May 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Brad Lendon, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Hafsa Khalil and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 12:12 a.m. ET, May 27, 2022
33 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:59 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

Russian and Italian leaders discussed Ukraine and food crisis, according to government statements 

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova, Anastasia Graham-Yooll and Nicola Ruotolo

A drone image shows a military vehicle in a grain field previously mined with explosives in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine on May 24.
A drone image shows a military vehicle in a grain field previously mined with explosives in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine on May 24. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi held a telephone call on Thursday and discussed the situation in Ukraine and the issue of global food security, according to readouts of the call from both the governments. 

The Italian readout released following the call said the discussion between the two leaders focused on the situation in Ukraine and “efforts to find a shared solution to the ongoing food crisis and its serious repercussions on the poorest countries in the world.” 

The Kremlin in its readout said that Putin emphasized that Moscow is ready to make a “significant contribution” to avoid the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, if the West lifts “politically motivated restrictions” on Russia. 

“Noting the groundlessness of accusations with the supply of agricultural products to world markets, Vladimir Putin drew attention to the fact that the difficulties that have arisen are related, among other things, to disruptions in the operation of production and logistics chains, as well as the financial policy of Western countries during the coronavirus pandemic. The situation was aggravated due to anti-Russian restrictions imposed by the United States and the European Union,” the Kremlin statement said. 

Putin also informed Draghi about the “ongoing work to establish a peaceful life in the liberated cities of Donbas,” the Kremlin said, adding the Russian leader also gave “fundamental assessments of the negotiation process frozen by Kyiv."

“When discussing energy security issues, the intention of the Russian side to continue to ensure uninterrupted supplies of natural gas to Italy at prices fixed in contracts was confirmed,” it said. 

8:26 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

"No room for impunity" in prosecuting alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine, Finland's Prime Minister says 

From CNN’s Sarah Dean and Anastasia Graham-Yooll

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, meets with Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 26.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, meets with Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 26. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin visited Kyiv — as well as the cities of Irpin and Bucha — Thursday and meet with local residents and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

She announced plans for additional support for Ukraine, including an increase in arms deliveries.

After hearing testimonies about alleged atrocities committed by Russian soldiers, Marin emphasized that Finland supports Ukraine and the International Criminal Court bringing the perpetrators to justice, according to a Finnish government statement, and that there will be “no room for impunity."

During the visit, Marin strongly condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine, calling them "a blatant violation of the UN Charter and international law," the statement said.

“It is important for the European Union to be united, bold and determined in the face of Russia’s invasion,” Marin stressed, adding that “it is important to create concrete steps for Ukraine to become an EU Member State."

1:23 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

US energy secretary: Russia is "weaponizing energy" amid war in Ukraine

From CNN's Matt Egan

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm during a CNN interview at a General Electric wind turbine facility in New Orleans on May 24.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm during a CNN interview at a General Electric wind turbine facility in New Orleans on May 24. (CNN)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions from the West have sent oil prices skyrocketing, lifting gasoline and diesel prices in the United States to unprecedented levels. Natural gas prices also have climbed around the world.

After the West imposed tough penalties on Russia, Putin warned that “unfriendly” nationswould need to pay for crucial Russian shipments of natural gas in rubles instead of euros. Following payment disputes, Russia has turned off the flow gas to Finland, Bulgaria and Poland.

“I wouldn’t trust them,” US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN in response to a question about whether Russia will ever again be considered a reliable energy supplier. “They have to prove they are a reliable partner and they’re certainly not doing that.”

“They are weaponizing energy, which is another reason why as a nation, we should move to energy sources that cannot be weaponized,” Granholm said while speaking from a General Electric wind turbine testing facility in New Orleans.

Of course, Russia could argue that the West is also weaponizing energy. The United States and other countries have banned imports of Russian oil, natural gas and coal, while Europe is debating similar steps.

Keep reading here.

12:41 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

World oil prices hit two-month high above $117 as Russia's war in Ukraine continues 

From CNN’s Matt Egan

A driver unloads raw crude oil from his tanker on May 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A driver unloads raw crude oil from his tanker on May 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (George Frey/Getty Images)

Brent crude oil climbed on Thursday to the highest level since late March, signaling more pain for drivers filling up at the gas pump.

