Today's live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has ended. Read through the posts below to catch up.
May 13, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news
By Sophie Tanno and Tori B. Powell, CNN
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Rome Saturday, where he met with his Italian counterpart, Italy's prime minister and Pope Francis.
If you're just now catching up, here's what you should know:
Zelensky's Italy visit: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to Italian President Sergio Mattarella about “the war and the importance of Ukraine’s victory” on Saturday, according to Zelensky’s chief of staff. Then, Zelensky arrived at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, where the two spoke about the humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war, the Vatican said. During the meeting, the Pope assured "his constant prayer" for peace and stressed the need for "human gestures" toward victims of the war. And after what Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni described as a "long and fruitful" meeting with Zelensky, she pledged unwavering support to Ukraine, saying Italy was ready to support its partnership with NATO.
When asked afterward by Italian media about the highly anticipated counteroffensive against Russian troops, Zelensky said:
"We believe in victory and believe that the first important steps will be taken soon."
Russian attacks. At least 21 people were injured and two others were hospitalized in the western Khmelnytskyi region of Ukraine after Russian attacks early Saturday morning, according to the deputy head of the regional military administration. Ukraine's Air Force said Saturday that 17 out of 21 Russian drones had been intercepted overnight by its air defense system. And in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka, two people were killed – including a 15-year-old girl – and 10 others were wounded as a result of Russian shelling, the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor's Office said in a Telegram post.
Luhansk explosions. An explosion was heard Saturday morning in the suburbs of the eastern city of Luhansk, which is occupied by Russian forces and a significant hub for Moscow's invasion, one day after the city was struck by two missiles. The explosion happened around 10 a.m. local time in the village of Yubileiny, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Here's the latest map of control:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the "first important steps" of a highly anticipated military counteroffensive against Russian forces "will be taken soon."
"We are preparing very seriously, and there will definitely be very serious steps," Zelensky said in a conversation with top editors of Italian media in Rome on Saturday.
"I know that we are all motivated, and not only those who know this plan, but our people ... I cannot tell you (when). But you will definitely see it, and Russia will definitely feel it," he said. "... We believe in victory and believe that the first important steps will be taken soon."
Some more context: Ukrainian forces have begun "shaping" operations in advance of the expected counteroffensive, a senior US military official and senior Western official told CNN.
Shaping involves striking targets such as weapons depots, command centers and armor and artillery systems to prepare the battlefield for advancing forces. It's a standard tactic made prior to major combined operations.
Zelensky said on Thursday that his country still needs "a bit more time" before it launches a counteroffensive, in order to allow some more of the promised Western military aid to arrive.
CNN's Jim Sciutto and Vasco Cotovio contributed reporting to this post.
At least 21 people were injured and two others were hospitalized in the western Khmelnytskyi region of Ukraine after Russian attacks early Saturday morning, according to the deputy head of the regional military administration.
"Today, the enemy once again attacked Khmelnytskyi with a strike drone, hitting one of the critical infrastructure facilities of the region, located outside the settlements," Serhii Tiurin said on Telegram.
"As of now, we have 21 injured people. Two of them were hospitalized, the others received medical assistance and were transferred to outpatient treatment."
Tiurin said there was some damage sustained in the attack.
"In particular, educational, medical and cultural institutions, administrative buildings, industrial facilities, high-rise and individual residential buildings were damaged," he said.
Ukraine's Air Force said Saturday that 17 out of 21 Russian drones had been intercepted overnight by its air defense system.
Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv contributed reporting to this post.
Two people have been killed – including a 15-year-old girl – and 10 others wounded as a result of Russian shelling on the eastern city of Kostiantynivka on Saturday, the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor's Office said in a Telegram post.
"The occupation forces of the Russian Federation once again fired on Kostiantynivka," it said.
"As a result of the occupiers' attack on the settlement, two residents were killed, including a 15-year-old girl. Ten people also sustained injuries of varying severity, including two teenagers aged 15 and 16. They were taken to a hospital for qualified medical care," according to the post.
Multi-story and private houses, a gas station, a pharmacy and shops were "damaged or destroyed," the regional authorities added, noting that "pre-trial investigations are ongoing."
