May 26, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Simone McCarthy, Andrew Raine, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal, Leinz Vales, Matt Meyer and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 7:54 p.m. ET, May 26, 2023
32 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
12:49 p.m. ET, May 26, 2023

More than 900 attacks on health care in Ukraine since Russian invasion began, WHO says

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

There have been more than 900 attacks on health care in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization

Of the 967 total attacks, 868 of them impacted medical facilities, WHO data shows. In total, strikes on health care in Ukraine have resulted in at least 97 deaths and 126 injuries since February 25, 2022. 

Russia's attack on a medical facility in Dnipro city on Friday is not yet included in the WHO data or death toll, given that the organization's process for verifying attacks takes some time. The most recent attack on health care in Ukraine that is recorded by WHO occurred on May 7, 2023, and impacted a mobile clinic.

"WHO condemns all acts of violence against healthcare. These attacks not only kill and maim but also deprive people of urgently needed care, endanger healthcare providers, and undermine health systems," WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said in a statement to CNN. 

"Attacks on health care workers, patients, transport, supplies, and health facilities are a flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law and must stop now," Harris added. "We call for an immediate cessation of all activities that endanger the lives of health care workers and patients or impede delivery of essential health services."

12:02 p.m. ET, May 26, 2023

Brazilian president rejects invite to Russia, but backs Ukraine peace talks

From CNN's Mia Alberti and Uliana Pavlova

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 9.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 9. Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images/FILE

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has rejected an invitation from his counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit Russia, he said Friday. Lula said Putin invited him over the phone to visit the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. 

"I replied I cannot go to Russia right now, but I repeated Brazil's availability to, along with India, Indonesia and China, to talk with both sides of the conflict in search for peace," Lula tweeted.

In turn, Putin said Russia is open "to dialogue on the political and diplomatic track, which is still blocked by Kiev and its Western sponsors," the Kremlin said in a statement Friday, adding the phone call was initiated by the Brazilian side.

The two heads of state also talked about the recent Group of Seven meeting, and about Russian-Brazilian cooperation.

The Kremlin did not mention an invitation to St. Petersburg.

On Thursday, Lula also tweeted he talked on the phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the "need for peace in Ukraine."

Some background: Lula has been trying to position himself as a possible mediating force in the conflict for months now.

The Brazilian president has proposed creating “a G20 for peace” — a group of countries strong enough to be respected at the negotiating table, but that are still considered by some as neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Indonesia, India, and China would play a crucial role in his vision, but Latin American countries are also invited to join the apparent initiative. He also revealed that during his talks with Xi in April, they discussed forming a group of like-minded leaders on Ukraine.

Lula has struggled to make his proposals widely persuasive. One controversial idea that he floated would see Ukraine cede Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, in exchange for peace — a concession Kyiv has ruled out and which the White House described as “simply misguided.”

CNN's Julia Jones contributed to this post.

11:33 a.m. ET, May 26, 2023

Netherlands is undecided on giving F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, prime minister says

From CNN’s Mick Krever in London

Despite leading a new coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 fighter jet, the Dutch prime minister was guarded Friday on committing to actually sending the aircraft to Ukraine.

“The decision to deliver F-16s, that has not yet been made,” Mark Rutte told journalists during a news conference. “Again, American permission first applies for this. If you’re going to train, it’s obvious that you would seriously think about it. But it has not yet been decided.”

President Joe Biden informed G7 leaders last week that the US will support a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth generation aircraft — a modern class of fighters that includes F-16s. The Biden administration has also signaled it would not block the planes' export, sources familiar with the discussions told CNN.

The Netherlands is leading the joint training mission, together with Belgium and the United Kingdom, Rutte said. There are additional European countries who have told the Dutch government they are interested in helping, he added.

Rutte said starting the training mission was important, but the discussion on actually sending planes should happen separately. 

Rutte did acknowledge the Netherlands has a fleet of F-16s that it will no longer need, as it transitions to the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet. But when pressed by a journalist, he refused to comment on any Dutch desire to send those planes to Ukraine.

“The Netherlands really does play, I think, a role that’s important at this moment in the whole question about Ukraine and weapons deliveries," Rutte said. "But we are not so big that we can afford to put out all kinds of releases through the media that might give other partners the feeling that, ‘Hey, we’re now being pressured through the media.’ That’s why we never say anything about it until it’s over.”

10:13 a.m. ET, May 26, 2023

France slams Russian attack on Dnipro hospital as "war crimes"

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman in Paris

France condemned Russia's strikes on Ukraine, including on a Dnipro hospital Friday morning, calling them “war crimes” that “cannot go unpunished,” according to a statement from the French Foreign Ministry. 

The missile and drone attacks on Kyiv and the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions of Ukraine “once again deliberately targeted civilian sites,” the ministry said, “in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

Where things stand: At least two people are dead and at least 30 people, including two children are among the injured, according to the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region military administration. Rescuers are searching for survivors in the rubble of a clinic. Officials said authorities still can't reach three people who may have been at the facility at the time of the attack. 

CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv contributed to this post.

10:14 a.m. ET, May 26, 2023

Number of injured in Dnipro attack rises to 30 people, authorities say

From CNN's Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

A fire fighter works at the site of a clinic which was destoryed by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, on Friday.
A fire fighter works at the site of a clinic which was destoryed by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, on Friday. (Mykola Synelnykov/Reuters)

The number of people injured in Friday's attack on the city of Dnipro has risen to 30 people, including two children, according to the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region military administration.

