May 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Brad Lendon, Jeevan Ravindran, Laura Smith-Spark, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 28, 2022
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7:52 a.m. ET, May 27, 2022

UK PM says Russia making slow gains in Donbas, calls for Ukraine to be given advanced long-range weapons

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a press conference at Downing Street, London, England, on May 25.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a press conference at Downing Street, London, England, on May 25. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was making "slow" but "palpable" progress in the Donbas and urged more military support for Ukraine, such as the provision of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

“I think it’s very, very important that we do not get lulled because of the incredible heroism of the Ukrainians in pushing the Russians back from the gates of Kyiv," Johnson said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“I’m afraid that Putin at great cost to himself and to (the) Russian military is continuing to chew through ground in Donbas, he’s continuing to make gradual, slow but I’m afraid palpable progress," he added.

Johnson stressed that therefore "it is absolutely vital" to continue to support the Ukrainians militarily.

"What they need now is the type of rocketry, a Multiple Launch Rocket System, MLRS, that will enable them to defend themselves against this very brutal Russian artillery, and that's where the world needs to go now," he said.

Johnson also warned of the dangers of negotiating with Putin, and compared him to a crocodile.

"How can you deal with a crocodile when it's in the middle of eating your left leg?" Johnson told Bloomberg TV. "[Putin] will try to freeze the conflict. He will try and call for a ceasefire while he remains in possession of substantial parts of Ukraine."

6:07 a.m. ET, May 27, 2022

It's 1 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian forces are intensifying attacks in eastern Ukraine as they try to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses — which Ukrainian officials admit are outnumbered and outgunned.

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

  • Report accuses Russia of genocide: Russia's actions in Ukraine provide enough evidence to conclude that Moscow is inciting genocide and committing atrocities intended to destroy the Ukrainian people, according to an independent legal report, signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts.
  • Heavy fighting in Luhansk: Ukrainian officials reported continued heavy fighting in the Luhansk region, with a local military chief describing "fierce battles" for the city of Severodonetsk. Officials also described heavy shelling around Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk, saying Russian forces had set the police station in Lysychansk on fire and damaged about 50 buildings in the area.
  • Russian bombardment: Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday acknowledged that Russian troops have made further advances in the eastern Donetsk region — capturing one district within 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of the important town of Bakhmut. Ukrainian officials say that in recent days, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a remorseless bombardment of towns and cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions still under Ukrainian control. Several officials describe the situation as "very difficult" and admit Ukrainian units may have to fall back in some places.
  • Deadly attacks: Nine people were killed and 19 others injured in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" of residential areas, according to a Ukrainian military official. Ukrainian forces were "holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city," the official said.
  • Removed to Russia: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence — an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed.
  • US weapons supplies: The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say. The White House is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance, which could be announced as soon as next week.
  • War crimes trial: Two captured Russian soldiers pleaded guilty in a court in central Ukraine on Thursday to "violating laws and customs of war conducted with preliminary group conspiracy." Oleksandr Bobykin and Oleksandr Ivanov are accused of firing rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region toward Kharkiv on Feb. 24.
  • Oil price spikes: Brent crude oil climbed on Thursday to more than $117 a barrel — the highest level since late March — signaling more pain for drivers. 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.
5:01 a.m. ET, May 27, 2022

Continued heavy fighting in Ukraine's Luhansk region, officials say

From CNN's Nathan Hodge

Pro-Russian troops drive an armored vehicle past destroyed residential buildings in the town of Popasna in Luhansk region, Ukraine, on May 26.
Pro-Russian troops drive an armored vehicle past destroyed residential buildings in the town of Popasna in Luhansk region, Ukraine, on May 26. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian officials on Friday reported continued heavy fighting in the Luhansk region, with a local military chief describing "fierce battles" for the city of Severodonetsk.

In televised remarks, Oleksandr Striuk, head of the Severodonetsk city military administration, said: "There have been fierce battles for the city. We have a hot spot, the Mir hotel. On May 26 [Thursday], an enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group entered the Mir Hotel. The [Ukrainian] Armed Forces resisted."

