May 29, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sarah Dean, Christian Edwards, Schams Elwazer, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, May 30, 2023
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8:00 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

China responds to report that its envoy proposed a plan allowing Russia to retain control of parts of Ukraine

From CNN's Mengchen Zhang in Beijing and Wayne Chang in Taipei 

Chinese Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui is pictured during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on May 26.
Chinese Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui is pictured during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, on May 26. Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Reuters

China on Monday responded to Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporting that its special envoy of Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, proposed a ceasefire plan to European officials that would have Russia retain control over the parts of Ukraine it currently occupies. 

"The Foreign Minister of Ukraine has publicly stated that he has made his contacts with all parties, and none of which indicated that Special Envoy Li Hui made the representations reported by the Wall Street Journal," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said when asked to comment on the WSJ story. Mao was speaking at a regular press briefing.

Li elaborated on China's position and "forged more international consensus" while meeting with the parties relevant to the Ukraine crisis, Mao added.

On Friday — as Li ended his nearly two-week tour of Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany, the European Union's Brussels headquarters and Russia — the WSJ reported that he proposed an immediate ceasefire that would allow Russia to retain possession of the parts of Ukraine it now occupies.

6:45 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

All clear in Kyiv and all missiles intercepted after daytime attack, says official

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Sarah Dean in London

Tracks and white smoke are seen in the sky during a Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday, May 29.
Tracks and white smoke are seen in the sky during a Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday, May 29. Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

The air raid warning in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv has ended, after the city came under an unusual daytime attack just hours after more than 60 drones and cruise missiles launched at it were shot down overnight.

"Only 6 hours after the night attack, the aggressor country launched another missile attack on Kyiv. Preliminarily, the enemy used ballistic missiles,” Serhii Popko, head of Kyiv city military administration, said.

Popko said “preliminarily, all air targets were successfully hit by our air defense forces and means” and no hits have been reported on facilities in Kyiv.

“This was the 16th attack on the capital since the beginning of the month. Thus, the enemy changed its tactics – after prolonged, nighttime attacks only, it struck a peaceful city during the day, when most residents were at work and outside,” he added.

Debris from intercepted missiles fell in three parts of the city – Obolonskyi district, Desnianskyi and Dniprovskyi, he said.

He did not mention Podilskyi district where officials said earlier that debris fell on the roof of a building and one man had been hospitalized.

5:56 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

Ukraine shelling settlements in Russia’s Belgorod region, says governor

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Ukrainian forces are shelling several settlements in Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders north-eastern Ukraine, according to its governor.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post Monday that two industrial facilities had been attacked in the town of Shebekino. He said four people were injured after the shelling of building containing “paint and varnish liquids”.

CNN cannot independently verify his claims.

Some background: Reports of Ukraine's shelling of Belgorod comes after a group of anti-Putin Russian nationals, who are aligned with the Ukrainian army, claimed responsibility for an attack in Russian’s southwestern region of Belgorod last week.

The so-called Freedom for Russia legion launched a cross-border attack on Belgorod, which Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday designated a "terrorist act."

The Ukrainian government distanced itself from the Russian fighters, saying “in Ukraine these units are part of defense and security forces. In Russia they are acting as independent entities.”

1:11 p.m. ET, May 29, 2023

"Time will soon come" for offensive actions, Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces tells troops in east

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

The Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, has visited troops near the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman, telling them the time will “soon come” to take offensive actions against Russian forces.

“I met with the commanders of units and subdivisions performing tasks in the hottest spots of the frontline. We discussed possible scenarios in this area and the current situation at the front,” Syrskyi said, according to a Telegram post Monday.

“I noted that the time will soon come when we will launch active offensive actions and set specific tasks to prepare for them.”

Counteroffensive looms: His comments come after the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, ratcheted up speculation that a massive counteroffensive against Russia’s occupying forces could be imminent.

“The time has come to take back what is ours,” Zaluzhnyi wrote Saturday morning, underneath a video just over a minute in length showing Ukrainian forces apparently training at sunrise.

5:22 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

Attacks on Russian military bases in occupied Mariupol increasing, say Ukrainian officials

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Following reports of explosions in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol on Sunday, the exiled Mariupol City Council said Monday the number of attacks on Russian bases in and around the southern city is increasing.

“The number of attacks on Russian occupiers' bases in the Mariupol sector is increasing. Recently, explosions have been heard in Mariupol and in the district," the council said in a Telegram post.

“In particular, according to preliminary information, strikes were carried out in Yurivka, Nikolske and Urzuf. These are the locations of Russian military warehouses and bases. Recently, the occupiers considered these settlements to be rear areas, but the situation is changing,” the post added. 

CNN cannot independently verify these claims.

Some background: Mariupol, a strategic port city on the Sea of Azov, witnessed some of the most intense fighting since Russia launched its invasion more than a year ago. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has estimated that “tens of thousands” died during the siege of the city. Ukrainian forces finally evacuated the city in May last year, after resisting Russia’s advances for nearly three months.

Images of Mariupol’s destruction became symbols of the Kremlin’s use of indiscriminate firepower in Ukraine, drawing stark visual parallels with the levelling of cities like Syria’s Aleppo or the Chechen capital Grozny.

Ukraine’s military intelligence has accused Russian officials of overseeing war crimes against the civilian population in Mariupol in the course of the siege.

The reports of increased Ukrainian strikes on the occupied city come amid speculation that Kyiv is set to launch its counteroffensive in an attempt to reclaim territories captured by Russia.

