Here is the situation as it stands on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised his country’s military for reportedly shooting down six Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in a single night. The Kinzhal, which means “dagger” in Russian, is one of six “next-generation” weapons Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted could not be shot down by any of the world’s air defence systems when he unveiled them in 2018.
- Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu dismissed Ukraine’s claim that it shot down the missiles, saying Moscow had not launched that many, Russia’s state RIA news agency reported.
- The Russian defence ministry said its missiles destroyed a US-built Patriot surface-to-air missile defence system in a strike in Ukraine, the Zvezda military news outlet reported. Two unnamed United States officials speaking to the Reuters news agency said a Patriot missile defence system being used by Ukrainian forces likely suffered some damage from a Russian attack but was not destroyed.
- The International Committee of the Red Cross warned that unexploded bombs, shells and mines not only threaten human life in Ukraine but also risk rendering swathes of fertile farmland unusable for years to come.
- Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian forces have taken back about 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq miles) around Bakhmut, pushing Russian forces from the flanks of the city but she conceded that Moscow’s forces were pushing deeper inside the embattled town.
- Russia launched 80 artillery attacks on Ukraine’s Kherson region, including 14 on the city of Kherson. Six people, including a child, were wounded when a residential area was hit, said Regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin.
- Russian forces were said to be concentrating their main efforts in the direction of the front-line eastern cities of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka.
- The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pledged to build an “international coalition” to equip Ukraine with fighter jets and provide support “with everything from training to procuring F16 jets”, a spokesman for Sunak’s Downing Street office said in a statement. French President Emmanuel Macron earlier offered to train Ukrainian fighter pilots but ruled out sending warplanes to Kyiv.
- Hungary declined to approve the disbursement of the next tranche of military support for Ukraine provided under the EU’s European Peace Facility (EPF), saying that Budapest “does not agree with the fact that the European Union, along with other existing tools, uses the European Peace Facility solely with regard to Ukraine as this does not allow sufficient funds to be channelled to promote the EU’s interests in other areas”. The EU has provided a total of about 3.6 billion euros ($3.9bn) in military support for Ukraine so far under the EPF.
Diplomacy and politics
- The US Central Intelligence Agency is encouraging Russian nationals to make contact with its agents via a secure internet channel, saying the agency wants to hear from military officers, intelligence specialists, diplomats, scientists and people with information about Russia’s economy and its leadership.
- EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the bloc will act against the importation of petroleum products from India that use Russian oil. In rare criticism of India’s role in helping Russia evade Western sanctions, Borell said the EU did not mind increased oil trade between Russia and India but urged a crackdown on India reselling Russian oil into Europe as refined fuel, including diesel.
- Leaders from the 46-nation Council of Europe agreed to create a “register of damages” to record Russia’s destruction of Ukraine for future compensation. The register, to be lodged in The Hague, aims to record the tangible costs Russia has exacted on Ukraine, officials at a Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik, Iceland said.
- Leaders of the Group of Seven nations plan to tighten sanctions on Russia at their summit in Japan this week, officials with direct knowledge of the discussions said.
- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Putin and Zelenskyy had agreed to receive a mission from African leaders on a potential peace plan for the conflict.
- Ukraine and Russia will face off before the United Nations top court on June 6, when judges will hear Ukraine’s claim that Moscow violated a UN treaty by supporting pro-Russian separatists identified by a Dutch court as being responsible for the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which killed hundreds.
- The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has called for the Black Sea grain deal to be renewed as it risks further food market instability. The grain from Ukraine and Russia represents as much as 90 percent of imports for countries in East Africa, which are experiencing a severe food security crisis, the IRC said.