Brent, the world benchmark, jumped 2.8% to $117.25 a barrel in recent trading. Brent hit an intraday high of $117.39 a barrel, the highest since March 28. 

Investors are watching nervously as European officials attempt to reach an agreement on phasing out Russian oil, a step that would further scramble energy flows. 

“Oil prices keep grinding higher and it’s tough to see how that doesn’t continue if an oil embargo is put into place,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst for the Americas at data and analytics firm Kpler.

Oil prices remain significantly below the recent peak set in March during the initial shock after Russia invaded Ukraine. Brent topped out at $139.13 a barrel in early March, while US oil hit $130.50 a barrel. 

“We have an orderly march higher, rather than some panic-induced price spike,” Smith said. 

Gas prices are at record highs, though they have begun to level out. The US national average for regular gasoline edged higher on Thursday to a fresh record of $4.60 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s 30% more expensive than the day before Russia invaded Ukraine.

12:37 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

Russian forces have lost about 1,000 tanks in Ukraine so far, according to senior US defense official

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Destroyed Russian main battle tanks and armored vehicles lay beside a road on May 25 in Irpin, Ukraine. 
Destroyed Russian main battle tanks and armored vehicles lay beside a road on May 25 in Irpin, Ukraine.  (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Russian forces have lost “nearly about 1,000 tanks” and “well over 350 artillery pieces,” as well as “almost three dozen fighter bomber fixed-wing aircraft and more than 50 helicopters” so far in the ongoing war in Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters Thursday.

Still, with all of that loss, the US assesses that Russians “still have the … majority of their capability left to them,” the official added. “They have invested an awful lot of their hardware and their personnel in this fight, and the Ukrainians have suffered losses, the Russians have suffered losses."

“Russians do have a superiority here in terms of number of assets they can apply to this fight in terms of people, and equipment and weapons, and we just have to bear that in mind,” the official added.

12:46 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

US official: Russian forces have made "some incremental gains" in their push towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

A man is seen inside his damaged apartment after a missile strike at a nearby abandoned building in the city of Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on May 26.
A man is seen inside his damaged apartment after a missile strike at a nearby abandoned building in the city of Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on May 26. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

There are now 110 operational Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) inside of Ukraine, which is an increase from 97 BTGs the US assessed were inside of Ukraine as of May 9, a senior US defense official told reporters Thursday. That is an increase of about 13 BTGs in about two and a half weeks. 

“The largest contingent remains in the south. But the western grouping, the central grouping and the eastern grouping each have roughly the same number of BTGs inside Ukraine,” the official said.

Russian forces have made “some incremental gains” in their push towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the official added, “not a lot but some incremental gains.”

Around Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, the US assesses that Ukrainians have “continued to push Russian forces further away" in a range of “a few kilometers to more than 10 kilometers within the Russian border,” the official said, “so no major change there.”

Meanwhile, 85 of the M-777 howitzers that the US has provided to Ukraine over the course of the last three military assistance packages are “forward,” meaning they are being used on the frontlines of the war, the official told reporters Thursday. 

Out of the 209,000 155 mm projectiles that were promised to Ukraine from the US, 190,000 of them have been transferred to Ukraine, the official added. 

Nine of the 11 total Mi-17 helicopters the US promised to Ukraine have been transferred to Ukraine. The last two helicopters will arrive either “later this month or very early in June,” the official said.

US and NATO allies continue to train Ukrainian soldiers on US and NATO weapons systems outside of Ukraine, the official added. 419 Ukrainians soldiers have completed M-777 howitzer training, about 30 Ukrainians have completed the basic howitzer maintenance course, and another 17 have completed the more advanced 14-day maintainer course for the Howitzer systems, the official continued.

About 20 Ukrainian soldiers are completing the second iteration of the training on the Phoenix Ghost Unmanned Aerial Systems, or drones, that the US provided to Ukraine, the official added. 

The US is “also helping facilitate training” for Ukrainians on coastal defense missiles now that Denmark has agreed to contribute Harpoon launchers and vehicles to Ukraine, the official said.

“Some training that needs to be done on how to use the Harpoon was not designed for coastal defense, it was designed for anti-ship warfare, ship-to-ship warfare, so this is a relatively new application of the missile, and therefore we know they’re going to need a little bit of training on that,” the official said.