An explosion was heard Saturday morning in the suburbs of the eastern city of Luhansk, which is occupied by Russian forces and is a significant hub for Moscow's invasion, one day after the city was struck by two missiles.
The explosion happened around 10 a.m. local time in the village of Yubileiny, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
"Services are already working on the site. The circumstances of the incident and information on the victims are being clarified," said Leonid Pasechnik, the Russian-backed acting head of the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic.
Eyewitnesses said that windows were broken in houses and a tall plume of smoke was seen rising from the scene.
Later on Saturday, a Russian-backed official in the region said two people were hospitalized.
"This morning missiles hit the village of Yuvileiny in the Artemivsky district of the city," Darya Lantratova, an official for the Luhansk People’s Republic, said on Telegram.
Some context: On Friday, Luhansk was struck by two missiles, injuring six children, Russian-backed authorities said.
The city has rarely come under attack by Ukrainian forces since the Russian invasion.
Some Russian bloggers, without providing evidence, suggested Ukraine used cruise missiles recently provided by the UK. But Kyiv also has Ukrainian-made Grom missiles, which have the range to hit Luhansk.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Pope Francis for giving "personal attention" to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, after meeting with the pontiff in Rome for the first time on Saturday.
"I emphasized there are tens of thousands of deported children, we must make every effort to bring them home," Zelensky said in a statement posted across his social media pages.
"In addition, I asked him to condemn Russian crimes in Ukraine. There can be no equality between victim and aggressor," he said.
Remember: The International Criminal Court in March issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.
Zelensky also spoke to the Pope about his 10-point peace plan, saying it is "the only effective algorithm for achieving a just peace."
After the meeting, Zelensky told top editors of the Italian media in Rome that the Vatican sent a signal of support for the plan.
"This is important, and we are also supported by the Italian government, and many different countries," Zelensky said.
He added that Ukraine doesn't need a mediator in any potential talks with Russia.
"With all due respect to his Holiness … the issue is that we don’t need a mediator between Ukraine and an aggressor-country that has occupied our territories," he said. "We need to come up with an action plan to develop a fair peace in Ukraine and then we will invite the Vatican as one of the leaders to this format."
CNN's Mariya Knight contributed reporting.
The Saturday meeting between Pope Francis and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ended, according to a statement from the Vatican Press office.
During the 40-minute meeting, Zelensky and Pope Francis spoke about the humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war, the Vatican said.
"The Pope has assured his constant prayer, witnessed by his many public appeals and continuous invocation to the Lord for peace, since February of last year," the Vatican press office said.
"Both agreed on the need to continue humanitarian efforts to support the population," it added.
Pope Francis also stressed the need for "human gestures" toward victims of the war, according to the statement.
It was the first face-to-face meeting between Zelensky and the Pope since Russia's full-scale invasion began. The pontiff has been outspoken in his support for an end to the conflict.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni pledged unwavering support to Ukraine, saying Italy was ready to support its partnership with NATO, after what Meloni described as a "long and fruitful" meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky at Rome’s Palazzo Chigi on Saturday.
"We are ready to support a further intensification of Ukraine's partnership with NATO, we will discuss it in Vilnius at the July summit; it will probably be the central theme," Meloni said.
“For as long as needed, and beyond, our nation will continue to provide bilateral and multilateral assistance, and there will be our staunch adherence to sanctions enforcement arrangements and our support for peace, provided it is a just peace," she added.
Meloni said she believes Ukraine will win the war and will be "reborn stronger" and "more prosperous than before."
The prime minister went on to blame Russia in some of the strongest language her government has delivered on the conflict. She said peace will only come when "Russia ceases hostilities," calling on Moscow to withdraw its troops.
"We are in favor of a diplomatic solution to the conflict," Meloni said. "We support President Zelensky's 10-point peace formula. And we recognize the legitimate European aspirations of Ukraine, an outpost of security for the entire European continent."
She added that she was happy Zelensky visited Pope Francis, and concluded her speech by emphasizing Italy's continued support to Ukraine.
"We're betting on Ukraine's victory," she said.
Zelensky thanked the Ukrainian population that had gathered in the streets waving Ukraine's flag and invited Italian political leaders and representatives to visit his country.