kremlin positions and close relationship with Putin. The war there upended the contest, which had been focused mostly on domestic issues before the invasion began on February 24.

Orban's relationship with Kyiv has deteriorated over the years. He has impeded the country's attempts to form closer relations with NATO, and has clashed with successive governments in Kyiv.

6:23 a.m. ET, May 25, 2022

"Slovakia is next" if Russia defeats Ukraine, Prime Minister warns

 From Julia Horowitz and Lindsay Isaac in Davos, Switzerland

Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, attends a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday.
Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, attends a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

The Slovakian Prime Minister issued a stark warning about the future of his country should Russia defeat Ukraine during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos Wednesday. 

“If Ukraine fails, Slovakia is next," Prime Minister Eduard Heger told other EU and business leaders. 
"They (Ukraine) have to win,” he said.

Heger went on to criticize members of the European Union for relying too heavily on Russian energy. He urged leaders to “stop compromising” their principles when dealing with Russia.

“We basically traded our values for cheap gas and oil for too long," he said. "Compromising with Putin caused a war in Ukraine. An aggressive war, people are dying.” 
Ukrainians are “shedding their own blood for our values, so we don’t have to,” Heger said.

Entry into the Union: Heger asked the bloc to work with Ukraine and the western Balkans to come up with "standardized rules so they can accede to the EU."

Ukraine has, in recent years, deepened its economic and political ties with the EU, and Kyiv has expressed a desire to join. Nations in the western Balkans have also sought accession for several years.

Joining the bloc usually takes several years, as nations must satisfy strict criteria for membership before engaging in negotiations.

However, some current EU leaders have rebuffed the idea that its membership could be fast-tracked due to the invasion.

“There’s no such thing as a fast-tracking of accession, such a thing doesn’t exist," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in March.

10:43 a.m. ET, May 25, 2022

Lithuania vows to ship more military aid to Ukraine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas speaks during news conference in Lithuania on February 22.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas speaks during news conference in Lithuania on February 22. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

Lithuania will transfer a new shipment of aid to Ukraine "to further support its defence against Russia," the Lithuanian ministry of defense said Wednesday.

On Twitter, Arvydas Anusauskas said the Baltic nation will send 20 M113 armored vehicles, 10 military trucks and 10 SUVs for demining operations.

"Our support is crucial for Ukraine's victory and defence of its sovereignty," he said, adding that "Lithuania provided the first assistance before the war started and now we are constantly thinking about additional effective support that is critical to Ukraine going forward."

Some context:

Lithuania has been a strong supporter of Ukraine since the start of the war in February, becoming the first European Union country to stop Russian gas imports. Earlier this month, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the Russian regime had to be removed to stop "warmongering."

Read more here:

Correction: This article has been updated with a correct photo of Arvydas Anusauskas, who was incorrectly identified by Associated Press in a previously published photo.

5:01 p.m. ET, May 25, 2022

Kramatorsk mayor urges residents not to return following Russian strikes

From CNN's Maria Kostenko

A man walks past a damaged building after a strike in Kramatorsk on May 25.
A man walks past a damaged building after a strike in Kramatorsk on May 25. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Oleksandr Honcharenko, the mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, urged residents Wednesday not to return following a Russian airstrike overnight. 

"An anxious night in Kramatorsk," he wrote in a statement on Facebook. "An air strike on residential areas and the private sector. No casualties. Friends, I understand how hard it is for you outside your hometown. But the enemy is getting closer. The danger is not somewhere out there, but here - nearby! It's too early to go back, no matter how hard it is for you."

Kramatorsk saw a deadly missile strike on a railway station in early April, killing at least 50 civilians, including five children, who were evacuating the fighting in the country's east.

Read more here: