May 31, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sophie Tanno, Aditi Sangal and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0405 GMT (1205 HKT) June 1, 2023
40 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:10 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Kyiv targeted with ground-launched missiles overnight, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Russian forces used ground-based tactical missile systems to target Kyiv in early Thursday morning strikes, according to a Ukrainian military official.

Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration, said the missiles were not fired from planes. Preliminary information showed cruise and ballistic missiles were used, he added.

All identified air targets were shot down by Ukrainian forces, but falling debris resulted in casualties and damage, according to Popko, with three people — including two children — killed and at least 10 people injured.

"Strictly abide by the safety protocol when the air raid alarm is active!" Popko said. "And be especially careful — ballistic missiles fly very fast. The time between the air raid alert and a missile's approach is only seconds! Therefore, prepare what you need in advance to minimize the time for preparing and going to the shelter!"

Earlier, Kyiv's Mayor Vitali Klitschko said at least 14 people were injured in the strikes.

10:20 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Early morning airstrikes in Kyiv leave 3 dead, including 2 children, and 14 injured, mayor says

From Josh Pennington and Olga Voitovych

Emergency services responds after an early morning airstrike in Kyiv's Desnianskyi district. Portions of this image were obscured before they were provided to CNN.
Emergency services responds after an early morning airstrike in Kyiv's Desnianskyi district. Portions of this image were obscured before they were provided to CNN. Kyiv city military administration

At least three people, including two children, have died, and at least 14 people were injured in Kyiv’s Desnianskyi and Dniprovskyi districts as air strikes hit the city early Thursday morning local time, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.

Nine people were hospitalized and five were treated on site, he said.

Debris from the strikes hit a healthcare clinic in the Desnianskyi district and the windows of a multi-story residential building were also blown out, according to the Kyiv city military administration.

Debris also fell onto the roadway of Kyiv’s Dniprovskyi district and a car was burning on one of Desnianskyi’s streets, Klitschko said.

A damaged building in Kyiv's Dniprovskyi district.
A damaged building in Kyiv's Dniprovskyi district. Kyiv city military administration

9:56 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

At least 2 people injured in early morning strikes in Russia’s Belgorod region, governor says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

At least two people were injured early Thursday in the town of Shebekino in Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, a top official said.

Shelling by Ukrainian forces lasted an hour, according to Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov.

One of the injured men is in critical condition after having his left arm amputated. The other suffered a concussion and went to the hospital and is in stable condition, according to the governor.

“Emergency services are on site. Door-to-door rounds will be carried out in the area during daylight hours,” Gladkov said.

Some background: On Wednesday, there was a “massive” shelling attack that injured four people in Shebekino, Russian officials said.

Eight apartment buildings, four homes, a school and two administrative buildings were damaged during the shelling, they said.

8:50 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Wagner Group boss wants prosecutors to investigate Russia's military leadership

From CNN's Katharina Krebs 

The chief of the Wagner mercenary force said on Wednesday he is requesting that Russia’s Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office investigate top officials at the Ministry of Defense for “committing a crime during the preparation and during the conduct of the special military operation.”

“Today I sent letters to the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation with a request to investigate a number of top officials of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on the fact of committing a crime during the preparation and during the conduct of the special military operation,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Telegram. 

“These letters will not be published, due to the fact that this will be dealt with by the investigating authorities,” said Prigozhin, who has been a persistent critic of the Russian military's handling of the war in Ukraine, which Moscow refers to as a "special military operation." 

Earlier this month he blamed Russian defense chiefs for “tens of thousands” of Wagner casualties because they didn’t have enough ammunition.

There was no immediate reaction from the Ministry of Defense. CNN is reaching out to the ministry for a response. 



6:09 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Russian children evacuate as shelling increases in several areas along border. Here's what to know

From CNN staff

Several countries are reacting to Tuesday’s drone attacks in Moscow that injured two people and damaged several buildings, according to Russian state media.

Ukraine has denied involvement, even as one top official made it clear that Russia was getting a taste of its own medicine after months of bombarding Ukrainian cities. 

