May 31, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Jack Guy, Hannah Ryan, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, June 1, 2022
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11:19 p.m. ET, May 30, 2022

US President Biden says he won't send rockets to Ukraine that could reach Russia

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden said he doesn't plan to ship any rockets to Ukraine that could reach Russian territory.

"I won't send anything that can fire into Russia," Biden said at the White House on Monday when asked whether he was planning to send long-range rockets to Ukraine.

CNN reported last week 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.

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.

The administration has wavered on whether to send the systems amid concerns raised within the National Security Council that Ukraine could use the new weapons to carry out offensive attacks inside Russia, according to officials.

On Friday, after CNN first reported the news, Russians warned that the United States will “cross a red line” if it supplies the systems to Ukraine.

More background: The rocket systems the Biden administration is preparing to send to Ukraine are capable of firing different kinds of ammunition that reach a range of distances.

While some of the longer-range weapons can fire 300 miles (or about 500 kilometers) or more, the systems can also launch rockets with a range of just a few dozen miles — not considered long-range weapons but still able to reach a greater distance than the howitzers the US has already sent to Ukraine.

Biden's comments Monday leave open the possibility that the US could send the advanced, long-range rocket systems without the longest-range rockets.

CNN's Oren Liebermann and Alex Marquardt contributed reporting to this post.

11:19 p.m. ET, May 30, 2022

Ukrainian military reports advances in the south and intense fighting in eastern Donbas region

From CNN's Tim Lister

The Ukrainian military has reported advances during its counteroffensive in the south and continuing efforts to hold off Russian advances in the eastern Donbas region.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported Monday additional Russian efforts to degrade Ukrainian defenses in Luhansk and Donetsk, saying that artillery, airstrikes and missiles had been used in several places — including Lysychansk and Soledar.

Russian pressure on Severodonetsk, a city where two-thirds of properties have been reported as destroyed, continues — with the General Staff saying that hostilities persist in and around the city. 

As the Russians attack Ukrainian lines in Donbas from the south, east and north, there are conflicting claims about their progress. 

The General Staff said that fighting continues around the village of Komyshuvakha, to the southwest of Severodonetsk. Social media video geolocated by CNN appears to show a Chechen unit in the village, with drone footage suggesting Ukrainian soldiers retreating from the area. A Chechen commander says:  "This locality is now under our control, and we will begin storming all fronts. We have seized, completely, you could say, Komyshuvakha."

Ukraine has claimed some success in its offensive in the south, which began during the weekend. The General Staff said, "the enemy suffered losses and withdrew from the village of Mykolaivka, Kherson region, which led to panic among servicemen of other units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation." 

If Russian forces have withdrawn from Mykolaivka, it would represent a gain of several kilometers for Ukrainian units. 

The General Staff reported continued further cross-border shelling of settlements in the northern regions of Chernihiv and Sumy, as well as shelling of territory north of the city of Kharkiv which has recently been retaken by Ukrainian forces.

11:19 p.m. ET, May 30, 2022

Ukrainian official: Military victory against Russia "unlikely" if US holds back long-range artillery

From CNN's Katya Krebs and Matthew Chance in Kyiv, Ukraine

A military victory against Russia is “unlikely” if the United States holds back supplies of long-range artillery, a senior Ukrainian official tells CNN. 

Alexey Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential advisor, told CNN the weapons are “essential for fate of Ukraine and its independence.” 

US officials said last week they are considering a Ukrainian request for deliveries of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, MLRS, which can strike targets as far as 300 kilometers, or about 186 miles, depending on the type of munition. 

Arestovych told CNN that even a small number of the weapons systems — as few as 20 — would be a “game-changer” in the conflict with Russia, as he said it would enable Ukrainian troops to defend themselves against long-range Russian attacks. 

Without MLRS, we would probably be able to stabilize the frontlines,” Arestovych said.

“But we would be looking at losing Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and parts of the Zaporizhzhia region,” he told CNN. 

But arming Ukraine with long-range rockets has raised concerns in the West that the MLRSs could be used to attack targets inside Russia, possibly escalating the conflict. 

Acknowledging those concerns, Arestovych told CNN that Ukraine would only use the weapons to defend their territory, not to attack Russia.