Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
The mayor of Kyiv reported explosions in the capital as air raid alerts were issued across Ukraine early Friday morning (local time).
"There were explosions in the city. The air defense is working. Another wave of UAVs is heading for Kyiv," Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.
A live map on the website of the Ministry of Digital Transformation shows all areas of Ukraine currently under an air raid alert.
Ukrainian Armed Forces have claimed that Russia has lost about 208,000 troops since the beginning of the invasion, according to Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Cherevatyi noted this was more than the about 170,000 Russian forces he says were involved in the initial invasion in 2022.
CNN has not been able to independently confirm these numbers.
In eastern Ukraine: Russia shelled Ukraine's position in Bakhmut at least 476 times on Thursday, according to Cherevatyi.
"We are doing everything to exhaust their logistics — we are hitting the accumulation of equipment and personnel, headquarters," Cherevatyi said.
He added that Ukrainian forces destroyed several tanks and other military equipment in Bilohorivka and Stelmakhivka in Luhansk region.
The top US general stressed the importance of modern battle tanks for Ukraine, especially with its counteroffensive looming against occupying Russian forces, but cautioned that F-16 fighter jets would be more of a long-term effort.
Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley said tanks provide the firepower and strength to play a major part in the highly anticipated counteroffensive and will play a critical role for Kyiv.
“Tanks are very important, both for the defense and the offense,” said Milley, speaking to reporters during a trip to France for the commemoration of D-Day. “Upgraded modern tanks, the training that goes with it, the ability to use them will be fundamental to Ukrainian success.”
Approximately 400 Ukrainian troops recently began training on US-made M1A1 Abrams tanks, a process that is expected to last approximately 12 weeks. About half of the troops are learning to operate the tanks, while the other half will learn how to maintain the complex Western system.
The US committed to providing Ukraine with a total of 31 Abrams tanks. Other countries have already sent in UK-made Challenger 2 tanks and German-made Leopard 2 tanks.
Milley said the tanks will operate in a coordinated fashion with artillery, infantry and more when the counteroffensive begins, utilizing the training on military maneuvers the US has provided for Ukraine in Germany to attack entrenched Russian positions.
“If you look back to World War 2, some of the biggest armored battles that were ever fought in history were fought basically in parts of Ukraine,” he said.
Milley also addressed the nascent effort to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets or other modern fighters, saying it is more of a long-term plan to equip Ukraine with a modern air force better capable of standing up to Russia’s vastly superior air power.
“Everyone recognizes that Ukraine needs a modernized air force and everyone knows that. It’s going to take a considerable length of time, effort, money, to build that air force,” Milley said.
Russia’s has hundreds of fourth and fifth generation fighters and bombers, dwarfing the smaller, older Ukrainian fleet or military aircraft. Since the beginning of the war, instead of trying to compete with Russian air power by matching them plane-for-plane, the US and other countries provided Ukraine with ground-based aerial defense systems, Milley said.
“The fastest, cheapest, most effective way to do that was from the ground,” he said. The flow of aerial defense systems has been effective at forcing Russia’s air force to largely remain out of Ukrainian air space and prevent Russia from establishing aerial supremacy over Ukraine.
With an aerial defense system established across critical parts of Ukraine, the effort has now shifted to bolstering Ukraine’s air force with modern Western fighter jets.
But the plan will still take time, with open questions about who will provide the jets, training, and sustainment needed.
Russia’s air defense system shot down several Ukrainian drones over the western Russian region of Kursk, according to Gov. Roman Starovoyt early Friday morning.
“We ask Kursk residents to remain calm, the city is under the reliable protection of our military,” Starovoyt said.
At least three civilians have been killed in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), according to the Mission of the DPR Joint Centre of Control and Coordination.
From midnight local time on Thursday to midnight Friday, the mission reported 84 instances of shelling by the Ukrainian armed forces. Three civilians have died, including two men in the Petrovsky district of the city of Donetsk and one in the Tsentralno-Miskyi district of the city of Horlivka.
The mission said four civilians, including children born in 2008 and 2013, were injured.
Falling debris from downed Russian missiles caused damage to buildings and killed several civilians in Kyiv overnight, officials said.
Groups of Russian volunteers who oppose the current Kremlin leadership have again claimed to have entered Russian territory in the Belgorod region near the border. The Kremlin said they were repelled and did not violate the state border.