Here's what to know:

  • Countries react to attacks in Russia: The Biden administration has “been clear, privately and publicly, with the Ukrainians that we don't support attacks on Russian soil,” the White House said, adding that Ukrainian officials have assured the US they will not use equipment from the United States to strike inside Russia. German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said Ukraine has a "legitimate" right to defend itself against Russian attacks under international law. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also acknowledged that Ukraine has the right to “project force” beyond its own borders for self-defense. 
  • Russia's air defense and weapons: Russia has pledged to continue to improve its air defense system after the drone attack on Moscow. President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday the city's air defenses worked normally, but there was still “work to be done to make it better.” Russia is also ramping up the production of weapons and other military equipment, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Wednesday, according to state news agency TASS.
  • Other strikes on the border: Several areas in Russia near the border with Ukraine have come under more persistent mortar and artillery fire in recent days. Russian children were evacuated from areas of the Belgorod region, according to Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov
  • Fighting in Bakhmut: There has been a significant drop in hostilities on the ground around the city of Bakhmut as Russian forces rotate in and out of the area, but shelling continues incessantly, Ukrainian officials say. Wagner units are still being replaced with Russian regular forces, a spokesperson for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian military said.
  • Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant: The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said he believes Russia and Ukraine are “committing” to the organization’s five principles for averting a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia Power Plant. The principles include “no attacks of any kind from or against the plant," and a commitment against using it as a storage base for heavy weaponry, Rafael Grossi said.
  • US aid for Ukraine: The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will send an estimated $300 million worth of additional weaponry and equipment to Ukraine, focusing the latest military aid package on air defense systems to help Kyiv fend off Russian aerial attacks. Radar-guided, air-to-air AIM-7 missiles are included in the package for the first time along with additional missiles for Patriot air defense systems.
5:50 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Heavy artillery fire continues around Bakhmut as on-the-ground clashes ease, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

A Ukrainian soldier scouts the area with binoculars on the frontline in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on May 29.
A Ukrainian soldier scouts the area with binoculars on the frontline in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on May 29. Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

There has been a significant drop in hostilities on the ground around the city of Bakhmut as Russian forces rotate in and out of the area, but shelling continues incessantly, Ukrainian officials say.

Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian military, said Wednesday there had been only two or three clashes in the area over the last two days. But he said the Russians were covering their rotation of forces with artillery fire, and Ukrainian positions had been shelled 343 times Wednesday. In turn, Ukrainian fire killed 78 Russians and destroyed a variety of weapons and ammunition dumps, he said.

The departure of Wagner units and their replacement with Russian regular forces continued, Cherevatyi said.

"They are trying to deploy those among the best units that are left. The units which have already taken part in battles: units of the occupier's airborne troops, motorized rifle units. However, they arrive not in their best moral-psychological state," Cherevatyi said. "The rotation process is still ongoing. Whether this has strengthened or weakened them we will see in the coming days."

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar told Ukrainian television the south-western outskirts of Bakhmut remain under the control of the Ukrainians. 

"In fact, the enemy's offensive activity in the Bakhmut sector has been stopped. [But] the enemy has increased the number of artillery attacks ... The number of attacks today is equal to the times of the heaviest battles for Bakhmut," Maliar said.

Maliar said Ukrainian troops, for now, were not trying to advance on the Russians' flanks but said "the fight for this direction continues."

One soldier in the Bakhmut area, Yurii Syrotiuk of the 5th separate assault brigade, said that heavy thunderstorms had interrupted air strikes but that "enemy artillery is actively working," as were mortars and rockets.

Syrotiuk said Russian forces tried to counterattack in the past days, but not successfully. 

"The famous Donbas mud does not allow the movement of people nor equipment," he said, adding that this was impeding the Ukrainians' own efforts to push forward.

He also drew a distinction between the Wagner fighters and Russian regular units, which he said "do not fight like Wagnerites, as they are not being sent as cannon fodder under the threat of execution. So they make very languid attempts of attacks, which we repel and then the enemy artillery starts working."

5:02 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

More evacuations from Russian border to take place this week, governor says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

More evacuations of women and children are set to take place this week as the Russian border experiences shelling, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, some 300 children were already evacuated from Belgorod to the Voronezh area.

Gladkov added that 200 people, including mothers with small children and grandmothers, would be evacuated to Penza on Thursday.

On Saturday, 300 children will be sent from the Grayvoron district to Yaroslavl and 300 from Shebekino district will be sent to Kaluga, Gladkov said.

Gladkov also said he spoke with the governors of the Lipetsk and Tomsk oblasts who agreed to take 200 evacuees each, consisting of families with small children.


3:20 p.m. ET, May 31, 2023

Video shows Patriot missiles were used against recent Russian missile attacks in Kyiv

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio and Tim Lister

Video shot earlier this week in Kyiv shows the remnants of a US-made Patriot PAC-3 missile, indicating that the air defense system was in use Monday when Russian forces fired 11 cruise and ballistic missiles at the Ukrainian capital.

Weapons experts contacted by CNN confirmed that the wreckage — minus a warhead — appeared to be that of the missile type supplied to Ukraine for the recently donated Patriot batteries.

Earlier this month, Russia claimed to have destroyed a Patriot battery in the Kyiv area. US officials said the complex's launcher had suffered minor damage.

The arrival of the Patriot batteries has enabled Ukraine to intercept ballistic missiles and faster cruise missiles.