A pro-Russian Telegram channel said Russian forces had entered the hotel, which is in the north of Severodonetsk, and that street fighting was underway.

Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said a Ukrainian operation to retake the hotel was underway on Friday, but added: "We are not yet in control of the hotel. But we are working to drive out the ruscists [Russian fascists]."

Hayday also described heavy shelling around Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk as Russian forces pushed from the direction of the towns of Purdivka and Shchedryshchevo, saying it had set the police station in Lysychansk on fire and damaged about 50 buildings in the area.

A man walks near the remains of a missile in the city of Lysychansk, in eastern Ukraine, on May 26.
A man walks near the remains of a missile in the city of Lysychansk, in eastern Ukraine, on May 26. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

"Residents of Severodonetsk have already forgotten what it is like when the city is silent for at least half an hour," Hayday said.

"Russians are harassing residential neighborhoods continuously. On May 26, four residents of Severodonetsk were killed by enemy shells in the old districts of the city. Two of them died at the same time near one high-rise building. There is damage to the housing stock; 11 apartment buildings and one private house damaged."

2:26 a.m. ET, May 27, 2022

Leading experts accuse Russia of inciting genocide in Ukraine and intending to "destroy" Ukrainian people

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Russia's actions in Ukraine provide enough evidence to conclude that Moscow is inciting genocide and committing atrocities intended to destroy the Ukrainian people, according to the first independent report into allegations of genocide in that country.

The legal report, signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts, accuses the Russian state of violating several articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention. It warns there is a serious and imminent risk of genocide in Ukraine, backing the accusations with a long list of evidence including examples of mass killings of civilians, forced deportations and dehumanizing anti-Ukrainian rhetoric used by top Russian officials.

The report was put together by New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a US-based think tank, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights which is based in Canada, and is set to release on Friday, with the authors sending copies to parliaments, governments and international organizations around the world. An advance copy of the report has been shared exclusively with CNN.

"We assembled top legal experts from around the globe who then examined all the evidence and they came to the conclusion that the Russian Federation bears responsibility for breaches of the Genocide Convention in Ukraine," Azeem Ibrahim of the New Lines Institute told CNN. Ibrahim visited Ukraine in March to gather evidence for the report.
"This is a very thorough and detailed examination of extensive evidence," he said. "What we have seen so far is that this war is genocidal in its nature, in terms of the language being used and the manner in which it is being executed. That's very, very clear."

Read more:

12:00 a.m. ET, May 27, 2022

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

Russian forces are intensifying attacks in eastern Ukraine as they try to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses — which Ukrainian officials admit are outnumbered and outgunned.

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

  • Russian bombardment: Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday acknowledged that Russian troops have made further advances in the eastern Donetsk region — capturing one district within 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of the important town of Bakhmut. Ukrainian officials say that in recent days, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a remorseless bombardment of towns and cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions still under Ukrainian control. Several officials describe the situation as "very difficult" and admit Ukrainian units may have to fall back in some places.
  • Deadly attacks: Nine people were killed and 19 others injured in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" of residential areas, according to a Ukrainian military official. Ukrainian forces were "holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city," the official said.
  • Removed to Russia: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence — an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed.
  • Genocide claims: Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine reflect "an obvious policy of genocide," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday. "The current offensive of the occupiers in Donbas can make the region uninhabited," he said.
  • US weapons supplies: The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say. The White House is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance, which could be announced as soon as next week.
  • War crimes trial: Two captured Russian soldiers pleaded guilty in a court in central Ukraine on Thursday to "violating laws and customs of war conducted with preliminary group conspiracy." Oleksandr Bobykin and Oleksandr Ivanov are accused of firing rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region toward Kharkiv on Feb. 24.
  • Oil price spikes: Brent crude oil climbed on Thursday to more than $117 a barrel — the highest level since late March — signaling more pain for drivers. 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.
  • Germany's gas pledge: Germany is working "flat out" to end its reliance on Russian gas imports, the country's Chancellor said Thursday, adding there was "no doubt" that both Berlin and the EU would end their dependence on energy imports from Moscow.
10:11 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

Zelensky says Russian action in Donbas is "an obvious policy of genocide"

From CNN's Hira Humayun 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Thursday May 26.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Thursday May 26. (Office of President of Ukraine)

Russia's intensified offensive in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region reflects "an obvious policy of genocide," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday.