12:34 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

Zelensky slams peace proposals that "appease" Russia 

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

(Latvian Parliament)
(Latvian Parliament)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed peace proposals that would "appease" Russia in a speech Thursday to the parliament of Latvia. 

"There are people — and many of them among the powerful of this world — who believe that not all nations matter, who believe that a nation can simply be forgotten to try to keep peace," Zelensky said. "Even the temporary peace, even the illusory one. Even peace at the cost of tens of thousands killed, hundreds of thousands deported, or millions deprived of their homeland. They are OK with that. Peace at the cost of the lives of others. But this should not be normal."

Zelensky's remarks follow remarks from former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who appeared to suggest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that peace negotiations should be aimed at "status quo ante" boundaries that preceded the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 — in essence, conceding Crimea and parts of the Donbas to Russia. It also comes amid reports that Italy has concocted its own embryonic peace plan.

"Now we hear again that Russia should be given what it wants," Zelensky said. "That supposedly it is necessary to accept that some nations may be deprived of part of their foreign policy rights, because certain — as they say — 'historical force' wants it. There are quite serious talks about drawing some dividing lines along the body of a sovereign state in order to allegedly 'appease' the aggressor. And allegedly concessions, concessions and concessions again are needed — of course, at the expense of the state, which was attacked, so that the aggressor allegedly mercifully stops." 

In his remarks to the Latvian parliament, the Ukrainian president urged additional sanctions on Russia, particularly on its powerful energy sector exports. 

"It is necessary not only to finally agree on the sixth sanctions package against the Russian Federation, including the embargo on oil, oil blends and petroleum products," he said. "But also prepare the seventh sanctions package, with even more powerful restrictions on Russia for terror against Ukraine. Just like Latvia, the whole of Europe must restrict Russia's energy weapons. Fully."

12:29 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

China's support of Putin "should raise alarm bells," US secretary of state says

From CNN's Michael Conte and Kylie Atwood

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken slammed China for defending Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, saying that defense “should raise alarm bells for all of us who call the Indo-Pacific region home.”

“Even while Russia was clearly mobilizing to invade Ukraine, President Xi and President Putin declared that the friendship between their countries was, and I quote, ‘without limits,’” Blinken said in a speech on the Biden administration’s policy towards China at George Washington University.

He emphasized that the US is not seeking a conflict or a new Cold War with China.

“Our task is to prove once again, that democracy can meet urgent challenges, create opportunity, advance human dignity, that the future belongs to those who believe in freedom and that all countries will be free to chart their own paths without coercion,” said Blinken. “We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War. To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both."

"Even as President Putin’s war continues, we will remain focused on the most serious long-term challenge to the international order – and that’s posed by the People’s Republic of China,” he added. 

11:20 a.m. ET, May 26, 2022

Grain shortage caused by war now having "significant impact" in some African countries, US general nominee says

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ellie Kaufman

Grain shortages around the world caused by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine are “being felt on the African continent,” the nominee to be the next top US general overseeing the US military presence in Europe, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, told lawmakers Thursday.

Cavoli, who currently serves as commander of US Army Europe-Africa, said he saw the impacts of the grain shortage on a recent trip to Kenya.

“There was a significant impact there already. We know that in other countries such as Tunisia, the prices have skyrocketed for basic foodstuffs. So there is food insecurity in Africa that is being provoked by the shortage of grain,” Cavoli said.

While the shortage is being experienced in Africa, this will “largely be a European concern, because of the close connection between African security issues and European security issues,” he added.

Some countries, like Germany and Romania, are already starting to try to alleviate the problem, Cavoli said. 

Romania has “made the port at Constanța available,” Cavoli said, but that port will only allow “about 90,000 tons” of grain a day through, while there’s about 22 million tons of grain backed up, he added.

The German national railroad agency, Deutsche Bahn, also recently announced a new plan called the Berlin train lift to “dedicate trains to pulling wheat right out of Ukraine into western Europe,” Cavoli said.

“Poland has established a new border crossing regime with Germany to facilitate that. So I think some efforts are taking place, much more remains to be done, senator,” he told lawmakers. 

He also addressed the NATO bids of Finland and Sweden, saying they will bring “quite a lot of capability and capacity” to the alliance if they join.

Cavoli is nominated to succeed the current US European Command Commander Gen. Tod Wolters.