Here's what to know:
- Attack in Kyiv: Three people, including a 9-year-old girl, were killed and at least 12 others were injured in a missile strike on Kyiv overnight, according to Ukraine's national police. Their deaths have sparked anger after reports emerged that they had tried to enter a bomb shelter that was closed. Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said police will now patrol bomb shelters during nighttime air raid alarms to ensure they are open.
- Belgorod border incursions: Dozens of strikes have occurred on Russia's border region of Belgorod over the last day, according to the region's governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov. The Kremlin says the attacks will not change the course of its so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine, which is the term President Vladimir Putin uses to refer to Russia's war in Ukraine. Officials in Ukraine said it “does not have any responsibility” over the Russian dissident groups that have claimed to be fighting inside Russian territory and that they are "acting on their own."
- Pledged ally support: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has heard “powerful support” from allies at the European Political Community Summit in Moldova on countries supplying fighter jets to Kyiv to help repel Russian forces. He called on countries to send more Patriot missile defense systems until the fighter jets are delivered. The Dutch and Polish prime ministers also said their countries intend to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.
- Thinking beyond the war: NATO needs to make sure there are “credible arrangements” in place to guarantee Ukraine’s security after the war ends so that "history doesn't repeat itself," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reaffirmed his country's commitment to making sure Ukraine has what it needs for a successful counteroffensive, adding that Ukraine's "rightful place" is in NATO.
- Latest in Bakhmut: Wagner fighters are due to leave the Bakhmut area by June 5, being replaced by regular Russian forces. Prigozhin said Wagner units will relocate to rear camps in Donetsk and Luhansk regions for now, away from the line of contact.
In response to Moscow’s “legally invalid” suspension of its participation in the New START Treaty, the United States is withholding key information that had been required under the nuclear arms control agreement and will not facilitate Russian inspections in the United States, the US State Department said Thursday.
The new “countermeasures” come months after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would suspend its participation in the only remaining agreement between the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
In the fact sheet released Thursday, the State Department said Russia’s “purported suspension of the New START Treaty is legally invalid.”
“As a result, Russia remains bound by its New START Treaty obligations, and is violating the treaty by failing to fulfill many of those obligations,” it said.
The State Department described their new “countermeasures” as “proportionate, reversible,” and said they “meet all other legal requirements.”
“The United States notified Russia of the countermeasures in advance, and conveyed the United States’ desire and readiness to reverse the countermeasures and fully implement the treaty if Russia returns to compliance,” the State Department said.
“Beginning June 1, 2023, the United States is withholding from Russia notifications required under the treaty, including updates on the status or location of treaty-accountable items such as missiles and launchers,” it added.
“The United States is refraining from facilitating New START Treaty inspection activities on U.S. territory, specifically by revoking existing visas issued to Russian New START Treaty inspectors and aircrew members, denying pending applications for such visas, and by revoking the standing diplomatic clearance numbers issued for Russian New START Treaty inspection airplanes,” the fact sheet continued.
It noted that the US “had been prepared to facilitate Russian New START Treaty inspection activities on U.S. territory since June 2022, and repeatedly conveyed that readiness to Russia; however, Russia chose not to exercise its right to conduct inspection activities and has also denied the United States its right under the treaty to conduct inspection activities since August 2022, when it refused to accept a U.S. inspection.”
“Russia has not notified the United States of any intent to send a Russian inspection team to the United States since February 25, 2020,” the fact sheet said.
The US “will not be providing telemetric information on launches” of US intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS) and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMS).
The latest countermeasure builds on one from March, when the US did not exchange data on offensive weapons under the New START Treaty.
NATO will continue to support Ukraine to ensure that history doesn't repeat itself once the war is over, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
“We all agree that in the middle of the war, we cannot make Ukraine a full member of NATO, but at the same time we need to prepare for what happens when the war ends because then we need to ensure that history doesn't repeat itself," he said, adding that could look like Russian forces regrouping and attacking again.
The secretary-general said that Russian President Vladimir Putin made a mistake by underestimating Ukraine and NATO – and the alliance continues to be committed to supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”
“It will be a big tragedy for Ukrainians if President Putin wins but it will also be dangerous for us because our message to him and all the alternative leaders including in Beijing, is that when they use force, they get what they want and that will make also us, NATO allies, United States, Europe, more vulnerable,” he said.