The search for three people who could have been at the facility at the time of the attack is still ongoing, regional military administration head Serhii Lysak said in a Telegram post on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration confirmed that two people died in the rocket strike.

Meanwhile, Dnipro Mayor Boris Filatov told journalists that a change of shifts for doctors was ongoing when the attack occurred at the Dnipropetrovsk City Hospital No. 14 — meaning fewer people were working at the facility at the time.

"Hopefully, there will be no more victims," Filatov told journalists at the hospital site. "It is a miracle that the rocket struck at the very moment of the doctors’ change of shifts."

A fire caused by the rocket has been extinguished, he added.

8:48 a.m. ET, May 26, 2023

Talks with Ukraine "impossible" as long as Zelensky is in power, former Russian president says

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Any conflict would end with negotiations, but as long as the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in power, no talks would be possible, Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president and the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, said Friday during a visit to Vietnam, according to state news agency TASS. 

"As long as the current regime and clown Zelensky are in power in Kiev, talks will be impossible," Medvedev said, adding that at some point an agreement would have to be negotiated.

"Everything always ends in negotiations. This is inevitable, but as long as these people are in power, the situation for Russia will not change in terms of negotiations," Medvedev said.

Medvedev went on to say that it is worth weighing all proposals for peace in Ukraine offered by various countries.

"As for peace plans being proposed, all of them should be considered," Medvedev said, commenting on the peace plans proposed by China and other countries.

Some context: China's peace plan and claim for neutrality have been undermined by Beijing's refusal to acknowledge the nature of the conflict, as well as its diplomatic and economic support for Moscow. Its officials have repeatedly said that the “legitimate” security concerns of all countries must be taken into account and accused NATO and the US of fueling the conflict.

8:20 a.m. ET, May 26, 2023

Russian Foreign Ministry summons US diplomats over Sullivan's comments on Crimea strikes 

From CNN's Radina Gigova

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the White House press briefing on April 24.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the White House press briefing on April 24. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

The Russian Foreign Ministry called on senior US diplomats on Friday to express "strong protest" over US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan's remarks about Ukrainian strikes on Crimea, after he said the US has not placed limitations on Kyiv to hit its territory.

The ministry called Sullivan's remarks in an interview with CNN on Sunday "unacceptable."

Sullivan also said that Washington will not enable Ukraine with Western systems to attack Russian territory, which includes Crimea.

A statement by the ministry said: "It was emphasized that the assurances of American officials that the United States does not encourage such attacks on Russia are hypocritical and false, given the direct material evidence of the use of weapons and equipment supplied for the needs of the AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] by the Pentagon to prepare and carry out terrorist acts by Ukrainian militants."

"The hostile actions of the United States, which has long been a party to the conflict, plunged Russian-American relations into a deep and dangerous crisis, fraught with unpredictable consequences," the ministry added. 

"It is time for Washington to learn that any form of aggression against Russia will continue to meet the strongest resistance."

Some context: Diplomatic relations between Western allies of Kyiv and the Kremlin further deteriorated after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

7:56 a.m. ET, May 26, 2023

2 attack drones hit buildings in Krasnodar, Russian governor says

From CNN's Mari Kostenko, Josh Pennington and Hira Humayun

Two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) damaged buildings in Krasnodar on Friday, after local media reported that an explosion was heard in the southern Russian city.

The governor of Krasnodar Veniamin Kondratiev said no major infrastructure was impacted, and said there were no casualties following the incident.

On Friday morning, videos geo-located by CNN showed what appeared to be a UAV in the sky followed by the sound of an explosion. Other social media images show smoke rising from the building, and another image shows the building damaged.

State news agency TASS reported that the city's emergency call center was alerted to an explosion on Morskaya Street early Friday.

"Emergency services were sent to the scene. No casualties have been reported. There was damage to the building's roof and windows, but no fire," according to TASS.
9:16 a.m. ET, May 26, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

At least two people were killed and over a dozen more injured in Dnipro, after a shower of Russian strikes hit the central Ukrainian city on Friday.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Medical facility attack: Two children aged 3 and 6 are among those injured in Moscow's attack on a medical clinic in Dnipro, according to regional head Serhii Lysak. He said that two adults had died in the shelling, and posted footage of the scene where fires tore through one of the buildings and smoke rolled out of windows.
  • Kremlin's ire over Western sanctions: Moscow spokesperson Dmitry Peskov demanded that the United Kingdom and other countries "immediately" unfreeze Russian foreign assets without any conditions, as Western allies of Ukraine load economic pressure onto Moscow over the conflict.
  • Fighter jets: Sweden's Defense Minister Pal Jonson told CNN the government will “try to accommodate” instructing Ukrainian pilots on Gripen fighter jets if Ukraine makes the request, as Kyiv ramps up pleas to Western allies about the procurement of fighter aircraft.
  • Evan Gershkovich: Lawyers for the Wall Street Journal reporter have appealed Tuesday's three-month extension of his pre-trial detention, according to a court in Moscow. He was arrested in Russia in March, where he faces up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges. The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied the spying accusations against Gershkovich.
  • US Treasury confirms CNN investigation: The United States Treasury sanctioned the head of the Wagner private military group in Mali, Ivan Maslov, as part of its pushback on Wagner expansionism in Africa supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine. It also confirmed the findings of a CNN investigation into Wagner’s support for the Sudan paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in the war devastating the country.