5:58 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

CNN team: Explosions heard in Kyiv

From CNN staff in Kyiv

Rescuers work on a street where fragments of a Russian missile fell after being shot down in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday, May 29.
Rescuers work on a street where fragments of a Russian missile fell after being shot down in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday, May 29. Kyiv City Military Administration/Handout/Reuters

Explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday, CNN teams on the ground said.

CNN teams heard about six loud explosions in central Kyiv. It was not immediately clear if these were the sound of interceptions by air defense systems or impacts on the ground.

The explosions were heard within minutes of the air raid warning being activated. This is an unusually short time between the sirens going off and the drones or missiles arriving over the city.

One man was hospitalized in the capital's Podilskyi district, Kyiv's mayor Vitali Klitschko said, adding that missile fragments fell in the area.

The Kyiv city military administration said a fire had broken out on the roof of a two-story building in Podilskyi due to falling debris -- likely the result of air defense systems shooting down enemy targets.

“There are explosions in the city! In the central districts. Stay in shelters!” Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said earlier on Telegram.

Kyiv city’s military administration said rescue and firefighting services have been deployed to “extinguish missile fragments burning” on a road in the capital’s Obolonskyi district.

The daytime strikes follow a night of heavy bombardment on Kyiv, in which Ukrainian air defenses destroyed 67 out of 75 "air targets," including cruise missiles and Iranian-made Shahed drones.

3:38 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

Russia attacks military facility in Ukraine's western Khmelnytskyi region

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Russia has attacked warehouses, including a military facility, in Ukraine's western Khmelnytskyi region overnight, local officials said Monday. 

It is rare for Ukraine to publicize attacks on military facilities. 

"At the moment, work is underway to localize fires at fuel and lubricant warehouses and storage of military material assets," the Khmelnytskyi regional military administration said on Telegram.

"Five aerial vehicles have been put out of action. The runway is being repaired," the post said, adding that data on victims is being clarified.

4:58 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

Ukraine says air defenses shot down dozens of Russian cruise missiles and drones early Monday

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Valerii Zaluzhnyi attends a commemorative ceremony in Kyiv region, Ukraine on March 21.
Valerii Zaluzhnyi attends a commemorative ceremony in Kyiv region, Ukraine on March 21. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Ukrainian air defenses destroyed 67 out of 75 "air targets" launched overnight in the latest Russian attack on Kyiv, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Monday.

Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi said 37 cruise missiles, 29 Shahed drones and one reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle were shot down by Kyiv’s forces.

“Overnight, the Russian occupiers attacked Ukrainian military facilities and critical infrastructure objects with cruise missiles and attack drones,” Zaluzhnyi said on Telegram.

“The enemy fired up to 40 Kh-101/Kh-555 air-launched cruise missiles from nine Tu-95MS strategic aircraft from the Caspian Sea.

“From the northern and southern directions, the enemy attacked with Iranian Shahed-136/131 UAVs. A total of 35 attack drones.”

Kyiv's military administration previously estimated Ukrainian air defenses had shot down more than 40 "air targets."

Kyiv police Chief Andrii Nebytov said "almost all enemy targets were destroyed," but some buildings were damaged.

"As a result of the attack, residential buildings and infrastructure facilities in several districts of the region were damaged. No one was killed or injured,” Nebytov said.  

The new attack comes a day after a huge wave of Russian drones targeted Kyiv, marking the largest such assault on the capital since the conflict began, according to Ukrainian authorities.

1:07 a.m. ET, May 29, 2023

Zelensky, Putin congratulate Erdogan on Turkish election victory

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz, Yusuf Gezer and Tamara Qiblawi

Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the Presidential Complex to celebrate reelection victory in Ankara, Turkey on May 28.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the Presidential Complex to celebrate reelection victory in Ankara, Turkey on May 28. Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who has emerged as a key power broker since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last year — on Sunday won a presidential election in a runoff vote, stretching his rule into a third decade.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Erdogan for his victory.

“We count on the further strengthening of the strategic partnership for the benefit of our countries, as well as the strengthening of cooperation for the security and stability of Europe,” Zelensky said on Twitter.

Erdogan has adopted a crucial balancing act between Kyiv and Moscow, widely known as “pro-Ukrainian neutrality.”

He helped broker a key agreement known as the Black Sea Grain Corridor Initiative that unlocked millions of tons of wheat caught up in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, averting a global hunger crisis. The agreement was extended for another two months last Wednesday, one day before it was set to expire.

In remarks published on the Kremlin’s website, Putin said the election provided “clear evidence of the Turkish people’s support” for Erdogan’s efforts “to strengthen state sovereignty and pursue an independent foreign policy.”

On Putin and NATO: Though Turkey is a member of the NATO alliance that Russia views as an existential threat, Erdogan and Putin have what the Turkish President called a "special" relationship. Erdogan said in an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson last week that the two nations "need each other in every field possible."

In the interview, Erdogan also said he would continue to block Sweden’s access to NATO, despite Western criticism that he was obstructing a unified front against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Erdogan accused Sweden of harboring Kurdish terror groups and has preconditioned Stockholm’s accession on the extradition of wanted individuals.

Sweden has refused Turkey’s repeated requests to extradite individuals Ankara describes as terrorists, arguing that the issue can only be decided by Swedish courts.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson congratulated Erdogan for his victory Sunday. “Our common security is a future priority,” he tweeted.

Read more about Erdogan's victory here.