"The current offensive of the occupiers in Donbas can make the region uninhabited," Zelensky said. "They want to burn Popasna, Bakhmut, Lyman, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk to ashes. Like Volnovakha, like Mariupol."

In cities closer to the Russian border like Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian forces "gather everyone they can to fill the place of those killed and wounded in the occupation contingent," Zelensky said.

"All this, including the deportation of our people and the mass killings of civilians, is an obvious policy of genocide pursued by Russia."

Zelensky said putting pressure on Russia "is literally a matter of saving lives" and that every delay, dispute or proposal to "appease" Russia leads to "new killed Ukrainians" and new threats to everyone on the continent.

8:43 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

9 killed, including baby, in "dense shelling" of Kharkiv residential areas

From CNN's Tim Lister

A damaged residential building is seen in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 26.
A damaged residential building is seen in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 26. (Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Nine people, including a 5-month-old baby, were killed in Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" on residential areas near the city center, according to Oleh Synyehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration.

Among those killed was “a family who was simply walking down the street — a man was holding his five-month-old baby in his hands, whom he died holding. (The) mother of this baby is severely wounded and is now in the hospital,” Synyehubov said.

He also described the artillery used, and said the targeting of residential areas in Ukraine's second-largest city could only be for the purpose of “terrorizing” local residents.

"The enemy shelled with MLRS SMERCH and URAGAN and with artillery, modification of which is being established now by our military experts. According to the available data. the shelling was conducted from the North of the oblast, where our troops are holding their positions and slowly pushing the enemy away to the borders. This was a solely residential area, so the aim of this shelling could only be terrorizing the local residents," he said. 

The official added it was the Shevchenkivskyi and Kyivskyi districts of Kharkiv that were “densely shelled.” He said in addition to those killed, 19 were injured, among them a 9-year-old child.

“As of now our armed forces holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city,” he said.
8:37 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

US is preparing to approve long-range rocket systems as it becomes Ukraine's top request

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Jim Sciutto, Alex Marquardt and Tim Lister

The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say.

The administration is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week.

Senior Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have pleaded in recent weeks for the US and its allies to provide the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. The US-made weapon systems can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of kilometers — much farther than any of the systems Ukraine already has — which the Ukrainians argue could be a gamechanger in their war against Russia.

Another system Ukraine has asked for is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS, a lighter wheeled system capable of firing many of the same types of ammunition as MLRS.

Russia has in recent weeks pummeled Ukraine in the east, where Ukraine is outmanned and outgunned, Ukrainian officials have said.

The Biden administration waivered for weeks, however, on whether to send the systems, amid concerns raised within the National Security Council that Ukraine could use the systems to carry out offensive attacks inside Russia, officials said.

Read more:

8:12 p.m. ET, May 26, 2022

Russia is depopulating parts of eastern Ukraine, forcibly removing thousands across the border

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis, Kylie Atwood and Natasha Bertrand

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in Eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence —  an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed.

After being detained in camps operated by Russian intelligence officials, many Ukrainians are then forcibly relocated to economically depressed areas in Russia, in some cases thousands of miles from their homes, and often left with no means of returning, sources said.

Although some Ukrainians have voluntarily entered filtration camps to try to escape the fighting by entering Russia, many have been picked up against their will at check points and in bomb shelters. After spending an average of around three weeks at the camps —  where sources and eyewitnesses say they are held in inhuman conditions, interrogated and sometimes tortured — some are sent across the border into Russia and given state documentation.

Read more: